Battle of Degsastan
The battle of Degsastan/Daegsastane was probably the start of the process of anglicisation the South of Scotland.
- Date 603
- Location Not known although There are three claimants as the site of this battle:
- Dalston, Carlisle
- Florida Rig, Liddesdale, Roxburghshire which was a popular choice in the last century but does not appear to stand up to recent investigation. The evidence for Florida appears to rest upon the earlier existence of a settlement known as Dawstones or Daegstons on this site.
- Dawston Burn, Liddesdale, Roxburghshire.
Saint Bede the Venerable /Bǣda names the site of Aethelfrith’s victory as Degsastan (the Stone of Degsa) and calls it a “very famous place”.
- Belligerents King Æthelfrith of Bernicia Pagan King of Northumbria v the Gaels under Áedán mac Gabráin, Christian King of the Dalriada Scots and his Irish allies. Aedan mac Gabrann (574–608 AD) was a successful warlord having extended the power of the Gaelic kingdom of Dál Riata from Orkney to the Isle of Man. In campaigns against Picts, Britons and fellow Gaels in Ireland he triumphed until he was finally stopped by the Angles at this Battle.
According to Bede's account in his Historia ecclesiastica gentis Anglorum (Book I, chapter 34), Æthelfrith had won many victories against the Britons and was expanding his power and territory, which concerned Áedán, who led "an immense and mighty army" against Æthelfrith.
Æthelfrith had the smaller army, but Bede reports that almost all of Áedán's army was slain, and Áedán himself fled. After this defeat, according to Bede, the Irish kings in Britain would not make war against the English again, right up to Bede's own time (130 years later).
- Result Æthelfrith won a decisive victory
Commanders and leaders
Gaels, Dál Riatans
- Áedán mac Gabráin, king of Dál Riada.
Casualties and losses
- Æthelfrith's brother Theodbald was killed in the battle.
- Áedán's army included the Bernician exile Hering, son of the former Bernician king Hussa; his participation is mentioned by the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle (manuscript E, year 603), and may indicate dynastic rivalry among the Bernicians.
- Áedán's army also included the Cenél nEógain prince Máel Umai mac Báetáin, who is said by Irish sources to have slain Eanfrith, brother of Æthelfrith.
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References, Sources and Further Reading
- Scotland - The History of a Nation by Magnus Magnusson