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The Anecdotage of Glasgow
Court Know of Mary Queen of Scots; and Battle of Langside, 1568


ABOUT a hundred yards or so east from the castle of Cathcart is the Court Knowe, where Mary Queen of Scots stood at the most critical moment of her life. A thorn-tree which threw its shadow over her, and was long called by her name, grew on the spot until the close of last century, when it fell into decay through age. An upright slab of stone, with a rude carving of the Scottish crown, and the letters, "M.R., 1568," now marks the spot. This interesting memento of the beauteous being who in a past age ascended to its site a queen with thousands of gallant men at her command, and in one little hour thereafter descended from it a hapless fugitive, has been appropriately shaded by a fine clump of trees. We find the speed-well, the king-cup, and the forget-me-not blooming in beauty on the velvet turf that had been dewed with the tears of beauteous royalty, and the emblematic

"Pansy that looks up
Like a thought earth-planted."

It is indeed a lovely and a fitting place to muse on that fair, ill-fated lady, whose memory is inseparably linked to so many beauteous scenes, and whose story must ever touch the deepest sympathies of the pensive heart. The evening sun is bathing the landscape in mellow radiance while we linger, and the wild birds are singing their vespers as if misfortune and sorrow had never flung their shadows there; but the winds are murmuring a plaintive melody among the trembling leaves, and showering around us the fine gold of the laburnum, which is now becoming dim, as if Nature, entering into our feelings, meant to show the evanescence of earthly glory.

The landscape seen from this station is extensive and beautiful, including, as is well known, an excellent prospect of the battlefield of Langside. The little hamlet so named, now a portion of the great commercial metropolis of Scotland, has been rendered remarkable by the decisive battle which occurred in its vicinity between the troops of Queen Mary and those of the Regent Murray, on the 13th of May, 1568, and it is finely situated nearly on the ridge of a long hill to the south of the Queen’s Park, near to the southern gate. At the top of the road from the east, now named Battlefield Road, up which the Queen’s army charged in their effort to force their way westward, a handsome monumental pillar suitably inscribed and surmounted by the Scottish lion rampant now marks the scene -of conflict.

The recently-erected Victoria Infirmary, and a handsome new church in connection with the Established Church of Scotland, are on the left or east side of the road passing from the park. Many relics of the battle have been found from time to time in the neighbourhood, including the site of the church when its foundation was being dug out.

The story of the battle, with its antecedents and ultimate Consequences, is familiar to every student of Scottish history and need not be here repeated in detail. Suffice it to say that the Queen with her army was on the march from Hamilton to Dumbarton, when they were intercepted by the vigilant and energetic Regent Murray, who pushed out from Glasgow with all the forces he could command, and took up a favourable position at Camphill and Lang-side. With greater bravery than prudence the Queen’s party formed themselves into order of battle on the north side of Clincart Hill, from which they descended and rashly rushed up the hill on which the Regent’s forces stood ready to receive them. The struggle was sanguinary but brief, the Queen’s army was repulsed, and a skilful charge of cavalry directed against their flank turned their repulse and confusion into a complete route.

Nearly three hundred of the Queen’s army fell on the field of battle, and four hundred were made prisoners, while the loss on the part of the Regent was very trifling. On returning to the city he caused thanks to be publicly offered to the Deity for the victory; and he rewarded the Corporation of Bakers, who had supplied his forces with bread, and had also distinguished themselves by their bravery in the conflict, by bestowing on them the lands of Partick, where their mills are now built, near to the south-west portion of the Kelvingrove Park.

Poor Mary, on seeing the overthrow of her friends, took to flight, and, it is said, scarcely closed an eye until she arrived at Dundrennan Abbey in Galloway, nearly sixty miles from the fatal scene. By what route she arrived there is not precisely known, but several spots in our vicinity are pointed out by tradition as marking the way she took. Between Catheart and Rutherglen is a place called Mal’s Mire, where it is said her horse almost stuck fast, in consequence of the muddy nature of the soil. On the same line, but nearer Rutherglen, is a place called the Pants, it is said from the panting which her steed made in hurrying past, A little to the east of this, at a place called Dins Dykes, two fellows who were cutting hay lifted their scythes and threatened to take her captive. Some of her friends, however, coming up, compelled the haymakers to clear the way, when she passed on; and we next hear of her in a Cambuslang tradition, crossing the Clyde a little below Carmyle, at a place called the Thief’s Ford. Here we lose sight of her until, weary and worn, at the close of the day she arrived at Dundrennan,

It may be mentioned that the course of her flight led her to pass at a short distance on her right Castlemilk, at the base of the Cathkin Hills, about a mile and a half to the south-east of the Court Knowe, a stately structure of considerable antiquity, half-hidden among its old ancestral trees, in which mansion, it is said, the fair and hapless Scottish Queen slept on the night preceding the battle which blasted all her hopes.


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