350th ANNIVERSARY OF THE BATTLE OF RULLION GREEN
The 28th November was the 350th anniversary of the Battle of Rullion Green
There was an attack on Covenanters in the town of Dalry, Ayrshire, on the 13th November 1666, where troops beat an elderly man who had defaulted on a fine for not attending government-approved church services. The troops were interrupted by four covenanters and then supported by the local populace, who disarmed the soldiers. Robert McClellan of Barscobe led the Rising; he gathered some men in Dalry, led them to Balmaclellan, where after a skirmish with other troops, he raised more men. McClellan led them to Dumfries, and there they captured the local commander, General James Turner, at 5.30 in the morning, still in his nightshirt, in his lodgings on the Whitesands. McClellan, aided by Neilson of Corsock, took the gathering force up to Ayrshire, thence to Lanarkshire, and then to Colinton near Edinburgh, on their way to present their petition to the Parliament. Many flocked to join them. They were marching through some really terrible weather conditions, and were tired and hungry. All the time they were being pursued by General Tam Dalyell of the Binns and his Dragoons.
Having got to the outskirts of Edinburgh the Covenanters received word that the government in the city would not hear their concerns. The messengers also advised that the gates were armed with cannon and there was no support for their cause in the city. With this disheartening news it was decided to return to Galloway and many more of the band went their different ways.
The Next morning, the 28th November they decided to head back southwards, either to disperse or to regroup and evaluate the next step.
About noon they stopped on the slopes of the Pentland hills at Rullion Green and set up a makeshift camp. But it wasn’t long before they heard the sound of the kettle drums. Dalyell and his men, after leaving Lanark had made their way first to Mid Calder, then onto Currie. It was there he found out the location of the Covenanters and set out to stop them.
The Covenanters took as best a defensive position as they could on the slope, and managed to rebuff a couple of attacks on their flanks. But it wasn’t long before Dalyell’s military expertise, and superior numbers took the advantage, It was about 800-900 poorly armed, exhausted Covenanters against 3000-5000 professional troops. The sheer weight of numbers burst through the ranks causing the Covenanters to scatter into the hills, leaving over 50 dead on the field, among them 2 Ministers of the Gospel from Ulster. Around 100 were taken prisoner.
After the battle there was much cruelty given to the Covenanters. In the following days many were hunted down and shot as they made their way home. The prisoners were taken to a place called “Haddo’s Hole” a small room inside St Giles Cathedral to await their fate. Hangings, as many as ten at a time, heads were taken from bodies and sent to the Covenanters home towns, hands were taken and sent to Lanark where they had sworn the Covenant, and torture devices, such as the “boot” and the “thumbscrews” were readily used by the authorities in Edinburgh.
The memorial at the site of the battle reads:
And near to
this place lyes the
Reverend Mr John crookshank
and mr Andrew mccormick
Ministers of the Gospel and
About fifty other true coven-
anted Presbyterians who were
killed in this place in their own
Inocent self-defence and de-
fence of the covenanted
work of Reformation By
Thomas Dalzeel of Bins
upon The 28 of november
1666. Rev. 12-11. Erected
Sept. 28 1738
A Cloud of Witnesses lyes here
Who for Christ’s interest did appear
For to Restore true Liberty
Overturned then by tyrrany.
And by proud Prelats who did Rage
Against the Lord’s own heritage.
They sacificed were for the laws
of Christ their king, his noble cause.
These heroes fought with great renown
By falling got the martyrs crown.
To find out more read
COVENANTERS IN IRELAND
INTRODUCING THE REFORMED PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH.
available from www.covenanterbooks.com