It’s a battle most will never have heard of, but it changed the face of Scotland, saving the nation from subjugation by the Vikings - and it took place at Cruden Bay.
2012 marks the millennial anniversary of the Battle of Cruden, which local traditions assert saw the Scots King Malcolm II and his soldiers pitted against a ferocious Viking army led by the man who would later become Canute, King of Norway, Denmark and England. Local churches plan to commemorate the subsequent establishment of the area’s first chapel - dedicated to St Olaf of Norway and the fallen of the battle - later this year.
Fought in 1012, the bloody, close fought battle ended with a withdrawal by the Danes, preserving Scotland’s independence. Viking attacks had been frequent in the area for hundreds of years, with the Danish invasion marking the high watermark of Scandinavian power projection in the north-east. Though Scandinavian jarls remained in possession of Sutherland, the Northern Isles and the Outer Hebrides, most of mainland Scotland was secured.
Malcolm - agreed by most historians to have been the mutual grandfather of Duncan and Macbeth of Shakespearean fame - was a competent monarch whose diplomacy and prowess in battle secured the country’s northern borders.
St James’ Church, Cruden Parish Church and the Cruden Bay Congregational Church will commemorate the aftermath of the battle, which saw King Malcolm establish a chapel to St Olaf, a Christian saint both sides could respect. The series of events commemorate the first Christian establishment in the area, and are set to include an open air ceremony near the reputed battlefield.