Battle of Otterburn 1388


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Location Description:
Northumberland (Unitary Authority)
National Park:
National Grid Reference:
NY 87850 94006



In 1388 the Scots decided to take advantage of the disunity caused in England by the power struggle between King Richard II and the Lords Appellant by mounting a large scale cross-border raid. James, Earl of Douglas, led a force into Northumberland. As they returned northwards, the Scots paused at Otterburn where, in pursuit of a chivalric challenge to Douglas, Henry Percy ('Hotspur') led an English army into attack.

Arriving near Otterburn at evening, Percy launched a flanking attack with part of his force under the Lords Redmane and Ogyl, hoping to panic the Scots into fleeing straight into the main body of troops under Percy himself. But rather than taking flight, the Scots launched a surprise counter-attack on Percy's men. Fighting continued through the night, and eventually the Scots prevailed, although Douglas himself was killed. On the English side Henry Percy and twenty-one other knights were captured, and over 1,000 were killed.

The accounts of the battle are among the best descriptions of medieval chivalry and military tactics. The defeated Hotspur was eventually to meet his death at Shrewsbury in 1403 in an uprising against the King.

The open character of the battlefield in 1388 has been preserved over the years, although the grassland is improved. Scrubby woodland on the upper slopes helped to mask the flanking attacks by both sides.

AMENITY FEATURES A stone monument marks where the fiercest fighting took place, but it was moved 180 yards westwards in 1777 to its present site. Interpretative panels have been erected beside the present Cross site. A public right of way gives access to the heart of the battlefield although in practice the route for pedestrians is via Otterburn Hall Farm.

OTHER DESIGNATIONS Part of the battlefield lies within Northumberland National Park. The whole area is designated an Area of High Landscape Value in the development plan. Percy's Cross is Listed.

KEY SOURCES Froissart, J, 1968, Chronicles, trans., G Brereton Laing, D (ed.), 1872, The Orygynale Cronykil of Scotland by Andrew of Wyntoun

This list entry was subject to a Minor Amendment to the Selected Sources on 10/04/2019


The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

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English Heritage Battlefield Report: Battle of Otterburn 1388 (Published 1995), accessed 10th April 2019 from


This battlefield is registered within the Register of Historic Battlefields by Historic England for its special historic interest.

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