Just to the north of the beautiful Northumbrian town of Alnwick, with its mighty castle, sits Malcolm’s Cross. This cross marks the spot where one of Scotland’s kings was killed in battle. The cross is located on the northern extremity of the Dear Park to the north of the castle.
Malcolm Canmore or Malcolm III King of Scots. Malcolm gained the throne after a bloody feud with King Macbeth of Shakespeare fame in 1058.
Malcolm was intent on expanding Scotland’s frontier and was involved in five significant invasions into Northumberland. One of these resulted in a counterattack by the English king William the Conqueror. As Williams’s troops marched northwards Malcolm, who knew his forces were not strong enough to take on William’s Norman Knights, avoided battle. At Abernethy, Malcolm Canmore and William met and at this meeting Malcolm paid homage to William. This act of a King of Scotland being involved in the act of reverence to a king of England was to have a significant impact on Scotland as the idea that the English kings were somehow overlords of the Scottish monarch led to years of war between the two nations. Edward I made all the claimants for the vacant Scottish crown acknowledge him as high king of Scotland in 1292.
In November 1093 Malcolm invaded the north of England once more, it is thought this was in retaliation to the English building Carlisle Castle. The Earl of Northumbria ambushed the Scottish force just north of Alnwick Castle. In the ensuing battle, the King of Scots was mortally wounded, legend has it that he was taken to a spring nearby and there he died. The spring was later to be known as Malcolm’s Well, and St Leonards Hospital was built there in the late 12th century.
There are no signs on the main road to indicate the existence of this vital part of Scotland’s story. The whole area is completely overgrown. Bramble bushes, high nettles and sticky willow reigned supreme on the site. A lesser man may not have made the fight through the overgrowth to the cross. The cross itself was damaged at the foot of the plinth. The whole area around it just seemed to be entirely neglected and forgotten.
I do feel that if this commemorated the site of an English kings death it would be properly marked from the road and looked after, and if it marked an English kings death in Scotland it would be maintained as a matter of respect.