Wallace & the Battle of Black Earnside – Perthshire

One of the lesser known battles of the War of Independance (Scotland against the English aggressors) took place in the neighbourhood of Newburgh/Lindores Abbey (approx. 11 miles from Perth where I live just now), within the ‘Forest of Irnsyde’. Historians find difficulty in reconciling the date … 12 June, 1298 with other facts in Wallace’s history but Blair, (William Wallace’s chaplain ) states on the 12 June 1298, the guardian of the kingdom (Wallace) vanquished the English at Ironside, with their general Aylmer de Valance, Earl of Pembroke (Info from a Book ‘Relations Arnaldi Blair, capellani’) . The battle is described by Blind Harry, the minstrel (Blind Harry, also known as Harry, Hary or Henry the Minstrel, is renowned as the author of The Actes and Deidis of the Illustre and Vallyeant Campioun Schir William Wallace, more commonly known as The Wallace).  The name of Wallace’s Den is attached to a deep gully on the farm of Parkhill and affords evidence of the site of the battle. The Action at Earnside was a skirmish which took place in the Wars of Scottish but known as the last action to be fought by William Wallace. Even its location is uncertain, records describe it as taking place at “Yrenside”. This is usually interpreted to mean “Earnside”, somewhere on the banks of the River Earn which flows into the River Tay – the river that runs through Perth. There is mention in English records of compensation being paid for horses lost in a flight from William Wallace at “Yrenside”. To complicate this further, a plaque at a site called “Black Earnside” near Newburgh in the Kingdon of Fife claims that Wallace defeated the Earl of Pembroke here on 12 June 1298.  On this site a major tactical battle was fought and won for Scotland by their guardian Sir William Wallace against the Earl of Pembroke, who was acting on the orders of his English Master, Edward Plantagenet. This plaque has been erected by the people of Newburgh in recognition of the part played by their forebears in assisting Sir William Wallace in the defence of our country. You were the flower of Scotland and your grandchildren thank you

Background and some wee facts; It was from the lands of Parkhill (see map) that the Monks quarried the stone for Lindores Abbey in Newburgh. They belonged at that time to David, Earl of Huntingdon and Angus. To the west of Parkhill stretched for miles a wood known as Black Earn side, or as it was sometimes mis-spelt, Black Iron side. It was a dark wood which covered the hillside and extended down to the river edge. William Wallace in his fight against the English often used Black Earn side as a sheltered and there is still a bridge about two miles east from the Abbey known as ‘Wallace’s Brig’. “This wood we’ll hold as long as we stand, To the last man we’ll fight it, sword in hand. The right is ours, let’s do it manfully; I’ll free this land once more before I die.”

Wallace and his triumphant followers retired to the Abbey, to recuperate and celebrate their victory, but the questions begs; did he enjoy whisky there?  This location is often visited by myself, as the abbey is also now a tourist attraction and whisky distillery!   I urge you to visit this link;   https://lindoresabbeydistillery.com With Lindores Abbey’s widely recognised links to the earliest written reference to Scotch Whisky. ‘For the whisky lover, it is a pilgrimage.’  – Acclaimed whisky writer Michael Jackson

Perhaps the most historic event ever witnessed at Lindores Abbey was the meeting in 1306 of three knights, Sir Gilbert Hay of Errol, Sir Neil Campbell of Lochaw, and Sir Alexander Seton, for the sealing at the high altar and the vow they made to ”defend the King Robert Bruce and his crown to the last of their blood and fortunes”.  These Knights were some of the Bruce’s staunchest friends and they were all well rewarded for their loyalty by the King when he took power, even the Campbell – Neil, the only good one in that horrendous clan. OR maybe the most historic event was the still the monks made whisky from!  So you see children; once in a while good emerges from bad, why not include this site in your next visit to Scotland? Perth is at the very centre of the country and where we are based, if anyone knows this area, surely it is a local!