The Battle of Dupplin Moor

By James Turner

‘One most marvellous thing happened that day, such as was never seen or heard of in any previous battle, that the pile of dead was greater in height from the earth toward the sky than one whole spear length.’ ~ The Lanercost Chronicle on the Battle of Dupplin Moor

The 10th of August 1332 saw two vastly mismatched armies facing each other across the River Earn in Perthshire. The host that held the northern bank, obviously far larger than its southern counterpart, was a Scottish army of Bruce loyalists commanded by the newly appointed Guardian of Scotland Earl Domhnall (or Donald) of Mar. Appointed to his position mere days ago Mar ruled Scotland in the name of child king David II. Arrayed around him were Earl Muireadhach Stewart of Menteith, Earl Thomas Randolph of Moray and Earl Donnchadh of Fife, the flower of Scottish nobility and his cousin Lord Robert Bruce of Liddesdale, the illegitimate son of the late king.


The opposing army was a rag-tag and hastily assembled collection of household retainers and mercenaries drawn largely from the north of England. It was, despite all appearances, a royal army, at least in the sense that one of the men who led it certainly regarded himself as king. This was the army of the Disinherited, a coalition of Anglo-Scottish nobles whose relatives had been exiled from Scotland and had their ancestral lands confiscated a generation ago for their refusal to acknowledge the validity of Robert Bruce’s rule.

Penny of David II of Scotland, minted circa 1351-1357. Image by Classical Numismatic Group, Inc.

In the summer of 1332 the Disinherited, led by Edward Balliol and Henry de Beaumont, had raised what troops they could and launched an impetuous seaborne invasion of Scotland with the goal of reclaiming their lost lands and titles. Born in 1283, Edward Balliol was the eldest surviving son of the long-deposed King John I of Scotland. John had come to the throne of Scotland in 1292 when Edward I of England, arbitrating the succession dispute that arose following the death of Alexander III, ruled that his claim to the throne was superior to that of his Bruce rivals.


However, Edward I attempted to leverage his role of arbiter to enforce acknowledgment of his claim that as King of England, he was the feudal overlord of the entirety of the British Isles, including Scotland. In 1296 a council of Guardians, ruling on behalf of John who had proven himself unequal to the task of standing up to Edward, invaded England in protest of Edward’s attempts to summon the Scottish king to an English law court. Unfortunately for King John this war ended with a disastrous defeat at the Battle of Dunbar and his imprisonment and forced abdication. Despite this setback, a succession of Guardians, including the famed William Wallace continued to fight for Scottish independence in the Balliol name.

This continued until 1306 when Robert Bruce the former adherent of the English king and the grandson of John’s rival to the throne took advantage of the Balliol’s continued absence and their guardians’ lack of success to advance his own alternate claim to the throne. As Robert’s dual campaign to secure the Scottish throne and drive out the English gained success after success Balliol’s former allies and supporters were forced one by one to either swear loyalty to Bruce or to throw their lot in with their former English opponents. Arrested and held in the Tower of London for several years after his father’s overthrow and then forced to live in exile on his family’s English and French estates, the forty-nine-year-old Edward Balliol had spent half a lifetime waiting for his chance to reclaim his father’s throne.

The other prominent leader amongst the Disinherited was Henry de Beaumont a French-born adventurer and soldier who had gained prominence within the English court as a result of his tireless participation in Edward I’s many military campaigns and probably far more importantly the close friendship he had formed with the future Edward II. Henry was married to Alice Comyn, the niece and rightful heir of Earl John Comyn of Buchan. Prior to the outbreak of the First War for Independence the Comyns were probably the most powerful and politically influential family within Scotland. They were close allies and relatives of the Balliol’s and had enjoyed close political ties with both Alexander II and Alexander III.

In some ways, they embodied the Scottish political establishment which was disrupted by the outbreak of war. Following Edward I’s overthrow of John Balliol the Comyns like many of his fellow Scottish nobles played a delicate double game where they attempted to foster opposition to their self-appointed English overlord but would quickly capitulate to Edward whenever it looked like he had the upper hand in order to protect their lands and status. This changed when the Earl’s cousin John Comyn the Red, the Lord of Badenoch, was murdered by Robert Bruce and his supporters during a meeting at Greyfriars in Dumfries in 1306.


Incensed by this killing the Earl and the rest of the Comyn family fully through their lot in with the English kings as a way of defeating Bruce, who was now openly calling himself the King of Scotland. The Comyns had just jumped aboard a sinking ship. Edward I died in 1307 leaving his successor Edward II with a number of urgent demands on his limited time and resources. A state of affairs which was only exacerbated by the younger Edward’s emerging unpopularity and gift for mismanagement of the nobility. With the threat of his English enemies in abeyance Robert Bruce turned his full attention to the reduction of his now isolated Scottish rivals. In an extended campaign stretching until the end of 1308 Robert and his allies systematically dismantled the Comyn powerbase, defeating them in battle and ravaging the Earldom of Buchan. Defeated, Earl John fled to England where he died shortly afterwards, leaving his now hollow title to his niece and her new husband.

Henry de Beaumont had a long personal familiarity with the Wars in Scotland, having taken part in both the English triumph at Falkirk under Edward I and the disaster that was Bannockburn under Edward II. Utterly determined to reclaim his wife’s lost Earldom Henry stayed loyal to Edward II throughout the many crises of his reign until the latter began to contemplate peace with Scotland. Henry then transferred his support to Edward’s rebel wife the French princess and Queen Isabella her partner the exiled Roger Mortimer. When the couple, who had deposed Edward II and now ruled as regents for Isabella’s son Edward III, in turn struck a peace with Scotland Henry attempted to stage an uprising against them. While rash this bizarrely worked out for Henry and his fellow Disinherited when the young Edward III forcibly removed his regents for power, allowing Henry to return from exile. Other notable members of the Disinherited were David Strathbogie and Gilbert de Umfraville whose grandfathers had held the Earldoms of Atholl and Angus respectively before they were confiscated by King Robert and redistributed amongst his own followers.

Earlier in the summer of 1332 Edward had sent orders to his northernmost sheriffs to disperse any men at arms gathering on the Scottish Marches for the purposes of invading Scotland. He was after all a signatory of the Treaty of Edinburgh-Northampton, a peace treaty negotiated in 1228 between his regents and the then increasingly sickly King Robert Bruce.

Scotland in 1334 – Map by MrPenguin20 / Wikimedia Commons

Of course, Edward knew perfectly well that the Disinherited were not going to muster their army on the Scottish border. He knew this because he himself had forbidden them from directly invading Scotland from English soil. He had, however, after extensive negotiations with Henry de Beaumont, acquiesced to allowing the Disinherited to undertake a seaborne invasion and was in the summer of 1332, perfectly aware of the existence of the small army gathering across the ports of Yorkshire’s northeastern coast. Rather than risk breaking the Treaty of Edinburgh-Northampton and tarnishing the reputation of the young English King by marching out of their power base in northern England, the Disinherited would arrive unbidden as anonymous outlaws from the wild and trackless seas over which no man or king could claim authority.

It was a neat political fiction that jarred somewhat with Edward’s other actions in the lead-up to the Disinherited’s departure. Accompanying the Disinherited was Walter Muny, one of the most trusted and distinguished of the king’s household knights. Muny had almost certainly attached himself to the Disinherited at the King’s behest, probably to act as Edward’s eyes and ears. Edward III, who was now well aware of the Disinherited’s plans, had on the 27th of March granted Henry de Beaumont the princely summon of £500, nominally in order to compensate him for the losses in income he had suffered during his earlier exile under the regents.

The king also gave his permission to Beaumont, David Strathbogie and their fellow Disinherited Richard Talbot and Thomas Wakefield to lease their estates, effectively granting the commanders of the Disinherited an additional avenue to raise much-needed cash. Money was, as ever, the essential sinew of war, the crucial resource that would determine if the Disinherited were able to raise a viable army. Many of the Disinherited had estates in the north of England which combined with this influx of cash allowed them to raise the skeleton of an army.

The Disinherited were able to muster a modest force of some one thousand and five hundred men. Of these, around a thousand were archers, lightly armoured missile troops recruited largely from the lower classes of English medieval society. The vast majority of the army’s archers were English. The English, probably as a result of the influence of their Welsh neighbours, exhibited a particular cultural attachment to the bow. While still somewhat ubiquitous across Europe, the bow had largely been replaced as a military tool by the crossbow, which were both more powerful and considerably easier to master.


The English largely resisted this trend, continuing to value and promote the bow as a weapon of war. In 1252, Henry III emulated his grandfather, Henry I, by publishing an Assize of Arms, a decree outlining the terms of military service owed to the king by his English subjects. In the Assize, the bow was identified as the base level of armament that every Englishman of military age was expected to bring with them for military service.

Indeed, archers had historically made up an important part of the English armies during the Edward I and Edward II war to secure overlordship of Scotland. Archers were potentially deadly in the right circumstances, but they needed to be deployed and utilised with care. At the Battle of Falkirk, under Edward I, they had proved decisive against the tightly packed but slow-moving formations of William Wallace’s host. At Bannockburn under Edward II, they had been crammed into the small amount of solid ground available and were unable to effectively hinder the enemy advance.

The second component of the army was five hundred men-at-arms. These were simultaneously the army’s frontline fighters and its dedicated martial elite. While the exact origins and quality of their arms and armour were highly idiosyncratic, most would have been well equipped with some degree of plate armour, helms and a profusion of weapons meant to counter similarly armoured troops. The core of the Disinherited’s men-at-arms was made up of the retainers and vassals of the army’s leaders, supplemented by adventurers and mercenaries looking to enrich themselves through war. Most such men probably came from the north of England and had been involved in the long-running war of raid and counter-raid that had raged across the Anglo-Scottish border, while others had come from further afield such as Germany and the Lowlands.

Such men, the inheritors of the traditional knightly class and mode of warfare, tended to prefer to fight from horseback. Contemporary English armies usually took a survey and evaluation of the horses involved prior to the commencement of a campaign, due to the understanding that the king recompense men for the value of their lost horses.  Such records reveal that in addition to their prized warhorses, many knights and men at arms during this period were accompanied by three or four less expensive horses.  Such second-tier mounts proved useful for the transport of goods, undertaking long marches and the launching of raids. While the Disinherited, as a private enterprise, kept no such records, it is possible that the seaborne nature of the invasion and its pressing financial limitations meant that the army contained a significantly smaller ratio of horses. This combined with the military experience of Henry de Beaumont may have contributed to its members’ later willingness to countenance fighting on foot.

Throughout late spring and summer, the Disinherited mustered their small army, procuring the necessary supplies and naval assets required to convey it safely to the battlefields of Scotland. Edward III’s ruse had succeeded in maintaining only the thinnest veneer of official deniability. The Bruce royal government and the Scottish aristocracy were well aware that an invasion was imminent and were equally busy preparing for its repulse. The mastermind and driving force behind these mobilising efforts was the Guardian, Thomas Randolph. It is probable that the strain and pressure of directing these efforts and coercing elements of the somewhat reluctant Scottish aristocracy to contribute to the realm’s defence exacerbated Randolph’s existing illness contributing to his death on the 20th of July 1332.

A mere eleven days later on the 31st of July, the Disinherited took to sea in a cobbled together fleet of around eighty-eight vessels. Their destination Scotland and the lost seats of their ancestors. It was by any contemporary standards an almost hopelessly small army with which to overthrow a dynasty and recapture a kingdom. Yet the members of Disinherited had waited decades for an opportunity like the one presented to them in 1332 and were determined to press on while the political winds remained favourable to their cause.

The Disinherited’s army arrived at the port of Kinghorn on the 6th of August winning a minor skirmish when Scottish levies led by the Earl of Fife attempted to oppose their landing. They subsequently raided the cache of war material the Scots had gathered at Dunfermline before striking north for Perth and Scone, the sacred coronation site of Scottish kings where they encountered the Earl of Mars’ army.

Earl Domhnall was a maternal nephew of King Robert. Born sometime in the early 1300s, Domhnall had been captured by the English in 1306 shortly after his uncle announced his bid for the throne. As a result, the young earl was raised in a relatively luxurious and gentle captivity in England. He was like so many other Scottish royal and noble hostages freed following Edward II’s defeat at Bannockburn and chose to remain in England. He subsequently fought against the forces of his Scottish royal relatives on Edward’s behalf throughout the 1320s and took part in the Battle of Old Byland.

Domhnall’s loyalties were like most men of his time and class overwhelmingly personal rather than cultural, his return to Scotland being prompted by the death and overthrow of Edward II. He subsequently commanded a wing of the Scottish army during the Battle of Stanhope Park, facing off against an English army fighting under the command of Queen Isabella and Roger Mortimer. Testimony during the trial of Thomas of Woodstock suggested that Domhnall may have been in contact with Henry de Beaumont as part of some scheme to solicit Scottish support in the forcible removal of the regents.

He had been elected to the post of Guardian mere days before the battle in an emergency Parliament held in Perth upon the death of his cousin and predecessor Thomas Randolph. In some senses, Domhnall was a compromise candidate for the silent majority. He was backed by a significant portion of the aristocracy that was not particularly closely aligned with the Bruce dynasty and who wanted to avoid a drawn-out war with the Disinherited or their English backers. His candidacy was opposed by a more bellicose faction of the Scottish nobility led by Robert Bruce of Liddesdale who suggested none too quietly that Mar could not be trusted to uphold King David’s best interests.

Nevertheless, Mar eventually triumphed in the Perth Parliament and found himself charged with the task of repelling this most presumptuous of invasions. His plan for the coming war was simplicity itself. All too aware, thanks to their numerous spies, that the Disinherited were proceeding up the east coast of Scotland but unsure exactly where they planned to make landfall, Mar organised Scottish forces into two distinct armies. One of these armies was placed north of the Firth of Forth, while the other, probably of roughly equal size, was placed to its south. The plan was simple but elegant. Wherever the Disinherited landed, they would soon find themselves opposed by a substantial Scottish army. The closest Scottish force would seek to hem in the Disinherited, attacking them if deemed practical, while the other army marched to reinforce them.

Mar placed himself in command of the northern army and appointed Earl Patrick of Dunbar to the command of the force guarding the coast south of the Firth. Patrick’s father, also called Patrick, had been one of the candidates for the throne of Scotland who brought their claims before the council arbitrated by Edward I in 1291. In 1296 he had fought for Edward I against John Balliol and the Scottish guardians. It had been his wife, Majorie Comyn, who had surrendered Dunbar Castle to the swiftly retreating Scottish army, so unwittingly triggering the disastrous Battle of Dunbar.  Succeeding to the Earldom upon his father’s death in 1308, the younger Patrick had remained firm in his allegiance to the English king and concept of English royal overlordship until Bannockburn. After this defeat, which he was not present for, Patrick smuggled Edward II and his immediate retinue onto a departing ship before hurrying to make peace with the Bruces.

The exact size of the Earl of Mar’s army is greatly exaggerated in both later English and Scottish chronicles. A more realistic estimate, proffered by historians, formed by considering the manpower available within the kingdom of Scotland and the suggestion that the Earl of Dunbar’s army was roughly the same size, puts the army at around fifteen thousand men. Enough to outnumber the small Disinherited army by a grotesque ten to one. That the Scottish nobility had been able to raise two such forces while negotiating a leadership crisis speaks highly of the thoroughness of the late Guardian’s preparations and the Scottish aristocracy’s continued ability to coordinate and cooperate with one another.

Source: Wikimedia Commons

Unlike their outnumbered counterparts in the Disinherited, the members of the Scottish army were not paid or fed for their service.  A situation which had a profound impact upon the character and organisation of previous military campaigns. There were two principal forms of military recruitment operating within medieval Scotland at this time. The first method of raising troops was a variant derived from traditional feudal obligation, in which a sort of army of retinues was formed as members of the nobility mobilised both their own military households and called upon their vassals and allies to do the same.

Like England, Scotland nominally operated a system of knight’s fees which supposedly denoted the number of knights a landowner was expected to raise for military service. However, much like in England, the actual relationship between the value of land and the number of knight’s fees attached to it was inconsistent and notional at best. Numerous records exist of landowners being assessed as owning fractions of a knight’s fee. Did these landowners have to cooperate with neighbours or relatives to equip a single knight between them? Was there some sum of money that equated directly to a knight’s fee that such individuals could pay a fraction of? Were all knight’s fees intended to be paid in this way?

Overall, it is probably best to regard knight’s fees as a comparative financial instrument used in negotiations between the nobility and royal officials, rather than a strict quota for the raising of troops. The reality is that the number of soldiers raised by any noble was highly variable and depended almost entirely upon their commitment and closeness to the royal government or an immediate royal lieutenant at the time a campaign was called.

While this system would produce its fair share of poorly armed levies, it also raised a significant portion of well-equipped and trained soldiers in the form of the combined military households and immediate retainers of the participating aristocrats. Armies raised in this way, temporary military coalitions of aristocrats gathered together for a single campaign or objective, had carried out the majority of the everyday fighting in Bruce’s war to claim the throne of Scotland.

The second route for the mustering of soldiers in Scotland was the tradition that in times of emergency, the King, or in this case his Guardian, could summon every able-bodied man in the kingdom to military service. Such musters were usually called only on a regional level to support ongoing campaigns being fought by more traditionally raised troops. While such musters could raise formidable amounts of troops, their usefulness was invariably curtailed by their lack of equipment and military training. Worse, while such troops were instructed to bring their own food, they could not realistically gather or carry more than enough to support themselves for a few days.

In 1318, Robert I passed legislation in an attempt to mitigate some of the weaknesses of these levies, imposing standards of equipment that such men were supposed to bring on campaign with them. Such standards were variably based upon an individual’s income, a rich man with a yearly income in excess of £10 was required to equip himself in the manner of a man at arms with some measure of plate armour, an aketon, steel gauntlets and a helmet. Armour such as this could be manufactured in limited amounts in Scotland but was largely imported from continental Europe and even England, where upon the outbreak of war, a frustrated Edward III made repeated attempts to halt the trade of weapons and armour across the Scottish border.

In contrast, according to Robert’s legislation, the poor, those who owned property equivalent to the cash value of a cow or less, only had to bring a spear or a bow and twenty arrows. However, a lack of evidence makes it impossible to judge the extent to which these reforms were effective in increasing the quality and armaments of such levies.

At times of emergency such as the Disinherited’s invasion, Scottish commanders could call upon both methods of recruitment to quickly raise surprisingly large forces with a core of well-equipped and disciplined soldiers. Demographic necessity and tactical lessons gleaned from the previous war had taught the Scots to fight primarily on foot, their armies organised into large formations or schiltrons of tightly packed spear-armed infantry. When used cannily, this system had proven formidable. At Bannockburn, the use of such formations had neutralised the enemy’s superiority in heavy cavalry, which proved unable to break through the tightly packed wall of spears. Then on the second day of the battle, they were used to successfully hem in the crammed and panicking English army and grind it down.

Mar’s superior numbers made him confident of victory, yet the Earn was no less an obstacle to his forces as it was to the Disinherited. Rather than risk forcing a crossing in the teeth of the enemy archers, he instead planned to dispatch flanking forces the following day and envelope the small pro-Balliol army as a way of making effective use of his superior numbers. As night gathered, Mar was content to post a guard over the now shattered bridge before sending to nearby Perth for ale and wine that was distributed liberally to the entire army.

While Mar’s host began a night of drinking and carousing, the Disinherited, well aware of the perilousness of their situation, embarked upon a daring night march. One of the Scottish members of the army, Andrew Murray, was familiar with the region and knew of a small nearby ford.  This proved to be unguarded, allowing the entire Disinherited army to cross over to the north bank of the Earn. There, in the darkness and confusion, they came across and scattered a small number of Scots who were either the guard left at the bridge or possibly even a group of camp followers trailing the main army. The Disinherited withdrew to a new position on the edge of Dupplin Moor but seem to have half believed that they had already dealt a grievous blow to the main Scottish army.

Dawn would soon relieve them of this misapprehension. Mar and his fellow Bruce adherents were, upon awakening, confused but not dismayed by the Disinherited’s nighttime redeployment. Indeed, realising they no longer had to negotiate the river or coordinate a complex series of separate attacks, the newly roused Scottish army boldly descended as one, upon their enemy. Word of the approaching attack was brought back to the Disinherited by Thomas Vesci and Ralph Stafford who, returning from their scouting mission, informed Balliol and Beaumont that the large Scottish army was not only intact but rapidly closing with them.

Wasting no time, the Disinherited effected a redeployment of their own, taking a strong defensive position at the bottom of a depression that marked the edge of the moor, the flanks of which were guarded by two small hills. The Disinherited strung their men at arms in a thin line across this depression while the archers arrayed themselves upon the slopes of the two overlooking hills. In order to prevent being outflanked and rolled up, the Disinherited’s small army had to span the entirety of the space between these two hills. As a result, their only reserve was a small force of 40 mounted German knights whose task it was to crash in and fill any gaps in the fragile battle line.

Yet even as the leading elements of the Scottish army came within sight of the rapidly repositioning Disinherited, the bad blood and rivalry that had characterised negotiations during the parliament at Perth reared its ugly head. Having seen the small size of the Disinherited army and the banners of the English lords that accompanied it, Earl Domhnall had informed his subordinates that he intended to give Balliol and Beaumont a chance to surrender. After all, only madmen would attempt to fight on when so badly outnumbered and the command echelon of the Disinherited was seeded with the well-connected nobility of northern England, men whose ransoms would bring their captors a fortune. However, this suggestion greatly angered his second in command and rival for the Guardianship, Robert Bruce, who immediately seized upon the chance to accuse Mar of treason.

The result of the blazing row that followed was that both Scottish commanders became determined to prove their loyalty and worthiness to lead by being the first to crush the Disinherited. The army had been divided into two massive schiltrons, commanded by Mar and Bruce respectively. With their commanders desperate to outdo one another, the two halves of the Scottish army began racing each other across the Moor, abandoning any hope of a coordinated attack. This haste, combined with the rough and uneven terrain of the Moor, saw both formations become increasingly disorganised and deformed. The race was won by Robert Bruce and his contingent who made first contact with the thin line of the Disinherited’s men at arms. Yet rather than delivering a concerted hammer blow to shatter the enemy line, Bruce’s now out-of-formation troops staggered or stumbled down towards their foes piecemeal.

As more and more Robert’s men arrived, the effects of this added mass began to tell and the Disinherited men at arms were inch by inch pushed back. Crucially though, the battle line remained intact. Meanwhile, the English archers positioned on the two hills on either side of this melee began raining arrows down upon Bruce’s troops. As the Disinherited line was pushed further back, it began to expose the sides of Bruce’s schiltrons to greater volumes of enfilade fire.

The Scottish army was, due to the mechanisms through which it was raised, composed of both hastily raised levies and the battle-hardened retainers and warbands of the nobility. Naturally enough, both Robert Bruce and Earl Domhnall had packed their best equipped and trained troops in the front of their formations. After all, it was these men who were most capable of going toe to toe with their similarly equipped and trained equivalents in the Disinherited army. It would be this martial elite that would chew through the thin line of Disinherited soldiers, breaking the army and putting a final end to Edward Balliol’s ambitions for the throne. Of course, this meant that the formations of more numerous less well-armoured and disciplined troops, those least equipped to withstand arrow fire, were left as the English archers’ only real target.

While the Disinherited’s men stubbornly held in the centre, the archers systemically whittled away at the schiltrons’ poorly protected flanks. As the men on the flanks began to panic, they tried to press inwards into the formation in their desperation to seek shelter from the arrows. This caused a dangerous crush which greatly impeded the combat effectiveness of the formation, the constant pressure and churn of men not only prevented fresh soldiers from reaching the front line but began to pin fighters against the enemy without the necessary space to fight effectively.

This unfolding crisis was then pushed into the realm of outright disaster by the arrival of the second half of the Scottish army and the Earl of Mar’s Schiltron. Surveying the unfolding battle, Mar could have divided his command and attacked the archers directly. The close-knit formation favoured by his troops was ill-suited to the rapid pursuit of light troops or skirmishers and it is likely that had he made the attempt, the enemy archers would have simply withdrawn further uphill and poured arrows down upon his slowly pursuing troops. As inglorious as this would have been, however, it may have given Bruce’s troops the time necessary to recover and break through the Disinherited battleline.

However, Mar was a political creature, and he had no intention of leaving the lion’s share of the glory to his rival, rather he wanted to be able to tell his fellow Scottish aristocrats that his personal intervention in the battle directly led to a swift and decisive victory. Mar was almost certainly unaware of just how much danger the men of Bruce’s battle formation were in, to him it must have seemed like the impossibly thin line of enemy combatants could not help but break and scatter should he throw the full weight of his forces into the melee. So, he did just that. Hurrying downhill, Mar’s men crashed into their comrades, exacerbating the existing crush to the point of deadliness. A situation that only got worse as the flanks of Mar’s formation also came under attack by archers.

Perhaps as many as a thousand of Mar’s soldiers died in the crush, suffocated or trod under heel by their fellows as they passed out or lost their footing. In the end, the army was routed leaving behind heaps of the dead and broken. The exact number of Scottish casualties were as difficult to estimate as the size of the army, although they were surely high.

Amongst the most prominent casualties were the Guardian of Scotland, Earl Domhnall of Mar, his rival Robert Bruce of Liddesdale, Earl Muireadhach Stewart of Menteith and Earl Thomas Randolph of Moray, the former guardian’s son. Slain alongside around ten or twelve Scottish Barons.

Earl Donnchadh of Fife, now bested by the Disinherited for the second time within a week, surrendered and formally swore loyalty to Edward Balliol. The losses amongst the Bruce-aligned Scottish leadership represented a serious blow to their cause and endangered their ability to wage a coordinated campaign of resistance against Edward Balliol and his now swollen following. Indeed, later phases of the war would largely forgo the kind of large mustering’s of troops that preceded the Battle of Dupplin and instead focused on smaller skirmishes and raids meant to contest Balliol control of Scotland at a regional level. In contrast, we are told only thirty-five of the Disinherited’s men at arms were killed. Through canny positioning, the hard-won experience of Henry de Beaumont, the power of the longbow and a healthy dose of hubris on their enemies’ part, the Disinherited had triumphed over almost impossible odds.

The Disinherited’s victory at Dupplin Moor was so unlikely that as word spread of it throughout Scotland so did rumours that such a triumph against such long odds could only be seen as a sign of divine favour for Edward Balliol’s candidacy. Large segments of the region’s nobility and crucially almost all of Scotland’s bishops flocked to join Edwards’ impromptu court. With Mar’s army defeated the Disinherited were able to occupy Perth without further resistance and from there stage a hasty coronation for Edward Balliol. The war for control of Scotland was far from over. But for the long-exiled lords of the Disinherited the Battle of Dupplin Moor marked a homecoming to remember.

James Turner has recently completed his doctoral studies at Durham University before which he attended the University of Glasgow. Deeply afraid of numbers and distrustful of counting, his main research interests surround medieval aristocratic culture and identity. You can follow James on X/Twitter @HistorySchmstry

Click here to read more from James Turner

Top Image: Bodleian Library Christ Church MS 92 fol. 66r