While we are waiting we’ve been finding out a bit about Largs’ most famous landmark which is right opposite the club. The Pencil Monument was built in 1912 to commemorate the Battle of Largs which took place in 1263, when the Scots defeated King Haco of Norway’s troops on the shore of Largs, when their 160 long ships got caught in a storm.
At that time the Norwegian Vikings were in control of the Isles and Argyll. In response to pressure from the Scotts, the King of Norway mounted a pre-emptive attack to secure Norse control of further territory. In July 1263 King Haco is said to have sailed from Bergen with 200 ships. In the Hebrides he was joined by the King of Man with additional forces. From there they sailed down the coast of Scotland, raiding the mainland. Initial negotiations were opened, but this time was used by the Scots to raise their forces. Then, in a storm, many of the Norse ships broke their moorings in the lee of Great Cumbrae and were washed ashore at Largs and an armed engagement ensued. This forced Haco to land his main force in disadvantageous circumstances on a difficult coastline.
Little is know of the detail of the action, which soon escalated into a full battle, but it seems that the Norse were never able to form up fully in battle array before they were engaged. The arrival of Scottish reinforcements may finally have turned the tide of the action, forcing the Norse army to break. It is said that they were then pursued with great slaughter, with most fleeing to their boats.
The Viking link remains strong in Largs and there is an interactive exhibition called the Viking Experience that you can visit year round. There are also a number of fun Viking related displays around the town including these impressive floral Vikings on the waterfront.
While we’ve been typing this the start of a southerly sea breeze seems to have appeared so stay tuned and hopefully we’ll be racing soon.