The battles are in chronological order.
The Battle of Largs
By early-thirteenth century, the Scottish monarchy had given up unrealistic aspirations of extending their southern border and had started to focus on the western seaboard. Since 1098, when King Edgar of Scotland had given up Scottish claims on the area, the Inner and Outer Hebrides along with most of modern day Argyll and Bute, had been predominately under Norwegian control. Alexander II launched campaigns in 1221 and 1249 both aimed at expanding his influence in the Inner Hebrides but died during the latter of these leaving his seven year old son, Alexander III, as King. Years of relatively weak minority rule followed with no further attempt to wrest overlordship from Norway. However, after achieving his majority, Alexander III resumed his father’s work. In 1261 he sent an embassy to the court of King Haakon IV in an attempt to purchase the Outer Hebrides but his offer was rejected and his ambassadors arrested. In 1262 he tried a more forceful approach and dispatched William, Earl of Ross to capture Skye prompting the Norwegian King to raise a large force in preparation for an invasion to reassert Norwegian control
King Haakon IV sailed from Bergan in July 1263 with a force of between 120-200 ships. He advanced via Orkney and the Outer Hebrides to gather more forces from his liegemen there and then attacked the Inner Hebrides. Most local lords resumed their complaisance towards the Norwegian King with just one, Ewen MacDougall, resisting the large force. He then sailed around Kintyre and into the Clyde where the Scots attempted a negotiated settlement. But this was a ruse designed to give them time and at Ayr, some 20 miles east of Arran, an army was being assembled to engage the Norwegians as soon as they came ashore.
With the negotiations ended, the Norwegians sailed through the Cumbrae gap into the Upper Clyde where Haakon divided his forces sending a large element to attack Lennox (Dunbartonshire) on the River Clyde. The remainder of the force attacked Bute where Rothesay Castle surrendered without a fight. The Norsemen then captured Great Cumbrae island to use as a base for further attacks. However on the night of 30 September/1 October, whilst their forces were beached on this island, stormy weather dominated by a strong westerly wind blew a number of the Norse ships from their berths onto the hostile Scottish mainland just south of Largs. Abandoning these boats, essential for mobility of the army and sustaining operations, was inconceivable and a small forces was landed to repair and recover them. Meanwhile the Scottish army, some 25 miles south at Ayr, began advancing towards Largs.
The total number of Norwegian forces available to King Haakon on 1/2 October is unknown. The size of his fleet is generally believed to have numbered in the region of 120 to 200 ships which, on a conservative analysis of crew numbers, would put his force around 6,000-10,000 strong. However his dispatch of a significant portion of his men to attack Lennox would have significantly reduced his overall numbers. Furthermore it is not clear whether he left any soldiers at Bute or on Great Cumbrae. It is therefore entirely conceivable that the numbers he deployed at the Battle of Largs was fewer than 1,000 men.
The Scottish force is believed to have been under the command of Alexander Stewart whose father, Walter, was the King's hereditary steward. Contemporary accounts record a cavalry force of 1,500 heavy (armoured) cavalry although this is almost certainly vastly exaggerated - it could well have been less than 100. Regardless, they were supported by a significant infantry element recruited from Ayrshire and the locality.
Like the overall numbers present, details of the action at Largs are sketchy at best with conflicting accounts. Deriving a narrative for the battle is also frustrated in that the precise location is debated although it is widely believed to have taken place south of the Gogo Water.
The repair crews for the stricken Norse ships came under attack from Scottish forces. The size and extent of these strikes is unknown although the contemporary accounts record use of projectile attacks - perhaps archers or slingers. The attacks were significant enough for the Norse crews to abandon their work and defend themselves seemingly suffering some casualties during this action.
King Haakon detaches a significant force from his army on Great Cumbrae who land on the mainland to protect the teams repairing the ships. As they land the Scots disengaged and a detachment of Norsemen, around 200 men strong under Ogmund “Crows’ Dance”, took control of a hillock overlooking the beach to prevent any attacks. No further action was recorded that day and the Norwegian forces camped ashore overnight.
Scottish Forces Arrive
On the morning of 2 October 1263, King Haakon came ashore himself to oversee the salvage effort perhaps frustrated by the lack of progress. However, the main Scottish force was now in the immediate vicinity advancing from the south. Their vanguard slewed right to engage the Norsemen on the hillock.
It is not clear who was getting the best of the fighting on the hillock but it seems the main Scottish force might have attempted to push on towards the beach. Certainly the Norsemen on the hill increasingly became concerned they were being cut-off from their ships and started drawing back towards the sea. The withdrawal was orderly at first but became increasingly urgent.
The retreat of Ogmund's men from the hillock unsettled the main Norse army on the beach. Seeing their troops rush down from the hillock they assumed they had been routed and order began to break down. The Norwegians seem to have suffered heavy casualties at this stage as the Scots launched heavy cavalry charges across the beach. The Norsemen fled to their ships.
Accounts of how the battle ended vary. Some authors suggest the Scots pursued and slaughtered the Vikings in great numbers. Others that the Norsemen fought a fierce battle at the beachhead, retained their foothold overnight and, on the morning of 3 October 1263, re-floated their ships and departed. Either way, it was the Norwegians who left and the Scots who retained the field.
On paper the Battle of Largs resulted in a stalemate with neither of the two armies achieving its primary aim. However, within a few months of the battle, it became clear that a significant Scottish victory had been achieved. After the battle King Haakon IV had withdrawn his fleet from the Clyde and returned towards Norway but, given the weather at that time of year, his progress was slow and in December 1263 he died at Kirkwall, Orkney. His successor, Magnus IV, was in no place to launch expeditions against Scotland and abandoned his claim on most of the Scottish islands in exchange for a substantial payment which was ratified in the Treaty of Perth (1266). Along with punitive expeditions against the local lords who had sided with Haakon, this brought most of the Outer Hebrides and the Isle of Mann under the authority of the Scottish Crown although it would be many years before effective Royal control was exercised in all these areas. In the interim period the so-called Lordship of the Isles developed under Clan MacDonald.
Pencil Point monument dedicated to the Battle of Largs
The start of the fighting.
Norwegians suffered heavy casualties
Scottish Forces Arrive
The Second Barons war was about the power of the English King and the way he exercised it. This issue had troubled England throughout the 13th century. It had been taken for granted that government was the business of the king, helped by various officials. It was also accepted that he should rule justly and with the support of his barons. However, there was no clear idea what should be done if he failed to do so and mis-used his authority.
One solution had been tried in 1215 during the first Barons war. The barons rebelled against King John and forced him to accept the Magna Carta. This “Great Charter” was a long list of things King John promised not to do in the future. The charter did not work. Both John and his son, Henry III, broke their promises whenever they could. Complaining groups had to work out a better way to make the king keep his word.
The opportunity arose in 1258. Henry called a parliament, which criticised his policies and drew up new rules for the king to follow. They were known as the Provisions of Oxford (where the parliament met). A permanent council was set up to supervise the appointment and actions of the royal officers. Simon de Montfort was a leading member of the group.
During the next five years, amid shifting political alliances, two things remained constant: de Montfort always wanted to restrict the king’s freedom to govern as he wished and Henry sought to evade such control. In 1264, the two sides were evenly matched and quarrels flared into civil war.
The Battle of Lewes
4th May 1264
The Battle of Lewes was fought on 14th May 1264, between the forces of a number of rebel Barons led by Simon de Montfort, Earl of Leicester, and the army of King Henry III, on the downs to the north-west of the town of Lewes.
De Montfort’s army had marched from their camp at Fletching to take up position on Offam Hill, whilst Henry had left the relative safety of Lewes Castle to engage the Barons in battle.
Henry’s forces initially enjoyed some limited success when his son, Prince Edward (later King Edward I) routed part of the Baronial army with a cavalry charge. In doing so however, he may have also cost the day, as in the pursuit of his quarry he not only left the battlefield, but Henry’s flank exposed.
The royal infantry suffered significant casualties as the only option now left to them was to attack the Baronial army on top of the hill.
The overwhelmed Royalists were forced into a fighting retreat all the way back to Lewes Castle. King Henry and Prince Edward were held by de Montfort who governed in their name, the “uncrowned King of England”.
Edward eventually escaped; and after raising yet another army, would meet de Montfort again at the Battle of Evesham to settle the issue once and for all.
date: 14th May, 1264
War: Second Barons’ War
Location: Lewes, Sussex
Belligerents: Royalists, Barons
Numbers: Royalists around 10,000, Barons around 5,000
Commanders: King Henry III (Royalists), Simon de Montfort (Barons)
Henry’s army was soundly beaten at Lewes. The king himself was captured and Prince Edward also became a hostage.
De Montfort and his allies now ruled England in the name of the captive king. They tried hard to arrive at a lasting settlement and called parliaments in June 1264 and January 1265, but both failed. The parliament of 1265 included a new element: representatives of several towns were summoned to attend along with lords, bishops, abbots and knights of the shires.
At this point de Montfort's support began to crumble. The towns and the Church stayed with him, but his fellow barons began to desert him. The Marcher lords from the Welsh border had been hostile since before Lewes; de Montfort’s sons gave offence to older lords; the new young Earl of Gloucester, Gilbert de Clare felt slighted and a royalist force with French backing landed in Pembroke.
Battle of Evesham
4th August 1265
The battle of Evesham was fought on the morning of the 4th August 1265. The army of Simon de Montfort had probably not long entered Evesham when, from lookouts on the tower of the Abbey, news came of the approach of the royal army under Prince Edward. Taking the captive king Henry III with him, and despite being outnumbered more than three to one, de Montfort rode out with his cavalry, with his infantry in support, to engage the enemy.
Fighting through the streets
Less than a mile to the north of the town, somewhere on the summit of Greenhill, de Montfort found the royal forces deployed in three divisions. He appears to have made a bold cavalry attack, perhaps in the hope of breaking through. At first some of the royal forces retreated, but then there was a counter attack and de Montfort’s army, or at least his knights, were soon encircled. Unusually for a medieval battle, no quarter was to be given and de Montfort and most of his main supporters were cut down. It appears likely that the infantry had already broken and begun to flee, but if not then they were soon routed. The rebel forces were pursed mercilessly back into the town, the killing continuing right through the streets and even in the abbey itself. Though peace was not finally restored across the country for another two years, the battle of Evesham had completely broken the rebellion, for almost all of its major supporters had been intentionally killed on the field.
The battle site
Evesham is one of the few early battles for which a genuinely new primary source has been recently identified, one that has transformed our understanding of the event. This is now a battle where the broad character and location of the action is clearly understood and where the location of the action is fairly tightly constrained by the physical topography. Though there has been 20th century development in the area, a substantial part of the battlefield still remains undeveloped. This makes Evesham one of the few early medieval battles where a visit to the battlefield can be very clearly focussed and a relatively secure outline of the battle provided. For the same reason it is one where there appears a high potential for detailed reconstruction of the historic terrain and investigation of the battle archaeology. Although parts of the battlefield are accessible, a new scheme is being developed which should greatly improve that access and provide the first on site interpretation.
Name: Battle of Evesham
War period: Medieval (Barons’ Revolt)
Outcome: Royal victory; death of Simon de Montfort
Terrain: possibly common pasture and/or open field
Date: 4th August 1265
Start: possibly about 8:30am
Duration: probably fairly short
Armies: Royal army under Prince Edward (later king Edward I); rebels under Simon de Montfort, Earl of Leicester
Numbers: Rebel: cavalry: uncertain; infantry c. 6000; Royal: uncertain but outnumbering rebels at least 3:1..
Losses: Royal: few; Rebel: heavy, but the documented 7500-10,000 is improbable
The Trebuchant. widely used at this time to break castle walls and end sieges.
Site of the battle south of Worcester.
First War of Scottish Independence
A list of battles
Berwick, Dunbar, Lanark, Stirling Bridge, Falkirk, Roslin, Happrew, Stirling Castle, Methven, Dalrigh, Turnberry, Loch Ryan, Glen Trool,Loudoun Hill, Slioch, Inverurie, Buchan, Pass of Brander, Bannockburn, Moiry Pass, Connor, Kells, Skerries, Skaithmuir, Berwick, Faughart, Myton, Arbroath Declaration, The Great Raid of 1322, Old Byland, Corbeil Treaty, Stanhope Park, Edinburgh-Northampton Treaty.
Battle of Methven
19th June 1306
Although implicated in the murder of his cousin John Comyn at the Church of the Greyfriars in Dumfries, Robert the Bruce was nevertheless inaugurated as King of Scots in the following month at Scone. So far as Edward I of England was concerned, this was an outrage, and he appointed Aymer de Valence, Comyn's brother-in-law, to give no quarter to Bruce or his followers. Valence and the Comyn faction therefore based themselves in Perth. Bruce's soldiers were quartered nearby at Methven, but were surprised during the night and were all but destroyed. Bruce escaped, but after this he abandoned knightly chivalry and resorted to Wallace's more ruthless guerilla tactics.
Battle of Glen Trool
This was a minor skirmish, but nevertheless a victory for the Scots. King Robert had been a fugitive for several months, but in the spring of 1307 re-appeared in Galloway with a force of Highlanders. After a raid on an English encampment on Clatteringshaws Loch, Aymer de Valence was advised that Bruce was to be found at the head of Glen Trool in today’s Galloway Forest Park. He sent his cavalry commander John Mowbray off to capture him, but Mowbray's men were ambushed and driven back and Bruce and his men disappeared into the surrounding countryside.
Battle of Loudon Hill
10th May 1307
Having rallied his supporters, King Robert was back in business again and came up against his old adversary Aymer de Valence, now Earl of Pembroke, ten miles north of Kilmarnock in Ayrshire. This time the English soldiers were obliged to approach their enemy over bogland, and rapidly fell victim to the spears of Bruce's men. Over one hundred were killed before the remainder rapidly dispersed.
Battle of Inverurie
22nd May 1308
King Robert was taken ill on his march north towards Aberdeenshire after his victory at Loudon Hill, but the spring of 1308 nevertheless found him and his army camped at Meldrum, close to Inverurie. John Comyn, 3rd Earl of Buchan, was a cousin of the murdered John Comyn, Lord of Buchan, and determined to bring the King to justice. However, he proved indecisive. Many of his followers had been assured that the King was too ill to fight and when King Robert appeared before them, Buchan's men turned and fled. Buchan himself escaped to England where he died the same year.
Battle of the Pass of Brander
This was a conflict between King Robert I and the Macdougalls of Argyll, kinsmen of the murdered John Comyn. There is variance as to exactly where (Brander or Ben Cruachan) and when the incident took place, but it is generally understood that the Macdougalls were caught in a vice between King Robert and Sir James Douglas and put to flight.
The Battle of Bannockburn
June 24, 1314
English King Edward II, along with approximately 20,000 troops, advanced through the Lowlands of Scotland with relative ease. Arriving at Edinburgh on June 17, 1314, the army progressed to Leith, where they stopped for five days to collect supplies. The next step for the invading army was a 22-mile forced march to Falkirk. On Saturday June 23rd they progressed along the old Roman road from Falkirk, advancing on Stirling Castle, which they meant to relieve.
Scottish King Robert the Bruce strategically blocked Edward's path, planting his men in the dense wood battle formation day 1s standard in the Borestone there. This meant that he had an impassable scrub on his right, the stream-riddled and boggy Carse on his left, Stirling Castle behind him and the Bannock Burn, which Edward would have to cross, before him.
Among Bruce's army is said to have been a contingent of men from the "youthful" Clan Cameron, perhaps being led by John de Cameron, the supposed VII Chief and Captain of Clan Cameron. It should be noted that this collection of West Highlanders would probably not have been referred to as "Clan Cameron" at this early period. As to the Cameron men's numbers, it is thought that they made up only a very slight portion of Bruce's 5,500 trained men. In addition to being outnumbered approximately four-to-one, the Scots brought just 500 light cavalry to the field, in comparison to Edward's 2,000 heavy cavalry. Edward also brought 17,000 archers and spear-wielding foot soldiers, in comparison to the "few" archers which the Scots army had recruited from the Ettrick Forest.
A reserve division
As the battle began that June 24th Edward II foolishly advanced his cavalry across the Bannock Burn, taking up a position on the Carse between the Pelstream Burn and the Bannock Burn, falling into Bruce's trap by confining his mobile force into an impossibly narrow area. Robert the Bruce's brother Edward, commanding the men of Galloway, Aberdeen and the south-east Highlands, met the English frontal assault. Edward Bruce's schiltrons repulsed the English cavalry, killing their commander. When the English archers opened their massive assault upon the Scottish army's left flank, Bruce immediately brought his cavalry into action, driving the celebrated bowmen from the field. Then, at this key moment of battle, Bruce brought in his reserve division so explosively that the rapidly retreating English army became unavoidable targets for their own back line of archers.
Edward II decided at this point that he had seen enough, rushing to the relative safety of Stirling Castle. However, Sir Phillip Mowbray, governor of the castle, refused to admit him entry. Consequently, Edward II fled towards Dunbar. Knowing that their king had deserted them left the English army with little fighting spirit. Suddenly, from behind Coxet Hill, there appeared the "small folk," kept in reserve for this purpose. To the battle-weary eyes of the English, this looked like a wild attack by fresh Scottish troops. The English right flank tried to follow their King from the field, their center headed for the waters of the Forth, and their left fell back like "human debris" into the Bannock Burn.
Not only were the English totally defeated in pitched battle, but Bruce grabbed valuable hostages and Edward II's mighty train of equipment, all £200,000 of it, was left to the Scots. Although it would be an additional fourteen years until the war with England was officially over, there was no doubt that Robert the Bruce and his men had won its most decisive battle.
Illustration of the Battle
Illustration of the Battle
Early depiction of the battle
Battle of Old Byland
4th October 1322
Scorched earth policy
After their great victory at Bannockburn, the Scots regularly raided into England without resistance. Taking advantage of the prospect of a civil war in England, King Robert encouraged his commanders Sir James Douglas, Thomas Randolph, 1st Earl of Moray and Walter Stewart to mount a foray into the North East while King Edward II was preoccupied with bringing his rebel barons to heel.
At first, the Scots incursion was largely ignored but when Edward had finally suppressed his close-at-hand opponents at the Battle of Boroughbridge, he determined to retaliate on Scotland and invaded.
King Robert immediately adopted a scorched earth policy, retreating north across the Firth of Forth. Edward, his troops ravished by hunger, succeeded in reaching Edinburgh and destroyed Holyrood Abbey. Bruce crossed the Solway in the west, making his way in a south-easterly direction towards Yorkshire, bringing many troops recruited in Argyll and the Isles. The boldness and speed of the attack with The Great Raid of 1322, soon exposed Edward to the dangers on his own land.
On his return from Scotland, the king had taken up residence at Rievaulx Abbey with Queen Isabella. His peace was interrupted when the Scots made a sudden and unexpected approach in mid-October. All that stood between them and a royal prize was a large English force under the command of John of Brittany, Earl of Richmond. John had taken up position on Scawton Moor, between Rievaulx and Byland Abbey. To dislodge him from his strong position on the high ground Bruce used the same tactics that brought victory at the earlier Battle of Pass of Brander. As Moray and Douglas charged uphill a party of Highlanders scaled the cliffs on the English flank and charged downhill into Richmond's rear.
Resistance crumbled and the Battle of Old Byland turned into a rout. Richmond himself was taken prisoner, as were Henry de Sully, Grand Butler of France, Sir Ralph Cobham-'the best knight in England'-and Sir Thomas Ughtred. Many others were killed in flight. Edward-'ever chicken hearted and luckless in war'-was forced to make a rapid and undignified exit from Rievaulx, fleeing in such haste that his personal belongings were left behind.
Battle Lines at Sutton Bank
view from Sutton Bank
The Second War of Scottish Independence.
1332 – 3rd October 1357 The Second War of Scottish Independence began with the invasion of Edward Balliol, son of the exiled King John, and a party of the “Disinherited”, whose lands had been confiscated after King Robert I's victory at Bannockburn. The hostilities officially ended twenty five years later with the signing of the Treaty of Berwick in 1357.
Battle of Duppin Moor
10th August 1332
In 1329 Robert the Bruce died and was succeeded by his young son. Now was the opportunity for the dispossessed and for Edward Balliol, who claimed the crown of Scotland by the right of his father King John Balliol, who had reigned in Scotland until 1296. They gained the tacit support of Edward III of England for a ‘private’ invasion of Scotland. Henry Beaumont was the driving force behind the campaign, together with various other lords who had lost their Scottish astates as a result of Bruce's victory in the War of Independence. In 1332 Balliol’s army sailed for Scotland with an expeditionary force comprising largely English troops and some mercenaries.
After a skirmish at Kinghorn, where they landed, the dispossessed soon marched for Perth, to engage the smaller of two armies that were being mustered against them. A few miles to the south west of the town, on Dupplin Moor, a heavily outnumbered, mainly English force, destroyed a far larger Scottish army, using tactics that would make English armies a dominant force in Europe for the next hundred years. Dupplin was the battle which first demonstrated the legendary battle winning power of the English longbow.
The Trebuchant. widely used at this time to break castle walls and end sieges.
Battle of Halidon Hill
10th July 1333
Stage 1 battle formation
Stage 2 battle formation
The Battle site
Edward Balliol, son of the former King John, continued to press his claim to the Scottish throne. With English support he successfully defeated a Royalist force under the Earl of Mar, Regent to the boy King and one of the casualties of the battle, at Dupplin Moor in 1332. Balliol was crowned King by his supporters. But his reign was short-lived, less than three months, before he was forced to make an ignominious flight ‘one leg booted and the other naked’ back to England.
Breaking the Treaty
But Balliol had not relinquished his ambitions for the Scottish throne, and in 1333 with promises of land, should he succeed, he persuaded Edward III to take a direct involvement in his cause. This broke the agreements of the 1328 Treaty, an agreement that Edward dismissed as not binding as it had been made in his minority. Edward now openly supported Balliol and in the spring of 1333 headed north to lay siege to Berwick, the Scottish-held town that was the prize concession promised by Balliol.
A Scottish force under the Regent Sir Archibald Douglas attempted, and failed, to draw Edward away from Berwick. With the town now surrounded the defenders sued for a truce. The terms eventually agreed were that Edward would accept the town relieved only if: a Scottish force relieved the town, but only by crossing the Tweed from the north; a group of 200 men-at-arms entered the town, from any direction, but with the loss of no more than 30 of their number; the relievers fought and won a pitched battle against the besiegers. The truce was to hold until sunrise of 20th July. If none of the three terms were met Berwick would surrender to Edward. On hearing of this agreement Douglas hurried to the relief of the town. Arriving on the 19th July Douglas approached from the north. On leading his troops to the summit of the hill called Witches Knowe he saw the English army drawn up before him to the south on the slopes of Halidon Hill. Following the English victory at Halidon Hill the town of Berwick and the lands of the Borders and Lothian were ceded to England by Balliol. This ensured that warfare between the two countries would continue as the Scots fought to regain their lands. For Edward III his first battle was an important lesson in tactics, a lesson his was to employ to great effect against the French at Crécy and Poitiers.
The battlefield area is now fully enclosed but remains agricultural with only a few scattered farms. The marshy ground between the two hills has been drained. Access is possible along Grand Loaning lane which runs across the centre of the battlefield and via a circular conservation walk which goes around Halidon Hill taking in the English positions.
Name: Battle of Halidon Hill
War period: Medieval
Outcome: Englsih victory
Country: England / Scotland
County: Northumberland / Scottish Borders
Place: Berwick upon Tweed / Mordington
Terrain: open ?upland pasture, marsh
Date: 10th July 1333
Duration: several hours
Armies: English under King Edward III; Scottish under Sir Archibald Douglas
Numbers: English: circa 8,000; Scottish: circa 15,000
Losses: English:few; Scottish: heavy
Battle of Neville's Cross
17th October 1346
The battle of Neville’s Cross, between Scottish and English forces, took place on 17th October 1346, on moorland just to the west of Durham. The two armies clashed on the narrow ridge close to Neville's Cross. The English had already chosen the best ground before the Scots could assemble their army and so the invaders found themselves severely disadvantaged by the terrain. Despite the battle being evenly balanced for a time, the Scots were out manoeuvred and gradually fled the field, all but abandoning their King.
The battle of Neville’s Cross was disastrous for the Scots. Not only was their King captured and imprisoned and many men lost, but the following year the English pursued their advantage and were able to occupy almost the whole of Scotland south of the Forth and the Clyde.
The Area today
The battlefield is extensively developed on the eastern side, though the area around Crossgate Moor , on which some of the action may have taken place, is still undeveloped. The land on the west remains largely agricultural. A railway line dissects the southern half of the battlefield running east to west in a cutting 30m deep and 80m wide. Access is possible by car and on foot and there are sufficient public footpaths to enable much of the battlefield to be walked, a waymarked battlefield trail having been laid out with interpretation panels and a published leaflet. The remains of the Cross is situated within the urban area.
Name: Battle of Neville’s Cross
Campaign: Neville’s Cross Campaign
War period: Medieval (Hundred Years War)
Outcome: major English victory
Place: Crossgate / Bear Park
Terrain: upland moor
Date: 17th October 1346
Start: either 9:00am or 12:00
Duration: several hours
Armies: Scottish; English
Numbers: Scottish: about 10-15,000; English: about 700 men at arms & 10,000 archers and other troops
Losses: Scottish: about 1000 killed and many captured; English: probably few.
All that remains of Neville’s Cross
The Battle of Poitiers
19th September 1356.
Edward arrayed his army in a defensive posture among the hedges and orchards of the area, in front of the forest of Nouallie. He deployed his front line of longbowmen behind a particularly prominent thick hedge, through which the road ran at right angles. The Earl of Douglas, commanding the Scottish division in the French army, advised King John that the attack should be delivered on foot, with horses being particularly vulnerable to English arrows. John heeded this advice, leaving its baggage behind and forming up on foot in front of the English.
The English army was an experienced force; many archers were veterans of the earlier Battle of Crécy, and two of the key commanders, Sir John Chandos, and Captal de Buch were both experienced soldiers. The English army's divisions were led by Edward, the Black Prince, the Earl of Warwick, the Earl of Salisbury, Sir John Chandos and Captal de Buch.
The French army was led by John II of France, and was largely comprised of native French soldiers, though there was a contingent of German knights, and a large force of Scottish soldiers. The latter force was led by the Earl of Douglas and fought in the King's own division.
The French army was arrayed in three "battles" or divisions; the vanguard was led by the Dauphin Charles, the second by the Duke of Orléans, while the third, the largest, was led by the King himself.
Prior to the battle, the local prelate, Cardinal Hélie de Talleyrand-Périgord attempted to broker a truce between the two sides, as recorded in the writings of the English commander, Sir John Chandos. Attending the conference on the French side was John II of France, the Count of Tankerville, the Archbishop of Sens and Jean de Talaru. Representing the English was the Earl of Warwick, the Earl of Suffolk, Bartholomew de Burghersh, James Audley and Sir John Chandos. The English offered to hand over all of the war booty they had taken on their raids throughout France, as well as a seven-year truce. John, who believed his force could easily overwhelm the English, declined their proposal. John's counter suggestion that the Black Prince and his army should surrender was flatly rejected.
Map of the Battle
At the start of the battle, the English removed their baggage train from the field, prompting a hasty French assault, believing that what they saw was the English retreating. The fighting began with a charge by a forlorn hope of 300 German knights, led by Jean de Clermont. The attack was a disaster, with many of the knights shot down or killed by English soldiery. According to Froissart, the English archers then shot their bows at the massed French infantry. The Dauphin's division reached the English line. Exhausted by a long march in heavy equipment and harassed by the hail of arrows, the division was repulsed after approximately two hours of combat.
The retreating vanguard collided with the advancing division of the Duke of Orléans, throwing the French army into chaos. Seeing the Dauphin's troops falling back, Orléans' division fell back in confusion. The third, and strongest, division led by the King advanced forth, and the two withdrawing divisions coalesced and resumed their advance against the English. Believing that the retreat of the first two French divisions marked the withdrawal of the French, Edward had ordered a force under Captal de Buch to pursue. Sir John Chandos urged the Prince to launch this force upon the main body of the French army under the King. Seizing upon this idea, Edward ordered all his men-at-arms and knights to mount for the charge, while de Buch's men, already mounted, were instructed to advance around the French left flank and rear.
Jean II, the Good, being captured.
As the French advanced, the English launched their charge. Stunned by the attack, the impetus carried the English and Gascon forces right into the French line. Simultaneously, de Buch's mobile reserve of mounted troops fell upon the French left flank and rear. Fearful of encirclement, the cohesion of the French army disintegrated as many soldiers attempted to flee the field. Low on arrows, the English and Welsh archers abandoned their bows and ran forward to join the melée. Around this time, King John and his son, Philip the Bold, found themselves surrounded. As written by Froissart, an exiled French knight fighting with the English, Sir Denis Morbeke of Artois approached the king, requesting the King's surrender. The King is said to have replied, "To whom shall I yield me? Where is my cousin the Prince of Wales? If I might see him, I would speak with him". Denis replied; "Sir, he is not here; but yield you to me and I shall bring you to him". The king handed him his right gauntlet, saying; "I yield me to you".
Following the surrender of the King and his son Philip, the French army had broken up and left the field, ending the battle.
Name: The Battle of Poitiers
War period: Hundred Years War
Outcome: English victory
Country: Western France
Terrain: pasture / arable / wooded
Date: 19th September 1356.
Start: early morning
Duration: 2 hours approx.
Armies: English lead by Edward, the Black Prince, French lead by John II of France.
Numbers: English: 2,000 longbowmen, 3,000 men-at-arms and a force of 1,000 Gascon infantry. French: 8,000 men-at-arms and 3,000 common infantry,
Losses: English: 40 French : 3,000
Battle of Homildon Hill
17th September 1402
Following the battle of Otterburn in 1388 the relationship between England and Scotland continued to be fragile and volatile with frequent raids, in both directions, across the border. The Scots were always quick to capitalise on political unrest in England which diverted the attention of the English Crown to other parts of the country. In 1402 such an opportunity occurred. The newly crowned King Henry IV did not have the support of all the powerful English noble families, nor the respect of the Scottish king Robert III who insisted on referring to him as ‘Duke of Lancaster’. In the spring of 1402 a revolt led by Owen Glendower, begun the previous year in Wales, increased in intensity. Henry was forced to turn his attention and resources to Wales. Unsurprisingly the Scots chose this time for a concerted attack into England.
Raid into England
In August 1402 a Scottish army some 10,000 strong under Archibald, Earl Douglas advanced into England looting as they came, reaching as far as Newcastle before turning for home. Although many of the militias mustered in the north had been diverted to Wales, the northern marches were by no means unprotected. The powerful Percy family aided by the defecting Scottish Earl of March, George Dunbar, mustered a force drawn from the Marches, Lincolnshire and Cheshire, and including many nobles.
As the Scots, hampered by booty, made their slow progress to the border the English forces moved to intercept their path on the road leading north-west from Wooler to Millfield and on to the border crossing at Coldstream.
The English victory at the battle of Homildon Hill was a triumph for the English archer. According to the sources other troops took very little part in the action. The capture of several Scottish nobles was also of singular significance; not least because dispute over their fate led to a further breach in the already fragile relationship between the Percy’s and the King. The following year the Percys were in open revolt against the King.
The area today
The area of the battlefield is agricultural with only minor development around isolated farms and hamlets. The plain between Wooler and the River Glen is fully enclosed, as are the lower slopes of both Homildon Hill and Harehope Hill. The upper slopes of the hills remain as upland pasture. There are public footpaths across both hills allowing access to Scottish and English archers position
Name: Battle of Homildon Hill
War period: Medieval
Outcome: English victory
Terrain: open ?meadow / ?pasture
Date: 17th Sepltember 1402
Duration: approxiamtely 1 hour
Armies: English under Earl of Northumberland; Scottish under Earl of Douglas
Numbers: English: ?; Scottish: circa 10,000
Battle of Homildon Hill
Battle of Harlaw
24th July 1411
In origin the battle of Harlaw was a feudal dispute, but it must be viewed in the context of growing late medieval conflict between Highland and Lowland. The situation was also complicated by the fact that King James I was imprisoned in England and thus royal authority was weak. Donald, Lord of the Isles, having fought for control of Ross, now planned to strike south east into Moray, towards Aberdeen. But there was substantial warning of the impending campaign and so defensive preparations were put in hand by the Earl of Mar in the spring and early summer of 1411.
As soon as he was aware of the approach of the Highland forces, Mar marshalled his troops at Inverurie. The Highland forces camped on the night of the 23rd July on high ground near Harlaw. On the morning of the 24th the Earl of Mar marched out of Inverurie to engage the Highland army.
It appears to have been an intense and close run fight but the sources provide little detail and there is even conflict over the outcome, with both sides claiming victory. What is clear is that Aberdeen was successfully defended and the Highland forces departed without causing significant destruction in the region.
Where the battle was faught
Battle of Flodden
9th September 1513
King Henry VIII of England acceded to the throne in 1509 and from the outset was keen to secure England’s position on the Continental stage. To this end he joined an alliance with Spain and Pope Julius II against France in 1511. King James IV of Scotland was married to Henry’s sister but also had an alliance with France. When Henry invaded France in 1513 the French King Louis XII called upon James for assistance. James was persuaded to invade England and so divert troops away from the war on the continent.
Assisted with French arms, ammunition and some troops, James crossed into England in August with an army of up to 60,000 men. His intentions were to draw English forces north and so deplete the troops available for war in France. To this end he confined his activities to capturing the border castles of Etal and Ford, using the latter as his base, and sending raiding parties into the countryside. But Henry had anticipated an invasion from Scotland and had assembled his forces for the continental campaign mainly from the counties of southern England, leaving Thomas Howard, Earl of Surrey in command in the north.
In response to the Scottish invasion, the Earl of Surrey mustered troops from across the northern and midland counties. By early September there was an army of some 26,000 assembled at Alnwick. James's army had now shrunk, by desertion and through troops being detached for garrison duty, to 35-40,000. Surrey now issued a challenge to James, which was eventually accepted, with a battle to take place by the 9th September at the latest.
James keeps his ground
James moved his army to the steep hill of Flodden Edge. When Surrey arrived on 7th September and saw the tactical advantage the Scots had taken he requested James to take a more level ground where each had the same chance. Unsurprisingly James declined to move stating that he would ‘take and keep his ground at his own pleasure’.
In response, on 8th September Surrey marched his army in a wide sweep to the north-east, several miles east of the Scottish position and on the opposite side of the river Till. Now he could advance against the Scots from the north, avoiding the entrenched Scottish artillery which were facing south against the expected direction of English attack, and also stopping the Scottish army retreating across the border without engaging.
Flodden Edge to Branxton Hill
James saw this manoeuvre from his vantage point on Flodden Edge but it was not until the morning of the 9th that he realised Surrey's intent. He then ordering his army to turn about and march a mile to the north from Flodden Edge to Branxton Hill, which formed the northern edge of this area of high ground. As the English, somewhat delayed by the crossing of the Pattins Burn, drew up to the south of Branxton village on a slight rise below Branxton Hill the Scots were already in battle formation and ready to attack. Despite initial Scottish success, the battle of Flodden was to prove a devastating defeat for the Scots. Casualties were very heavy and amongst the 10,000 killed were nine earls, thirteen barons, five heirs to titles, three bishops, two abbots and even the King himself.
The battlefield is now fully enclosed but remains as agricultural land, although there are several modern woodland plantations around the edges of the battlefield. Access is possible via several minor roads and permissive footpaths. A monument to the battle erected in 1910 stands on Piper's Hill and the Remembering Flodden Project has erected a number of information boards across the battlefield.
Name: Battle of Flodden
War period: Medieval
Outcome: English victory
Place: Pressen / Crookham / Heatherslaw & Flodden
Terrain: moor, open upland pasture / arable
Date: 9th September 1513
Duration: several hours
Armies: English under Earl Surrey; Scottish under King James IV
Numbers: English: circa 26,000; Scottish: 35-40,000
Losses: English: circa 4,000; Scottish: circa 10,000
Both sides ready for Battle
News of the Battle