Battle of Otterburn 1388


Heritage Category: Battlefield

List Entry Number: 1000029

Date first listed: 06-Jun-1995

Location Description: OTTERBURN


Ordnance survey map of Battle of Otterburn 1388
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Location Description: OTTERBURN

The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

District: Northumberland (Unitary Authority)

Parish: Otterburn


National Grid Reference: NY 87850 94006


Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.

Reasons for Designation

Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.


Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.



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


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

Legacy System number: 30

Legacy System: Battlefields


English Heritage, 1995, Battlefield Report: Otterburn 1388, accessed 11-JUN-2015 from

End of official listing