Tuesday, 13 March 2012

The Scots Army at the Battle of Neville's Cross, 1346

King David had made great efforts to call out as much of Scotland’s army as possible before marching south. In theory at least the main body of the army was expected to assemble within 8 days of the King calling a muster, but in practice the units from more distant areas would take longer to arrive. Nevertheless, David probably marched with the majority of his Lowland troops. The Lord of the Isles, still semi-independent at this time, did not call out his troops so there were no Highlanders nor Islanders in the Scottish army.

The troops the English met at Neville’s Cross would have been familiar to them from earlier encounters at Halidon Hill and Falkirk. The bulk of the army were infantry armed with spears, shields and helmets and a fair number would have had mail or scale armour jackets. It is unlikely that David would have brought many of the ‘Small Folk’ with him. These were poor men expected to serve equipped with only a spear or axe. Such men were unmounted and David was on a looting raid, which demands speed of movement.

David did, however, have about 2,000 knights and armoured horsemen in his army. By this date the chain mail suits and large, round helmets of previous battles were going out of favour. The head of a knight was now more likely to be protected by a sphere-like helmet called a bascinet with a moveable visor over the face. The body was still protected largely by chain mail and the shield, but the legs and arms were now being covered in plates of steel.

The Scottish army also had the French troops sent by King Philip. It is not clear exactly how many such men were at Neville’s Cross, but there were certainly fewer than 500. These men would have been equipped with spears, swords and shields much like the Scots infantry, though the spears would have been shorter at around 10 feet compared to 14 for the Scots. The key difference was in armour. The French would have worn full suits of chain mail and heavy, enclosed helmets. Over the armour was worn leg and arm guards of tough leather, often with metal plates attached.

from ENGLAND VS SCOTLAND by Rupert Matthews

No comments:

Post a Comment