Wooler and Glendale

Gateway to the Cheviot Hills

The Battle of Homildon Hill

The battle of Homildon or Humbleton Hill, sometimes also known as the battle of Millfield, was fought on the 14th September 1402 between an army of Northumbrians led by Henry Percy, 1st Earl of Northumberland and force of Scottish raiders commanded by Archibald Douglas, 4th Earl of Douglas.

With the Scots arrayed in defensive formation on Homildon hill, it appears that Harry Hotspur, Northumberland's eldest son, was eager to avenge his earlier defeat at the battle of Otterburn at the hands of the Scots and was all for charging the Scottish position and beginning the battle as soon as possible.

Fortunately, for Hotspur at least, his father had managed to acquire the services of George Dunbar, 3rd Earl of March, sworn enemy of Douglas and as a Scot himself, well versed in the weaknesses of the Scottish fighting man. It was George who pointed out that since the Percys had gone to the trouble of hiring some archers it would be shame not to put them to some use. Therefore, rather than confront the Scots directly, Northumberland's army took up position at the nearby Harehope Hill, with a ravine between them and the Scottish army. The archers then moved to the foot of the hill and began firing at the enemy. Although the Scots did have archers of their own, they were rapidly outclassed during the consequent exchange of missiles despite the advantage they had in commanding a more elevated position.

It wasn't long before the sheer quantity of arrows raining down upon the Scots "made them bristle like hedgehogs"; the Earl of Douglas himself was hit a number of times and lost an eye as a result. Eventually Douglas had enough and decided to lead a charge at the English lines. In the face of the advancing Scots, the English archers simply retreated in an orderly fashion, whilst continuing "letting fly in their retreat so thick as hail amongst their enemies". Such was the ferocity of the fire that the Scots never made contact with their enemy. The Scottish cavalry decided they'd had enough and made a run for it, and the whole army soon disintegrated in their haste to make it to the border. In the subsequent chaos many Scots surrendered "for fear of the death-dealing arrows" whilst others made it as far as the river Tweed only to drown in its waters.

The Scottish death toll that day amounted to some 1,200 including around 500 who drowned in the Tweed. The English loses were slight, with only five casualties claimed.