Battle of Neville’s Cross

On this day in Scottish History

On 17th October 1346, at the Battle of Neville’s Cross, Durham, England, David II of Scotland is defeated and captured by English forces commanded by Lord Ralph Neville. The battle was part of the Second War of Scottish Independence and the Hundred Years’ War.

Scotland and England had been at war since 1332 in the Second War of Scottish Independence. In 1346 Edward III of England was planning a new campaign to France and Philip VI of France appealed to David II for support.

The French wanted the Scots to open a northern front against Edward III which would divert troops and supplies. On 7th October 1346, David II led a Scottish army of around 12,000 men across the border into England.

Confident in the belief that the bulk of Edward’s forces would be campaigning in France, David II expected little resistance. After sacking Hexham Abbey and ravaging the northern English countryside, the Scots arrived outside Durham on 16th October.

An English force of 7000 led by Ralph Neville, Baron Neville de Raby, met the Scots in battle, 1 mile to the west of Durham. With both armies taking a defensive stance, Lord Ralph Neville sent his longbowmen forward to fire on the Scottish lines. This succeeded in forcing the Scots to attack.

In ferocious hand-to-hand fighting, the Scots were repulsed with heavy casualties and pursued from the field. David II was wounded in the battle and captured. He would be a prisoner in England for 11 years until the Treaty of Berwick ends the war and secures his release.

The English followed up on their victory at Neville’s Cross by invading Scotland the following year and went on to occupy most of the country south of the River Forth.

Further Reading:

The Wars of Scotland: 1214-1371, (2004), Micheal Brown, Edinburgh University Press

David II: The Bruce Dynasty in Scotland, (2003), Micheal Penman, John Donald Publishers Ltd