The Battle of Otterburn

5th August, 1388


James Douglas, the 2nd Earl of Douglas was the grandson of Sir Archibald Douglas who had died leading the Scots at the disastrous Battle of Halidon Hill in 1333.

When the latest truce with the English expired in 1388 James led a daring raid against the port of Newcastle. After stealing cattle and other goods he made a slow retreat and set up camp at Otterburn. He was pursued by Henry Percy (Hotspur) who caught the Scottish camp unaware and set about a vicious fight which raged through the night.

The superior English force was badly beaten but by the time Percy surrendered James had already died. The battle became famous as a dead man's victory and James was said to have told his men to conceal his death so it would not affect the tide of battle. The events were commemorated in two famous ballads "The Battle of Otterburn" and "The Ballad of Chevy Chase", there are several versions of each.