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"Battle of Clitheroe & Battle of the Standard" Topic

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Personal logo Whirlwind Supporting Member of TMP25 Nov 2016 2:51 p.m. PST

Two (related) questions: is there enough information out there anywhere to reconstruct the Battle of Clitheroe link ,and what is the current best thinking about the size and composition of the two armies at the Battle of the Standard?

Oh Bugger Inactive Member26 Nov 2016 3:29 a.m. PST

We did this one a long while ago on TMP. There is not much written about Clitheroe.

It seems,iirc, it was the Gaels of the King of Scots Army that triumphed over the Normans at Clitheroe though we don't know the size of the forces engaged.

This influenced the deployment at the Standard where the Scots were beaten in detail.

Interesting question I hope you get some good replies.

Personal logo rampantlion Supporting Member of TMP26 Nov 2016 2:24 p.m. PST

I had not heard of this battle, please let us know what you find out.


uglyfatbloke26 Nov 2016 3:41 p.m. PST

Yup; me too.

Great War Ace Inactive Member27 Nov 2016 9:53 a.m. PST

Wikipedia is always a useful first stop. Unfortunately, it is also the only stop, unless you want to buy (for .99) this little treatise: link

I bet that you come away with nothing more substantial than the Wiki article…………..

Personal logo Whirlwind Supporting Member of TMP27 Nov 2016 10:19 a.m. PST


Yes, I bought and read it last night. There is very little solid evidence at all. What there is, I'll try and write-up what is there this week and see if there is enough to make a scenario.

Beaumap28 Dec 2016 11:41 a.m. PST

There is a book called 'Yorkshire Battles' by William Hebden that has some stuff on troops at The Battle of The Standard. I live locally, and the consensus seems to be that the Fyrd was called out. so imagine axe-armed Anglo-Danish, Norman, French and Flemish settlers plus peasant 'filler'. However specific mention is made of Saxon bowmen 'with bow and arrow about 2 cubits in length'(proto-long bow?!)

The old Saxon banners were taken from crypts in Beverly, York, Ripon and Durham. Troops were mustered from as far south as Lincolnshire and Nottinghamshire. Two Norman 'Scots' contingents deserted to the English because their own lands in England were at risk (Balliol and Bruce – what a surprise.) This gives you plenty of contingents but no numbers etc.

Hebden posits Lowland spearmen, Border smallbow, 'troopers' from Cumbria, wild Galwegians, and of course 'claymore' armed Highlanders. Very suspiciously indeed, all troop types reflect later proven usage, from hundreds of years later! Personally I would reckon that they were all dressed and armed like very poor Vikings or very, very poor Irish except for a few East Coast thanes and Norman interlopers.

I strongly recommend the ditching of more modern national concepts, and also the use of any kind of elite troops so beloved of war gamers.

The only number I know of is the 12,000 Scottish dead on the field. (I am sure some recent revisionist will already have produced a paper saying this meant 120 since medieval people couldn't count.)The invasion had been particularly brutal and the revenge will certainly have been substantial. they are still finding massacre sites from the Scots line of march. A particularly moving one is on the A19 south of Middlesbrough by an isolated church. the remains of over a hundred local peasants were found there about 15 years ago. The memorial is to a little girl – the only complete body found.

No one round here is that up on Lancashire battles!

Beaumap28 Dec 2016 12:06 p.m. PST

The church I was referring to in the post above is at Leake, now essentially a Deserted Medieval Village. The church and an ancient farmhouse remain. The first excavation of bodies was in 1852. At the time the excavators linked the mass grave to either the Black Death or a legendary massacre of Danes by English women slaves. My numbers were wrong – 500+ were disinterred. The little girl was found using modern archaeological methods after a modern grave was dug, enabling more accurate dating.

Elenderil18 Feb 2017 9:39 a.m. PST

I'm originally from a Clitheroe and I don't think you will find much more about the battle than the pamphlet provides. There isn't much in the town museum about it and other than there I can't think of any local sources. There is a lot of supposition in the booklet but the author makes it clear what is fact and what is best guess. In my opinion the guess work makes sense and it's as good a starting place as any.

uglyfatbloke18 Feb 2017 10:00 a.m. PST

I'd be very dubious about the traditional assertion of Galwegians not wearing armour 'cos 'real men' did n't do that sort of thing. Might make good copy for a chronicle, but it's not really very credible. Same applies more generally to the rafts of unarmoured peasant arrow-fodder beloved of later writers (and wargame rule-writers)and I'd suggest you look to have a minimum of a basic helmet for everyone and a bit of mail for most – short-sleeved or sleeveless shirts/vests for the many, serious mail for the few. I'd also avoid a proliferation of axes (save as a secondary weapon) in favour of spears, though maybe not the log 12 ft jobs generally associated with Scottish armies. I can't think of any serious reason why the armies would look any different to one another; the English and Scottish troops looked identical in the 13/14/15th C so why would they look any different before that?
That said, they're your figures and it's only a game, so you should do what you think feels/looks right to you.

bilsonius Inactive Member20 Feb 2017 10:23 a.m. PST

I'm afraid that for many of us Brits of a certain age, the word Clitheroe evokes the image of an ageing comedian of restricted growth, dressed as a schoolboy… "Don't Some Mothers 'Ave 'Em?"

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