Bennachie: Alford (1645) and Harlaw (1411)

The header picture is by Ailish Sinclair and shows the ridge line of Bennachie in Aberdeenshire. Her blog post on Bennachie includes not only the above picture but many more lovely photos and descriptions of the area. Her blog has become one of my favorites as it allows me to vicariously visit many of the area of Scotland that I portray in this blog.

I haven’t spent much time working on the blog recently since I am completing (and maintaining) the rehab on my hamstring injury. This involves a good deal of (uphill) walking. Fortunately the weather has cooperated wonderfully. I am also back to teaching a bit and researching nearly three hundred years of Scottish late medieval history. Still, several wargaming projects are underway.

There is a very lively pipe tune that my band played called “The Back of Bennachie”. We played it on the march and occasionally I would play it to accompany our dancers.

Lyrics where added to the tune (likely in the late 18th century) and the chorus runs:

Gin I were whaur the gaudie rins
Whaur the gaudie rins, whaur the gaudie rins
Gin I were whaur the gaudie rins
At the back o’ Bennachie

So what is its connection with both Alford and Harlaw? The peaks of Bennachie sit midway between them and as best as I can tell its peaks can be seen from each battlefield.

Bennachie – Ailish Sinclair

In Ailish’s description of her photo above she identifies the flag that is visible in the trees (left center) as being atop Harthill Castle. This means that the photo is taken near Oyne looking South toward Bennachie. If you were to cross over the ridge you would arrive in the valley of the River Don and the Alford battlefield. What is more, the above mentioned Gadie (Guadie) Burn is located not very far behind her. About five clicks to her east is the Battlefield of Harlaw.

Alford (in the War of the Three Kingdoms) and Harlaw (an all Scottish affair which decided who was to hold sway in the Earldom of Ross) until recently have been close to the bookends of my wargaming interest. Of course there is always hobby-creep and the newest bookends are Stirling Bridge (Wars of Scottish Independence) and Killiecrankie (The Williamite War). Much new painting and reorganization is now required.

Peter Page (The Advance on Leith) is now actively working on Alford and I’m near giddy that someone else has a passion for Scotland’s part in the W3K using the For King and Parliament rules. I’ll play through and present his Alford scenario in a future post.

In the mean time I will start pushing back in time toward Harlaw -or Bannockburn -or Flodden (I have not fully committed to which yet).

By the way, Ailish Sinclair (whose lovely photos she has given me permission to occasionally use) is also a writer and storyteller. Her first historic* novel, The Mermaid and the Bear, will be released in mid-October (just in time for 2019 Halloween!). It is set principally in late 16th century Aberdeenshire at the height of the witch scare. I mention her book in particular because at least two of my loyal readers (you know who you are!) are deeply interested in this genre. (* Oops! While I hope it will indeed be historic as a type I should have written “historical” -d_guy)