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Battle of Halidon Hill

Battle of Halidon Hill (July 19, 1333) was the last of the Wars of Scottish Independence, ending that forty year struggle. Scottish forces under Sir Archibald Douglas were heavily defeated on unfavourable terrain while trying to relieve Berwick-upon-Tweed.

Battle of Halidon Hill
Dates of battleJuly 19 1333
ConflictWars of Scottish Independence
Battle beforeDupplin Moor
Battle afternone
Site of battleHalidon Hill,
near Berwick
Combatant 1Scotland
led by Sir Archibald Douglas
Forcesabout 13,000 men
Combatant 2England
led byEdward III of England
Forces9,000 men
resultdecisive English victory


Edward Balliol had crowned himself King of Scotland in 1332, but supporters of David II soon forced him out. After losing at Arran he is reported to have fled across the border almost naked.

Balliol returned in the spring of 1333 with an English army. He had appealed to Edward III and the young King agreed to support him, deciding that the cross-border skirmishing had broken the Treaty of Northampton, and accompanied the force northwards. The army reached Durham by April 1 and laid siege to Berwick on April 12. After a two month siege, as was not uncommon, the forces in Berwick eventually agreed to surrender on July 20 unless relieved. Sir Alexander Sutton (or Seton) gave his two son to Edward as part of the agreement, they were later hanged.

After an abortive attempt to take Queen Philippa from Bamburgh Castle, Sir Archibald Douglas, the guardian of David II and Earl of Mar, approached from Northumberland and crossed the Tweed to relieve Berwick with around 13,000 men. An English force of around 10,000 was arrayed on Halidon Hill to meet them.

The battle

The battle lasted throughout July 19 but was almost entirely a slaughter of the Scottish forces. In a reverse of the terrain at Bannockburn the Scots had to apporach through boggy ground and then climb up the hill to the waiting English, they were easy targets for archers. Attacking en masse over 500 Scottish nobles were killed including Douglas and more than 4,000 soldiers, more were killed as the English cavalry finally charged and chased the routed Scottish troops from the battelfield. English casualties were around fifteen.

The siege of Berwick was then renewed and the town surrendered soon afterwards.

History -- Military history -- List of battles -- History of Scotland