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The Battle of Otterburn: England and Scotland at War

Course Times & Enrolment

This course is currently unavailable.

Course Summary

The Battle of Otterburn (1388) is one of the most fascinating medieval encounters between the Scots and the English. Recorded in the Border Ballads, and by great chronicler, Jean Froissart, the battle was won by the Scots, yet it was the defeated English commander, Sir Henry ‘Hotspur’ Percy, who achieved legendary status. This one day course explores the background to the Otterburn campaign, the fighting itself and the battle’s mythic legacy.

Course Details

Pre-requisites for enrolment

No previous knowledge required.

Content of Course

1. Setting the scene: England and Scotland in the 14th century

Discussion of the political and social context, and the causes of Anglo-Scottish war.

2. Waging war in the later Middle Ages

Discussion of military organisation, fighting techniques and motivations.

3. How do we know?

An introduction to the key sources for the Battle of Otterburn, including the Westminster Chronicle, the works of Froissart and Wyntoun, and the Border Ballads.

4. Reconstructing the battle

An interpretation of the Otterburn campaign.

5. Conclusion: The Battle of Otterburn and its legacy

Discussion of the military and political outcomes, and the development of later legends.

Teaching method(s)

Lectures and discussion.

Learning outcomes

By the end of this course, students should be able to:

  • Understand the causes of Anglo-Scottish conflict in the later fourteenth century.

  • Describe the course of the Otterburn campaign and the ensuing battle.

  • Analyse the methods and motivations of those engaged in late medieval warfare.

  • Critique the ways in which the story of the battle was shaped over time, and assess the resulting challenges for the historian.


Core Readings


  • Armstrong, Peter 2006. Otterburn 1388: Bloody Border Conflict. Oxford: Osprey.

  • Sadler, John 2006. Border Fury: England and Scotland at War 1296-1568. Harlow: Longman.

Web Sources

Website of the Battlefields Trust

Class Handouts

Handouts will be provided.


If you have questions regarding the course or enrolment, please contact COL Reception at Paterson's Land by email or by phone 0131 650 4400.

Student support

If you have a disability, learning difficulty or health condition which may affect your studies, please let us know by ticking the 'specific support needs' box on your course application form. This will allow us to make appropriate adjustments in advance and in accordance with your rights under the Equality Act 2010. For more information please visit the Student Support section of our website.