This battle, regarded by many today as the conflict between Highlanders and Lowlanders which killed the expansion of Gaelic influence, was one of the most brutal in Scottish history, becoming known as ‘Red Harlaw’.
While James I was growing up in English jails, Donald, Lord of the Isles made it his business to secure the Earldom of Ross’ estates before the Stewarts or Albany, the Governor of Scotland could, bringing his army westwards into Inverness and over the River Spey.
It may well have also been his desire to plunder and destroy Aberdeen.
His advance was met two miles past Inverurie at Harlaw. Coming from their north-eastern lands were a force of Keiths, Forbes‘, Leslies and Irvines, led by the Earl of Mar. They battled for most of 24 July until Donald’s men withdrew.
There were no winners or losers on the day but when James I returned to Scotland in April 1424 he quickly set about routing his foes.