skip to Main Content

Battle of Dryfe Sands

The Battle Of Dryfe Sands

The Battle of Dryfe Sands, 1593, Lockerbie, Dumfriesshire

The Battle of Dryfe Sands, fought on 6 December 1593, was the culmination of the famous and long standing deadly feud between the Maxwells and the Johnstones. In late 1593 the feud flared up into open warfare and Lord Maxwell raised a strong force and set out to settle with Johnstone once and for all.

The Johnstones were outlawed after the battle but that was not the end of the feud, which lingered on until 1608 when the then Lord Maxwell met James Johnstone to effect a reconciliation. Maxwell shot Johnstone twice in the back, finally ending the feud, for he himself was eventually arrested and executed.

In 1593 Maxwell set out from Lockerbie to take the Johnstone stronghold of Lochwood. However the crafty Johnstone with a far smaller force of riders ambushed Maxwell’s advance guard. Maxwell’s guard turned and fled headlong into the main body of Maxwell’s force who were in the process of crossing Dryfe Sands near Lockerbie. There was great confusion with some of the Maxwell force advancing and some fleeing.

Johnstone and his men were in hot pursuit and continued the battle. The fighting surged into the streets of Lockerbie and Maxwell’s disordered men were trapped by the desperate Johnstone riders who cut them down without mercy.

Thereafter the backhanded downward sword-cut from the saddle was known as “the Lockerbie lick”.

Maxwell himself was unhorsed and held a hand up in surrender; it was cut off derisively by a Johnstone rider and Maxwell perished under a flurry of blows.

Location: Dumfriesshire, Annandale, Lockerbie, Dryfe Sands.
OS sheet: 78 NYGR: 118831
Filename: Lochwood Tower Barmkin PA Record ID: D1033

Back To Top