WHERE Langside College and the old Victoria Infirmary now stand, Glasgow’s most famous battle once raged.

Thanks to a dedicated group of local residents, the real story of the Battle of Langside has been captured in a fantastic publication, newly updated and upgraded for 2024.

Glasgow Times: Pupils from Battlefield Primary

Iain Ross Wallace, convener of Langside Community Heritage, explains: “We had a small print run for the first edition, just 2000 copies, as we did not know what the demand would be.

“It proved very popular, so we obtained funding from GCC's Langside Local Area Partnership for a re-print of 5000 copies.

Glasgow Times: The updated guide is now available

“We also had sponsorship from Kinderhandl Enterprise CIC based in Battlefield.”

Pupils from Battlefield Primary joined Langside Community Heritage and Professor Tony Pollard, director of the Centre for Battlefield Archaeology and professor of conflict history at Glasgow University, for a special launch event recently.

Glasgow Times: Professor Tony PollardProfessor Tony Pollard (Image: Colin Mearns/Newsquest)

The new publication, Battle of Langside 1568, includes improved maps and images, additional information and images on weapons and tactics, and clarification of Mary's actions immediately before and during the battle, based on recent research, adds Iain.

The battle took place on May 13, 1568, after around 10,000 armed soldiers descended upon the small village of Langside.

Glasgow Times: Pupils from Battlefield Primary

On one side was Mary, Queen of Scots and her supporters and on the other, the army of her half-brother, the Regent James Stewart 1st Earl of Moray, representing Mary’s only son and crowned heir, the infant King James VI and future monarch of the United Kingdom.

It was short and bloody, with 150 dead, and it was disastrous for Mary, whose defeat meant the end of her hopes of reclaiming the throne of Scotland. The Battle of Langside was her final act before she fled to England, where she was imprisoned and executed.

The guide, which was originally published to mark the 450th anniversary of the battle, also explains the reason for the location of the Langside Monument, designed by Alexander Skirving, which was erected in 1887, 300 years after Mary’s death.

Glasgow Times: Langside MonumentLangside Monument (Image: Colin Mearns/Newsquest)

“In addition to the lion with a cannonball under its paw, the column is decorated with thistles, roses and fleur-de-lys, reflecting Mary’s coat-of-arms,” it explains. “It marks the site of the most ferocious hand-to-hand part of the battle and its decisive turning point.”

The new edition also aims to dispel some of the myths surrounding Mary and the battle, which have been embellished over the years.

Glasgow Times: Professor Tony PollardProfessor Tony Pollard (Image: Colin Mearns/Newsquest)

It explains: “If you walk along Langside Avenue to the junction with Pollokshaws Road, you are at the centre of the old village of Crossmyloof.

“Across from Langside Halls is an old pub called the Corona. Above the door is a plaster mould of a hand with a cross. The story goes that, after the battle, Mary tried to get to Dumbarton by this route but was blocked. She placed her cross in her hand (loof in Old Scots) and said, 'by the cross in my loof I will be there tonight, in spite of yon traitors'.

“However, the name pre-dates the battle and it is more likely that Mary rode south to avoid capture.”

Old marsh ground, roughly where the pond is now in Queen’s Park, was said to be where the dead of the battle were buried.

“It was known locally as the Deil’s Kirkyard,” explains the new guide. “There is in fact no record of where the dead of the Battle of Langside were buried. Most were Hamiltons and their bodies may well have been taken home according to custom.”

The guide also considers suggestions of where Mary was sent to watch the battle from a place of safety and rapidly re-join her army.

It rules out some of the more common ideas, including Court Knowe, a small knoll immediately adjacent to the site of Old Cathcart Castle, the tower of the Stewarts of Castlemilk, who were amongst Mary’s supporters and Crookston Castle.

“More likely is the low ridge of Aikenhead, across which runs Prospecthill Road,” says the guide. “This is on the line of advance of Mary’s army on the morning of the battle and would have left a clear route along which to withdraw.”