The Earl of Lennox

Malcolm Earl of Lennox (1264-1333) the fifth Earl of Lennox owned much of the land around Dumbarton and Cardross. Joined The Bruce in 1305.

The Earl of Lennox


One of the Bannockburn commanders, he covered the ground before him with caltrops ( spiked metal shards which acted as primitive landmines) stopping the English horses from charging his men. He fought deep into his old age before dying at 69 at the battle of Halidon hill.

Clan History

Malcolm the fifth Earl of Lennox (1264-1333) His estates covered most of Dunbartonshire and parts of West Stirlingshire. His great-grandfather owned Dumbarton Castle until 1232 AD when it was taken from him by Alexander II. His land included The Trossachs and Loch Lomond. He became the Earl in 1303 only after being forced to agree that King Edward the first of England was his rightful king. He never forgot this injustice and, with the Earl of Atholl, was the first nobleman of Scotland to swear allegiance to King Robert Bruce in 1306.

Like his father, Malcolm (fourth Earl) who supported The Bruce and Wallace in their causes. He was eager to see a true Scottish King on the throne. The Clan Pharlan (who would become Macfarlane) had been created by his great-uncle Gilchrist and had always fought by the side of the Lennox Earls. This meant that Malcolm could already bring a whole clan of warriors to fight at King Roberts’s side. Unfortunately King Robert was defeated in a skirmish at Methven which forced his remaining followers to head to the Lennox lands in the west. After seeing the Lennox contingent at Methven and learning of Malcolm's true loyalties, the English King gave the Lennox lands to Sir John de Menteith, the man who betrayed William Wallace.




When the call to arms came for the most renowned confrontation in Scottish military history, Earl Malcolm led the Clan Pharlan and his other supporters to fight with the King's brother Edward on the right flank of the army. Joining them were men of Angus, Buchan, Mar and Strathearn making a total of eighteen hundred infantrymen. Earl Malcolm led six hundred of these, but before taking command he advised King Robert Bruce to scatter caltrops, which were pointed metal shards, as a primitive minefield to further slow the advance of the English cavalry. This would allow the Schiltrons (Scottish pike companies) to take down the English with little effort.




Even when the Battle of Bannockburn was fought the Earl of Lennox was fifty years old, in the following years King Robert purchased Dumbarton Castle with lands formerly belonging to Earl Malcolm. King Robert was unwilling to trade with Menteith, the betrayer of Wallace, but Earl Malcolm convinced him that the impregnable fortress, which had held out even after Bannockburn, was worth the price. So the Earl traded some of his own ancestral lands for the good of the kingdom, but this was not his last gesture for Scotland. At the age of sixty-nine he led his followers yet again into battle at Halidon Hill where he died, a true servant to his country to the last.