That same day, the Saga tells us, King Hakon
"sailed away from the Cumbraes and out to Molas Isle (Lamlash),
and lay there some nights. Thither came to him those men whom he
had sent to Ireland; and told him that the Irish would keep the
whole host that winter on the understanding that Hakon would
free them from the sway of the Englishmen."
Hakon, however, decided to sail northward to Orkney. He had made
a brave fight, but it could only have been a piece of bravado
that on his way he gave to Dugall, and Allan his brother, the
lands of King Eoghan, Bute to Ruari, and Arran to Margad or
Marchad, and also the castle of Dunaverty to Dugall.
The old king reached Kirkwall, there
intending to wait till he could gather another force, but the
terrible disaster he had suffered, and no doubt fatigue and
anger, brought on a fever from which he died. His body was taken
to Norway, and buried in the Cathedral of Bergen. He had reigned
for nearly fifty years, and his name is one of the greatest on
the roll of the Norwegian kings.
The battle of
Largs went to Alexander. Much has been made of it, but it was
not the victory it has been claimed to be, the force of the
Scottish king being an overwhelming one when pitted against the,
at the most, few hundred Norsemen who were able to land. In
truth, the storm did more for Scotland on that occasion than the
forces of its king. The battle, however, ended the most terrible
chapter in the history of the Western Isles and Highlands of
Scotland. It is true that for a full hundred years, since the
days of Somerled, the time had been a comparatively peaceful one
in the Southern Isles. Yet still for Scotland it was essential
that the Norwegian menace should be removed finally from her
doors. It is satisfactory to those who love the Hebrides to
remember that one of our own blood and race was undoubtedly the
real "Tamer of the Ravens," the true Hammer of the Norsemen, and
not the Scottish king.
Hakon was succeeded by
Magnus, who, on the death of the King of Man in 1265, was
persuaded to hand over all the Western Islands formally to
Scotland, it being stipulated in the treaty that such of the
subjects of Norway who wished to leave the Hebrides should have
full liberty to do so, with all their effects, while those who
wished to remain were to become loyal subjects of Scotland.