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Tours > Northumberland Battlefields > Otterburn

David Ford, History Editor
The Battle of Otterburn
19th August 1388
1-1/2 miles west of Otterburn on the A696

by David Nash Ford BA, Editor, History on Britannia

Percy's Cross, Otterburn This 14th century scene of so much carnage is best known from the works of the ballad writers, though it was of no military or political significance. Having been on a highly successful foray into Northumberland and Durham, ravaging the countryside with an army of 4,000 and challenging Harry 'Hotspur' Percy at the very gates of Newcastle, the Scottish Earl of Douglas, withdrew his men to an old hillfort outside Otterburn in the Cheviots. Hotspur followed him with an army twice the size but, foolishly decided to attack the enemy at night, immediately upon arrival. Stumbling around in the dark, the English rained down on the Scots camp followers by mistake; thus allowing the main Scottish force to attack their flanks. Douglas was killed but the English were routed, 3,000 of their men killed and Percy captured.

Today there is a small car park with display boards to explain the battle's progress and nearby sits Percy's Cross amongst the trees. This rather simple obelisk replaced the previous 'Battle Stone' in 1777. It was made from an old fireplace and erected by a local farmer who didn't want the Duke of Northumberland to do the same and therefore have some sort of claim on his land.

Next Stop: The Battle of Hedgeley Moor

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