Battle of the River Sark - 1448

Battle of River Sark

Reconstruction by Andrew Spratt

1448 (23 Oct) Gretna/River Sark 
Hugh Douglas, Earl of Ormonde bt Earl of Northumberland 

Henry, 2nd Earl of Northumberland (1414-1455) was seventeen when his grandfather died. At the age of 12 he and James (the young son of the King of Scotland) were in a ship traveling to France to be educated there, when the vessel was captured by English privateers near Flamborough Head. Both were taken prisoner and sent to Windsor where the Prince of Wales, afterwards Henry V, struck up a close friendship with Percy, which led to the restoration of his honours and estates in 1414.

Henry V set out on his French expedition, he made Northumberland General Warden of the Marches, a post which he held throughout the reign, and also during the early years of Henry VI. About 1424 the town of Alnwick was burnt by the Scots.

In 1436 the Earl led a force up the Breamish river towards Scotland, but was met and defeated by William, 8th Earl of Douglas at Piperden, where his cousin Sir Richard Percy was killed. This fight is interesting as it probably forms the source of the legendary Battle of Chevy Chase. Northumberland retired to Alnwick where he rallied his forces and marched to the relief of Roxburgh, which was holding out gallantly against the Scots. Under the walls of that town he defeated and dispersed the Scottish army. This Scottish expedition became known as the "Dirtin Raid".

In 1448 Northumberland invaded Scotland and burnt Dumfries in revenge for which the Earl of Douglas burnt the town of Alnwick. The Earl in his turn invaded Scotland again with a large army but was defeated at the river Sark in Annandale, where his life was saved by his son Henry who, however, fell into the enemy's hands.

In 1452 began the long struggle known as the Wars of the Roses. The Earl took the Lancastrian side, and was killed in the first battle of the war at St. Albans in 1455, and was succeeded by his son Henry.


Lochmaben stoneThe Lochmaben stone marks the site of the battle