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)

8 thoughts on “Bennachie: Alford (1645) and Harlaw (1411)

  1. Fought auldearn on line with pike and shot campaigns …montrose annihilated the covenanters if you ever fancy a fight online get yourself a copy … the boyne , yellow ford and others are on that game system


    • Hi Stephen – I have played Pike and Shot on my iPad and enjoy it. Have not done much with campaigns …well anything, really. I’ll need to take a look! Thanks for the heads up. Given my slowness in getting figures done I will likely never have enough LOA period figures to do either The Boyne or Aughrim. Actually do have figures in progress for the Yellow Ford (and maybe Kinsale, but need to deal with the Spanish).


  2. Very interesting reading for sure! I just watched he miniseries Outlander on Netflix and past all of he “romance novel” aspects I really enjoyed the Scottish and military parts. Musty say though that some bits were a bit disturbing to me!, I recently read a good account of Killiecrankie, and it was not and cut and dry as I had always thought. Love the Williamite period!!! Terry


    • Hi Terry – thanks for the comment. Somewhere on this blog is the Battle of Mulroy (a year before Killiecrankie). One of the eyewitness accounts of Killiecrankie was written by a participant of Mulroy, a government soldier of the Watch (from Inverness), who was on the losing side in both battles. I would love to do Killiecrankie but the holdup is finding the patience to modify 36 LOA figures with bonnets.
      I would love to see you do Killiecrankie armies for HOTT!


  3. Hello Bill

    I have had issues with my PC lately so l only just managed to get the army lists and map ready for the refight last Saturday. I will send you a copy of my scenario as soon as l have finished writing it up properly along with my reasoning behind what troops l used.. I will be putting up a breif battle report on the Pendraken forum once l get my pictured into flickr.

    Killiecrankie…hmmmm l’ve got plenty of highlanders…☺

    Best regards


    • Sounds good, Peter.

      Looking forward to pics and report as well as trying out the scenario. What you were proposing for Montrose’s reserve sound really interesting.

      One simply cannot have too many Highlanders!


  4. I’m glad to see that you are willing to expand your boundaries. I smiled at that thought. Take care of yourself. Enjoy your research.


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