In October 1346, Scottish forces invaded England to honour a treaty with France, but also to loot and pillage the northern towns. The Scots’ 12,000-strong army sacked their way southwards towards Durham, in the false belief that the ongoing war in France had taken most of the English troops. On the foggy morning of 17 October, the Scots stumbled upon a 6,000-–7,000-strong English army at Neville’s Cross, a stretch of moorland near Durham. Both sides formed three battalions, with the Scottish king, David II, leading the middle unit. After a protracted stalemate, the English moved their archers forward, intimidating the Scottish lines. Provoked, the Scots took the offensive, leading to three hours of intense fighting. The Scottish battalions, on more unstable terrain than their English adversaries, fell apart, with many Scottish nobles fleeing the battlefield, leaving David’s unit to fight alone. After being shot in the head by two arrows, David II was captured and imprisoned. Later that year, the English occupied most of southern Scotland.
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