Camus (folklore)

Camus, in historic literature, was a Scandinavian general dispatched to engage the Scots in battle, reportedly in the early eleventh century AD.[1] The legendary engagement was called the Battle of Barry, and was first alluded to by Boece.[2]

The historical nature of Camus and the Battle of Barry was called into doubt in the early nineteenth century. Evidence formerly cited for the battle included the large number of human remains found on Barry Links, where the town of Carnoustie, Angus now stands, now reinterpreted as a Pictish cemetery of earlier date.[3][4] The remains of a fort near Kirkbuddo, formerly known as 'Norway Dykes', from where the Danish army are supposed to have marched is now recognised to be of Roman origin.[5]

Boece attributed Pictish sculptured stones found throughout Angus and the surrounding area to the Danish invasions. The battle depicted on the reverse of the Aberlemno kirkyard stone was cited by tradition as a depiction of the Battle of Barry.[6] Current thought dates this stone from the mid-8th century and it is now commonly thought to depict the Battle of Dun Nechtain in 685 AD. The Camus Cross near Monikie, 2 miles north of the supposed battle site and formerly thought to be the site of Camus' death, is now thought to be of earlier, Pictish origin.[7]

The name 'Camus' derives from 'Camuston', the location of the Camus Cross. Local tradition claims the hill to have been named in honour of Camus, but it is found in early documents as 'Cambeston' and is thought to have a Celtic rather than Scandinavian derivation.[8]

See alsoEdit

Line notesEdit

  1. ^ John Carrie. 1881
  2. ^ Hector Boece. 1527
  3. ^ Dickson, R. (1878) Notice of the discovery of stone coffins at Carnoustie, Forfarshire Archived June 11, 2007, at the Wayback Machine, Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland 12, 611-615,; retrieved 2 September 2008. Dickson reports three long cist burials disinterred in 1878. The burials were aligned with feet pointing to the east, signifying Christian burial and, despite Gordon's (1726) assertions about size, gives a femur size of 18" (46 cm), suggesting a height of 5'6" (1.67 m) for the largest skeleton. Dickson also refers to 30 cists unearthed in 1810 during the construction of what is now the Erskine United Free Church. He also points out the lack of weapons, casting doubt on Boece's account of the Battle of Barry.
  4. ^ Coutts, H. (1971) Two long cists at the High Street, Carnoustie, Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland 103, 233-235,; retrieved 2 September. Coutts reports two long cist burials found by workmen during excavations in the 1960s. The burials were again in an approximately East-West orientation, with feet facing East. One was of a male aged approximately 25-30 with a height of 5'4" (163.9 cm), the other of a female aged between 40 and 50 with a height of 5'4" (162.8 cm). The female had advanced osteoarthritis possibly died of tuberculosis.
  5. ^ Historic Environment Scotland. "Kirkbuddo Roman Camp (33608)". Canmore.
  6. ^ Johnston, W.A. (1881). Angus or Forfarshire, the land and people, descriptive and historical. Volume 2. Dundee: Alexander.
  7. ^ Walker, B. and Ritchie, G. (1996) Exploring Scotland's Heritage: Fife, Perthshire and Angus. 2nd Edition. HMSO, Edinburgh.
  8. ^ Worsaae, J.J.A. (1852). An account of the Danes and Norwegians in England, Scotland and Ireland. London: John Murray. p. 210. camus battle of barry.


  • Hector Boece. 1527. Historia Gentis Scotorum (History of the Scottish People)
  • John Carrie. 1881. Ancient Things in Angus: A Series of Articles on Ancient Things, Manners, and Customs, in Forfarshire, published by Thomas Buncle, 156 pages