Women Warriors in Scotland

The mythical Queen Scathach of Skye trained the hero CúChulainn.
(sources: Táin Bó Cualgne, the "Cattle Raid of Cooley", and "Death of Aoife's only son" - information given by Katrin.)

Aife (Aoife or Aifa) of Alba (Scotland) fought against Scathach and CúChulainn in the Scottish Highlands.
(see also Táin Bó Cualgne,)

In 1297 the Countess of Ross led her own troops during William Wallace and Andrew de Moray's battles with the English.
(see also Andrew De Moray)

"Isobel, Countess of Buchan: (A.D. 1296-1358) Isobel MacDuff left her husband, the Earl of Buchan (Taking the finest warhorses with her), to fight for the Bruce, a cause of which her husband did not approve. The earl went as far as to issue a warrant for her death. Captured by Edward and taken to England, the countess of Buchan was imprisoned in a small cage for four years. She afterwards retired to convent life."
(information given by Geoff Cook - geoff.cook@btinternet.com)

"Isabelle of England: (A.D. 1285?-1313?) Daughter of Phillippe le Bel of France, wife of Edward II of England. She took up arms against her husband and his supporters. When Edward III came to the throne, he forced Isabelle to flee to Scotland, where, during the ensuing war, she travelled with a defending troop of like-spirited women including two sisters of Nigel and Robert Bruce (Christian, Lady Bruce and Isobel, Countess of Buchan). Against this troop of noblewomen, Edward issued a formal proscription. He did capture several and imprison them. Isabelle he forced to retire to a convent life lest she try further conquests."
(information given by Geoff Cook - geoff.cook@btinternet.com)

"Christian, Lady Bruce: Sister of Robert I. During the Wars of Independence and the reign of Edward I, Lady Bruce defended Kildrummy Castle when it was besieged by David of Strathbogie, who served English interests. Strathbogie fell in battle, and it was left to his widow to defend (for seven months) the island fortress of Lochindorb against three thousand vengeful Scots."
(information given by Geoff Cook - geoff.cook@btinternet.com.)

"Christian's sisters Marjory Bruce and Mary Bruce were also warlike, as was that grotesquely punished Bruce supporter Isobel, Countess of Buchan."
(information given by Geoff Cook - geoff.cook@btinternet.com)

"Black Agnes: Lady Agnes Randolph (A.D. 1300?-1369?), wife of Patrick the fourth earl of Dunbar and the second earl of March. In her youth, she fought for the Bruce, but is better remembered for the later defense of her castle. In 1334, Black Agnes daughter of the great Randolf, earl of Moray, successfully held her castle at Dunbar against the besieging forces of England's earl of Salisbury for over five months, despite the unusual number of engineers and elaborate equipment brought against her. After each assault on her fortress, her maids dusted the merlins and crenels, treating her foes and the dreadfuls seige as a tiresome jest.
She is celebrated in a folk song attributed to Salisbury:
"She kept a stir in tower and trench,
That brawling, boisterous Scottish wench,
Came I early, came I late
I found Agnes at the gate."
Sir Walter Scott said, 'From the record of Scottish heroes, none can presume to erase her.' "
(information given by Geoff Cook - geoff.cook@btinternet.com. See also Black Agnes)

Lilliard led the Scots at the Battle of Ancrum in 1545 She killed the English commander but was killed herself later in the battle.
(See also The Grave of Maid Lilliard and Maxton)

The Scots army which marched on Newcastle in 1644 during the English Civil War is reported to have included women regular soldiers.
(source "Women All on Fire" - Alison Plowden - Sutton Publishing - 0-7509-2552-3)

Jean (Jenny) Cameron of Glendessary raised 300 men and led them to the raising of the Jacobite standard in Scotland on 19th August 1745
(source "Damn Rebel Bitches - Women of the '45" - Maggie Craig - Mainstream Publishing - 1-85158-962-7)

Lady Anne Macintosh (also known as Anne Farquharson of Invercauld and Colonel Anne) was married to the Laird of Macintosh who supported the Hannoverians during the Jacobite rising in Scotland in 1745-6. Anne sided with the Jacobites and raised several hundred men to fight for them, although she never led her men into battle herself. At various points both she and her husband were captured and were released into each others' custody.
(source "Damn Rebel Bitches - Women of the '45" - Maggie Craig - Mainstream Publishing - 1-85158-962-7)

Lady Lude fired the first shot of the Jacobite attack on Blair Castle, Scotland. This was her own family home and had been taken over by the Hanoverians.
(source "Damn Rebel Bitches - Women of the '45" - Maggie Craig - Mainstream Publishing - 1-85158-962-7)

Lady Margaret Oglivy and Margaret Murray (or Fergusson) accompanied their husbands who were officers in Bonnie Prince Charlie's (Prince Charles Edward Stewart or The Young Pretender of Scotland) army in 1745-6. Mrs Murray is reputed to have been directly involved in seizing horses and money for the army.
(source "Damn Rebel Bitches - Women of the '45" - Maggie Craig - Mainstream Publishing - 1-85158-962-7)

In 1779 a volunteer for the 81st Highland Regiment picked up at Drumblade, Scotland turned out to be a woman.
(source "18th Century Highlanders" - Stuart Reid and Mike Chappell - Osprey - 1-85532-316-8)

Dr "James" Barry did a degree at Edinburgh Medical School. She joined the British Army in 1813 became Surgeon General. Her gender was discovered after her death. in 1865.

Britain had women in the Special Operations Forces (or SOE) working behind enemy lines.

The Women's Auxiliary Air Force (WAAF) had 1,700 members at the outbreak of WW2 and 180,000 by 1943. In 1949 it became the Women's Royal Air Force (WRAF).



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These pages are provided by Nicky Saunders of Lothene Experimental Archaeology