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The Battle of Dupplin Moor

 

The Battle of Dupplin Moor or 'Duplin Muir' took place on the 12th August 1332 and was the battle that began the Second Scottish War of Independence fought between Edward Balliol and Donald of Mar who had been appointed as Regent of Scotland only a few weeks earlier.

The Background

The king of Scotland Robert the Bruce died in 1329 and was succeeded by his four year old son David. Edward Balliol, son of the former king John Balliol, perceiving an opportunity now that Scotland's king was a mere child began gathering support amongst the 'Disinherited', those Scottish nobles who had lost their lands through their previous opposition to Robert.

Whilst the Scots may well have been expecting an assault, Edward Balliol simply decided to bypass the Scottish defences and persuaded Edward III of England to provide a fleet to transport his army across the North Sea. The expeditionary force set off from the Humber and sailed round the Scottish defences and landed at Kinghorn in Fife, where they were opposed by a small force led by the earl of Fife, which was soon brushed aside. They rapidly moved to take Dunfermline before continuing north across the Ochil Hills on their way to Perth.

On the 11th August 1332 Balliol's army crossed the river Earn at a point some seven miles southeast of the town of Perth and occupied the high ground on the opposite bank to camp for the night. At dawn the next day they awoke to find themselves facing a numerically superior Scots army eager to come to battle and to prevent them from reaching Perth.

The Battle

The Scottish army under the regent Donald of Mar was split into two divisions, most of whom were carrying the traditional Scottish long spear. The English adopted their by now customary tactics, where the men-at-arms all dismounted and formed into lines to protect the ranks of Welsh mercenary longbowmen, on loan from Edward III.

Since the Scots had the advantage of numbers and naturally wished to drive the invading force from Scottish soil, they attacked and charged Balliol's lines. The Scots however failed to break through and were pressed back; thus exposed on the field of battle they became targets for the longbowmen and the Scots were hit by the volleys of arrows sent in their direction.

The second Scottish division was then ordered to attack and split into two columns and tried to outflank Balliol's force. This second charge got nowhere near Balliol's lines as they too were cut down by the volleys of arrows sent in their direction.

Once the second charge had failed the Scots fell back in disarray, their retreat being hampered as they stumbled amongst the casualties already lying on the ground, making themselves even easier targets for the enemy longbows. The battle turned into a rout and according to one account the Scottish dead were said to he piled fifteen feet high whilst the English men-at-arms patiently waded through the battlefield finishing off any Scot that showed any signs of life.

By the end of the battle the Scottish dead included the earl of Mar himself, the earl of Menteith and the earl of Moray, the High Chamberlain Alexander Fraser, eighteen other Scottish barons and at least 2,000 soldiers from the Scottish army. (Although estimates of the Scottish dead vary wildly and as high as ten or thirteen thousand in some cases.)

The Aftermath

The battle of Dupplin Moor followed the pattern set at the battle of Falkirk in 1298 and which would be repeated again at Halidon Hill and at Neville's Cross - large numbers of Scottish infantry lined themselves up to fall in their thousands to the firepower of the longbow. A clear demonstration of the lesson that superior technology is capable of overwhelming an enemy that fails to adjust its tactics.

So Edward Balliol won the day and had himself crowned king of Scotland at Scone, but his hold on the throne only lasted a few months as a surprise attack on his camp forced him to flee 'half naked' back to to England. The fruits of his victory at Dupplin Moor proved to be shortlived.

The Second Scottish War of Independence was to prove to be a drawn out affair; the young David II fled to France to spend the next seven years in exile whilst Edward Balliol made further attempts to take the crown that he believed was rightfully his.



 

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Last modified: Saturday, 18 March 2017