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Boroughbridge battle monument, now at Aldborough
 
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Battle of Boroughbridge
16th March 1322

The battle of Boroughbridge saw the total defeat of rebel forces under the Earl of Lancaster. It was a small but dramatic battle, or at least appears so thanks to the graphic detail provided in the contemporary accounts. It was achieved by a royal commander who took a strong position, holding a major river crossing, giving the rebels no alternative but to fight for control. He also used a very effective combination of tactics against the heavily armoured rebel force: a defensive wall of spears copied from the Scots and an offensive arrowstorm provided by his archers. In this, Harcla's victory foreshadowed the devastating success achieved some years later against the French at Crecy.

 

The action was fought for control of a narrow bridge and a nearby ford by which the Great North Road crossed the River Ure. Today the battlefield has been largely engulfed by the town, but in 1322 Boroughbridge had probably not yet extended as far north as the bridge. The land on either side of the river will have been floodplain meadow. But, while the bridge was probably very close to its present site, it is uncertain exactly where the ford lay, making it difficult to appreciate exactly how all the forces were deployed and where they fought.

 

The site is easily explored on foot from a car park within the town. Despite urban expansion, the battlefield can still be easily appreciated on the ground, because it was a fight across the river and there is still today considerably more open ground than might at first appear.

 

 

KEY FACTS

 

Name: Battle of Boroughbridge          

Type: battle

Campaign: Boroughbridge

War period: Medieval

Outcome: Royal victory

Country: England

County: North Yorkshire

Place: Boroughbridge

Location:  Approximate

Terrain: Open field meadow / Urban

Date: 16th March 1322

Start: probably late in the day

Duration: probably fairly short

Armies: Royal forces under Sir Andrew de Harcla; rebels under Earls of Lancaster & Hereford.

Numbers: Royal: circa 4000; Rebel: 700 knights and men at arms with uncertain number of followers.

Losses: uncertain

Grid Reference: SE 397670 (439620,467020)

OS Landranger map: 99

OS Explorer map: 299

 

 

English Heritage Battlefields Register report CLICK HERE

 

   
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