The Siege of Caerlaverock

by Sir Arni Grimson

In July of this year, members of Perfidious Albion and Lothene Experimental Archaeology attended an event organised by The Commission of Array to commemorate the 700th anniversary of Edward I of England besieging Caerlaverock Castle near Dumfries.

The presence of five knights and only one squire in the party led to a certain amount of dispute as to whose turn it was to make the squire do all the work, but the argument was resolved amicably when it was suggested that Sir Hrolf's absent squire be persecuted mercilessly by all present at the next convenient occasion.

Day One - "Gentlemen in England yet abed..."
On Saturday morning we woke early and ate bacon and mushroom rolls as well as porridge for breakfast. Thus fortified we unloaded an assortment of looms, chests, chairs, mailshirts and assorted weaponry into the castle kitchen, where we proceeded to demonstrate sprang, tablet weaving and spinning to passing tourists.
Around noon there was a call for all combatants to turn out for a weapons inspection. Lady Ragnhild thought it unnecessary to change from her dress into more martial gear, until it became apparent that there was a crowd of about 100 people waiting to see the garrison, and furthermore, in addition to the advertised weapons inspection, there was a parade around the castle followed by a practice fight on the wooden battlements in front of the castle. Fortunately no damage to brocade, surcoate or hairstyle was reported during the engagement.
Around 2pm, we were asked to join the English ranks instead of the Scots and proceeded to form a solid two ranked wall which so intimidated the opposition that very few people dared risk a fight with us.
Sir Hrolf entertained us during the boring bits between fights with an alternative version of the speech from Shakespeare's Henry VI concerning "Gentlemen in England yet abed shall hold their manhood...." and diuerse other edifying tales. Lady Ragnhild declared that she would never think of the classics of English literature in the same way again.
We manned a siege engine to charge the gates, but its axle broke as we were wheeling it across the rather uneven ground, so we detached the battering ram and broke the gates by force of arms. Shortly thereafter the Scots surrendered.
The evening was spent partaking of Sir Gunnar's excellent chilli and, inevitably, a certain amount of ale was consumed around the camp stove, although Sir Rhodri, of course, remained steadfastly sober.

Day Two - Target Rich Environment
Yet again the morning was spent demonstrating an assortment of crafts to an assortment of tourists.
Halfdan succeeded in miscalculating the distance to the rank behind him during the midday weapons inspection and accidentally hit a fellow member of the garrison with the butt of his spear, missing both legs and causing the gentleman's eyes to water somewhat.
Our request to be allowed to reinforce the beleaguered Scottish garrison was granted, and we were assigned to be Lord Maxwell's guard. This occasioned much sallying forth into a gloriously target rich environment.
Our unit formation proved to be almost unbeatable, and our opponents were reduced to the strategy of ignoring the kills we scored on them in order to avoid defeat.
The English siege engines fired water balloons into the castle, but as it was raining anyway this caused little additional discomfort to our forces.

pictures from Caerlaverock from Historic Scotland Magazine and The Dumfries and Galloway Standard and Advertiser

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