This page was last updated on 27 December 2018

Click here to 
Print this page

Biography finder





























Index of first names

Cleanse the Causeway



The skirmish known as Cleanse the Causeway, or Clear the Causeway, took place in the High Street of Edinburgh, Scotland, on April 30, 1520, between rivals James Hamilton, 1st Earl of Arran, chief of Clan Hamilton, and Archibald Douglas, 6th Earl of Angus, chief of Clan Douglas.

The skirmish was the result of enmity between the House of Hamilton and the "Red" Angus line of the House of Clan Douglas, both powerful noble families jealous of each other's influence over King James V. The Hamiltons, led by Sir Patrick Hamilton of Kincavil, half-brother of the Earl of Arran, and Sir James Hamilton of Finnart, the earl's bastard son, attempted to apprehend the Earl of Angus, and prompted a street fight.

The Earl of Arran had become Lord Provost of Edinburgh in 1517 and head of the King’s Council. In a dispute over the sale of a cargo of timber from a Dutch ship, he had sided with Leith merchants over the Edinburgh burgesses. The Leithers, supported by Robert Barton, had ignored any of the rights of the burgesses, but Arran still gave them his support, enraging the Edinburgh traders. During the skirmish, the burgesses of Edinburgh saw the opportunity for revenge, and took the side of Angus.

The fight went badly for the Hamiltons, and Sir Patrick Hamilton and about 70 others were killed in the incident. The Earl of Arran and Sir James fought their way out, and escaped along a narrow close. Stealing a nearby pack-horse that had come into the city with coals, they fled through the shallows of the Nor Loch marshes.


Bookmark and Share



Any contributions to this item will be gratefully accepted


Errors and Omissions

The Forum

What's new?

We are looking for your help to improve the accuracy of The Douglas Archives.

If you spot errors, or omissions, then please do let us know


Many articles are stubs which would benefit from re-writing. Can you help?


You are not authorized to add this page or any images from this page to (or its subsidiaries) or other fee-paying sites without our express permission and then, if given, only by including our copyright and a URL link to the web site.


If you have met a brick wall with your research, then posting a notice in the Douglas Archives Forum may be the answer. Or, it may help you find the answer!

You may also be able to help others answer their queries.

Visit the Douglas Archives Forum.


2 Minute Survey

To provide feedback on the website, please take a couple of minutes to complete our survey.


We try to keep everyone up to date with new entries, via our What's New section on the home page.

We also use the Community Network to keep researchers abreast of developments in the Douglas Archives.

Help with costs

Maintaining the three sections of the site has its costs.  Any contribution the defray them is very welcome



If you would like to receive a very occasional newsletter - Sign up!


Back to top


The content of this website is a collection of materials gathered from a variety of sources, some of it unedited.

The webmaster does not intend to claim authorship, but gives credit to the originators for their work.

As work progresses, some of the content may be re-written and presented in a unique format, to which we would then be able to claim ownership.

Discussion and contributions from those more knowledgeable is welcome.

Contact Us

Last modified: Thursday, 16 January 2020