Scottish Battles - Arbroath to Flodden

23rd January 1446 Battle of Arbroath
This was a local dispute fuelled by the dismissal of Alexander Lindsay, son of the 3rd Earl of Crawford, Chief Justiciar of the Abbey of Arbroath, and the appointment of Alexander Ogilvy of Inverquharity in his place. Lindsay was ill-pleased and with 1,000 of his men took possession of the town and abbey. A battle took place and the Ogilvys, supported by Sir Alexander Seton of Gordon, were heavily defeated.

23rd October 1448 Battle of Sark (also known as the Battle of Lochmaben Stone)
This was the first decisive Scots victory over the English for fifty years. When the 2nd Earl of Northumberland led a force into Dumfriesshire, he was decisively defeated at Lochmaben by Hugh Douglas, Earl of Ormonde (son of the 7th Earl of Douglas), George Douglas, 4th Earl of Angus, and William St Clair, 1st Earl of Orkney.

18th May 1452 Battle of Brechin Muir
A feud between Clan Ogilvy and Clan Lindsay had been ongoing for some time, and yet another confrontation took place at Brechin where the 4th Earl of Crawford, the Lindsay Chief, was defeated by the Ogilvys in an alliance with Clan Gordon, led by Alexander, 1st Earl of Huntly.

1454 Battle of Clachnaharry
This clan battle was fought between Clan Munro and Clan Mackintosh on the banks of the Beauly Firth near Inverness. It was caused by a dispute over the amount of “blackmail”, or toll money the Munros were expected to pay for crossing Mackintosh land with their cattle.
There are varying accounts of what ensued, but it is generally thought that the Mackintosh chief was killed in the struggle. A monument marks the site of the battle.

1st May1455 Battle of Arkinholm
This was an incident in the ongoing conflict between the Royal House of Stewart and the Black Douglases who were considered a threat to the governance of James II. There were, in fact, two Douglas factions: the Black Douglases under the rebellious James, 9th Earl of Douglas, and the Red Douglases, represented by the earls of Angus, and who supported the King.
The fight took place near Langholm in Dumfriesshire. Douglas remained in exile in England, but his brothers Archibald, Earl of Moray and Hugh, Earl of Ormonde were captured and executed. Afterwards, the Black Douglases were attainted.

3rd August 1460 Siege of Roxburgh
Roxburgh Castle, which had been fought over on many occasions by the Scots and the English, had fallen to the English and was destroyed after the 19-year old James II was killed by one of his own cannons exploding next to him. Queen Mary (of Gueldres) raced to the scene with theis son, now James III, to encourage the Scots who were under the command of George, 4th Earl of Angus, and the castle capitulated.

Circa 1464 Battle of Tannach Moor
This was considered an epic confrontation at Wick between Clan Gunn from Caithness against Clan Keith and Clan Mackay from Strathnaver. A dispute appears to have arisen over land claimed by Clan Gunn's allies, the Oliphants, The Keiths won, but it appears that James IV later granted the lands to the Oliphants.

22nd July 1484 Battle of Lochmaben Fair
James III was not the most popular King of Scots, and exploiting the situation, his cousins Alexander Stewart, Duke of Albany and James, 9th Earl of Douglas brought a troop of English cavalry into Scotland with the backing of the recently crowned Richard III. They misjudged the situation and when they turned up at the annual Lochmaben Fair in the hope of inciting an uprising, the townsfolk turned against them. Albany escaped while Douglas was taken prisoner and imprisoned at Lindores Abbey where he died four years later.

11th June 1488 Battle of Sauchieburn
A civil war had sprung up around the unpopularity of James III who was confronted by a group of dissident Scottish nobles, supposedly led by his 15-year old son, the future James IV. The battle which took place near Stirling went badly for the King, who was thrown from his horse. Various apocryphal tales surround his death which took place shortly afterwards, but there is no hard evidence to support any of them.

11th October 1489 Battle of Gartalunane
In the aftermath of Sauchieburn, there was considerable unrest among the Scots nobility and near Aberfoyle, the recently crowned James IV had to rapidly suppress a force led by Matthew, 4th Earl of Lennox and the 1st Lord Lyle. Lennox fled to England, while Lyle was later pardoned and restored to his office of Great Justiciary of Scotland.

Circa 1488/89 Naval Battles off Dunbar and Dundee
James IV of Scotland was particularly interested in ships and canon, and determined that Scotland's defences should be state-of-the- art. Scottish waters were often harassed by privateers sent north by Henry VII of England, and on one such occasion five of them were pursued and attacked by Sir Andrew Wood off the coast of Dunbar. The two Scots ships, Flower and Yellow Caravel won the day and the English ships were taken hostage. The following year, Edward VII sent his most able commander Captain Stephen Bull north to capture Wood. On 10th August 1489, Bull surprised Wood, but the latter succeeded in capturing all three of the enemy vessels, taking them to Dundee.

Flodden Field, Sir Edward Coley Burne-Jones (1833-1898). Gouache and gold paint on paper, 1882
Flodden Field, Sir Edward Coley Burne-Jones (1833-1898). Gouache and gold paint on paper, 1882






9th September 1513 Battle of Flodden (also known as the Battle of Branxton Moor)
With Henry VIII of England's invasion of France in support of the Holy League, James IV of Scotland was compelled through the terms of the Auld Alliance to invade England to cause a diversion. The English forces were led by Thomas Howard, Earl of Surrey (later 3rd Duke of Norfolk). James had placed his canon on a hill, but Surrey's forces had mistakenly continued north and, turning around to approach from another direction, rendered the Scots fire power largely useless.
The battle took place in Northumberland, and was the worst military disaster in Scotland's history with the King and virtually the entire nobility of Scotland being killed on the battlefield.