The Battle of Otterburn


I saw a dead man win a fight
And I think that man was I.

The ballad The Battle of Otterburn reflects the fact that the battle was a disaster for both Scots and English: the English were defeated and their leaders captured, but the Scottish leader was killed. In re-telling the story of this famous battle I have drawn upon the ancient sources, including Froissart, whose contemporary account of the battle is fascinating as much for the mediaeval attitudes it displays as for the recounting of the struggle.

Unlike the freezing January day when this film was made, it must have been quite pleasant to lie out on the hillside on a warm summer's evening in 1388 and watch the stars revolving peacefully overhead. What a contrast with the awful carnage that was so quickly to stain the hillside with red and leave more than two thousand hacked and hewn corpses littering the grass.