Scottish Castles Association

Preserving the Past for the Future

War Damaged Buildings Part 2

In Part 1 of this series attention was paid to castles that bore the marks of conflict. This account takes a look at 3 churches that suffered the same attention.

Annan Church (Dumfries)

In 1547 the English simultaneously invaded the eastern and western marches of Scotland. While Somerset advanced on Edinburgh, Thomas Wharton entered Dumfriesshire and on 11 September appeared before the town of Annan.

The Scots under Captain James Stewart had garrisoned the town with 50 men and 7 gunners esconced in the strongly walled church.

His summons rejected Wharton opened a bombardment  with his 6 cannon but to little effect.

Next morning he changed tactics. While the cannon kept up a brisk fire a wooden pavise was manoeuvred to the walls and 6 pioneers attempted to undermine the steeple. The Scots dropped heavy stones killing 4 of the sappers. The attempt was abandonned.

Wharton now switched to the east gable.

Once again they approached the wall but this time laying a powder charge which exploded killing 7 of the defenders and bringing down the wall and part of the roof. Immediately the cannon fired into the breach and yet more charges were laid against the walls. The Scots continued to defend the tower but Stewart saw that resistance was hopeless and led out 57 survivors.

In spite of the capitulation Wharton exploded the mines and burned Annan to the ground.

Annan Church drawing

 Drawing of Annan Church in 1547 showing the fallen spire and damaged east gable

old drawing of Annan showing Tower House

Depiction of Annan in 1564 with a tower house on the site of the church

When the Scots recovered Annan they built a tower house on the site. The mound behind the tower is the motte of the old castle extant today.

St Marys Church Stirling

St Mary's Church with shot damaged wall

St Mary's Church (Stirling)

In 1651 Cromwell quit Scotland and left  the mopping up to his able deputy General Monk.

On the 6th August Monk entered Stirling and summoned the castle to surrender. The next day he began the construction artillery platforms under the protection of sharp shooters placed in the church tower. The Scots replied in kind. On the 14th August Monk’s 'great guns' came into play whereupon the Scots surrendered. Three hundred men marched out leaving the castle 'much defaced'.

The marks of this action are clearly visible on the walls of the church tower.

St Michaels Church Linlithgow

St Michae'ls Church in Linlithgow with evidence of an attack

St Michael's Church (Linlithgow)

Cromwell's victory over the Scots at Dunbar in September 1650 brought the war no closer to an end. The defeated Scots Army retreated through Linlithgow to Edinburgh where they quickly established a defensive line. Cromwell was brought to a halt. Unable to bring the Scots to action he garrisoned Linlithgow and slowly set about reducing the local strongholds.

The Scots were not idle and in the meantime and mounted numerous hit-and-run raids on Cromwell's lines of communication.

The first of many attacks on Linlithgow took place in the early hours of 11th January 1651. Under the cover of  a winter storm 2,000 Scots from Stirling beat up the English quarters. 'It was the most tempestuous night that I think I knew in my life for snow and wind' recorded one of the English but although the Scots entered the town and engaged in street to street fighting they were unable to overcome the garrison and were forced to withdraw.

On April 21st the Scots played a similar trick. Hidden this time by thick fog they surprised the 'scouts' and penetrated the town. Major Sydenham, the commander, was seriously wounded but his men fought back and once once more the Scots were driven out.

July 8th and the Scots were back again this time killing 8 of the English foot and 12 of their troopers.

On 21st July 1651 the English broke the Scots defensive line at the Battle of Inverkeithing and Cromwell was free to advance from Linlithgow - no doubt to the joy of its inhabitants.

The town had undergone more than its fair share of action during the occupation -  visibily witnessed by the shot marks on the walls of its palace and church.

See Part 1 - War Damaged Strongholds

Article by SCA member Brian McGarrigle

Added: 28 Feb 2013 Updated: 28 Mar 2018
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