Agnes of Dunbar Castle

I love this story and thought it was a good reminder of when there’s a will, there is a way. I have a bit of Scottish heritage from two branches of my tree. And I have featured other women warriors of the British Isles. I love their history and lore, maybe because of my other Norwegian heritage whose Vikings invaded and conquered it for a while. The Scots contributed much to the betterment of humanity and have a very rich history, in literature and science and engineering.

Agnes, Countess of Dunbar – Wikipedia

There isn’t a lot left of Dunbar Castle and it’s hard to imagine what it would have looked like way back in 1338. Patrick Dunbar was away fighting with the Scots army, leaving the castle in the care of his wife Agnes Randolph along with a handful of soldiers.

That’s when a large English army led by the Earl of Salisbury arrived in the town to try and take advantage of this situation.

Big Mistake.

To kick off the siege, they catapulted huge rocks at the walls, with very little effect. Agnes and her maids mocked the army each day by simply dusting off the sturdy walls with handkerchiefs.

Next, they tried to batter down the doors with a siege engine called a Sow, but Agnes’ small garrison dropped one of the catapulted rocks down and crushed it.

Force wasn’t working, so Salisbury took to bribery instead, paying one of the Scots to keep the gate open while his men stormed the castle. The canny guard took the money but reported the plan straight to Agnes.

When the time came, Salisbury was in the lead to be through the gate first and lucky to be hauled back when the portcullis slammed down shut to trap him.

The attackers must have thought they had an ace up their sleeve when they brought out Agnes’ brother and threatened to kill him if she didn’t open the gate. Agnes just shouted back that if her brother died, then she inherited the Earldom of Moray, so that suited her fine! Don’t worry. They didn’t call her bluff.

By this point, the siege had been going on for 5 months and Salisbury hoped he could starve them out soon. Then, a Scottish force led by Ramsay of Dalhousie managed to sneak into the castle by boat with fresh supplies.

The next day, Agnes sent a freshly baked loaf of bread and some wine out to be delivered to the English commander. Just in case he was hungry…

The English King couldn’t justify the cost of the siege anymore, hauling his troops home. It was a famous victory for Agnes against incredible odds.

It’s safe to say that Salisbury would never underestimate a Scotswoman again!

#Scotland #VisitScotland #VisitEastLothian #ScotlandIsNow

A Strong Scottish Heroine
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