The Battle of Ancrum Moor, fought on February 27th 1545, was, for the Scots, a small light in a period of utter despair. Their victory, aided by the opportune desertion of some 700 of their fellow countrymen initially bonded to the English, although not of major significance, provided a much needed glimmer of hope in a time of constant reverses.
Estimates of the fallen vary. Most accounts set the English losses at about 800, whilst those of the Scots are fancifully quoted as either 2 or 3! In the aftermath, those charged with the disposal of the slain came across the bodies of the English leaders, Evers and Latoun. Beside these lay the slayer of Latoun identifiable by a conspicuous white plume and hanks of golden hair. Initially unrecognisable due to horrific injuries the searchers were surprised to see that it was .....a fair and handsome woman ..... the Maiden Lilliard.....
Her involvement, it is believed, was either premeditated as an act of revenge for the extinction of her family during an earlier battle, or impulsive, the result of seeing her lover cut down by Evers in the current affray.
Whatever the reasons she received an individual burial, a memorial being subsequently erected over her body giving details of her bravery. The first official report of her grave appeared in 1743. This noted that the memorial was broken and the inscription illegible. The author, the Rev Adams Milne, managed however to obtain a copy of the wording from aged locals who professed to remember it accurately from their youth. The verse then, as now, read ....
Fair Maiden Lilliard
Lies under this stane
Little was her stature
But muckle was her fame
Upon the English loons
She laid monie thumps
An' when her legs were cuttid off
She fought upon her stumps
The existence of the place name 'Lilliard's Edge' prior to the battle is seen by sceptics as evidence to deny the whole story. It is historically known though that heroes and heroines have assumed the identity of a place associated with their deeds. Joan of Arc is a shining example as she is often referred to as the Maid of Orleans.
The grave lies on Lilliard's Edge east of the A68, some 3km north of Ancrum in the Border region.