Battles and Clashes 14
The Battle of Ancrum Moor
12 February 1545
It was common practice for the wealthy to extend their holdings by marriage. Thus large tracts of estate were acquired by a family adding to their wealth, and power.
The piece of land Henry VIII was anxious to acquire was Scotland and, in pursuit of his aims, he proposed that his infant son, Edward, (by Catherine Seymour, wife number three), be married to the infant daughter of James V of Scotland.
But the Scottish parliament would have none if it. They rejected Henry's master plan and Henry, furious at being frustrated, sent a strong force led by Hereford to invade Scotland. Thus, what was later known as 'The Rough Wooing,' came about.
In May of 1544 a strong force landed on the Firth of Forth and quickly occupied and laid waste Leith and then Edinburgh. It is said the fires of Edinburgh raged for four days.
After this initial
success and with the Scots shocked and demoralized, the English forces pushed
on deeper into southern Scotland. Quarrelling amongst themselves, the
Scots were unable to put up but little more than feeble resistance and the
English forces, now under the command of Two of Henry's most ruthless
officers, Sir Ralph Evers and Sir Brian Latoun. ravished the defenceless
countryside with the utmost brutality, slaughtering and destroying
everything in their path.
The English force, led by Sir Ralph Eure, who, in an age of cruelty and little regard for human life, distinguished himself for his brutality and greed, was promised by the king all the territory he could conquer. He pursued his campaign with vigorous enthusiasm.
The English thrust onwards destroying Melrose and the Abbey. They callously destroyed the tombs of the Douglas family which further infuriated the Scots, but they were still weak and could do little but to make limited raids against the enemy's flanks.
But the tide was about to turn.
Angus, the Scots lieutenant of the Border, began assembling a Scottish force to resist the relentless tide of the English advance. No was no shortage of volunteers now that they had a leader to follow.
On the 12 February 1545,the English were encamped on Ancrum Moor, heavy with plunder and confidence resulting from a series of successful encounters.
The Angus force now amounted to a mere 1200 men but were expecting the arrival of more reinforcements. Cautiously, Angus approached the English force and deployed his small army ready for battle but out of sight of his enemy. Riders dismounted and led away their horses to the rear.
The English were aware of this unusual manoeuvre and mistook the move as a sign of retreat. They were over confident after so many victories and they had intelligence that the Scottish force was small and ill assorted. But then the Scots were joined by Sir Norman Leslie, the Master of Rothes, who brought with him an elite force of 1200 lances.
While establishing themselves on the haugh beside the River Tweed, the invaders were alleged to have set fire to the Tower of Broomhill occupied by an elderly lady and her family and servants. They were all burnt to death, and this story , true or not, bolstered the Scots' resolve with the battle cry of 'Remember Broomhouse.'
The English, convinced they were about to engage a retreating and disordered force, moved forward confidently in a body to the brow
of the ridge and were confronted by the Scots army in battle array. The impetuous
of their surge forward resulted in his men running headlong into a wall
of pikes and lances. Being late in the day and facing west, they were
blinded by the setting sun and the attack floundered.
Seizing his opportunity, Angus ordered an advance and the Scots moved into the disordered ranks of the English who quickly scattered. Layton and Eure attempted to rally his men but the situation was hopeless and the English were mercilessly hewn down by the Scots.
The English lost 800 dead and more than that
number were taken prisoner.
Both Eure and Layton were killed.
There is a tradition that a young woman whose lover had been killed by the English vowed retribution. Seizing a sword, she plunged into the ranks of the English troops wielding the sword against the hated foe until she herself was struck down.
There is a monument erected to Lilliard and it serves as also as a memorial to the battle.
Next year, in 1545, he returned again.
Map reference: 74 616 272