'By the Power of the Sword' - Orkney and the Carbisdale Campaign, 1649-1650

Activity: Talk / Presentation / Podcast / WebinarInvited talk


This paper examines the final expedition of the Royalist Captain-General, James Graham, Marquis of Montrose. Montrose’s small army of diehard supporters and mercenaries occupied Orkney in September 1649 in the first stage of a new Royalist offensive against the Scottish Covenanting regime. However, unable to replicate the series of stunning royalist victories in 1644-1645, Montrose’s army was fatally routed at the Battle of Carbisdale (27 April 1650). Because of this defeat, and Charles II’s subsequent disownment of the venture, Montrose’s final expedition has often been disregarded as a forlorn, misguided and ultimately disastrous final throw of the Royalist dice. Using previously underutilised local records, this paper re-examines the marquis’ failed venture with particular focus on the events which transpired in Orkney. It will comment upon the level of support which Montrose and his men were able to harness over the course of 1649-1650, and consider the short- and long-term legacy which the campaign left behind in Orkney.
Period12 May 2022
Held atCentre for History
Degree of RecognitionInternational