Battle of Sauchieburn
Part of second rebellion against James III
Date June 11, 1488
Location south of Stirling
56°04′N 3°55′W / 56.067, -3.917Coordinates: 56°04′N 3°55′W / 56.067, -3.917
Result Decisive rebel victory
royalists rebels
Commanders and leaders
James III of Scotland
Alexander Cunningham, 1st Earl of Glencairn
Malise Graham, 1st Earl of Menteith
David Lindsay, 1st Duke of Montrose
Alexander Home, 1st Lord Home
Archibald Douglas, 5th Earl of Angus
James, Duke of Rothesay
Unknown Unknown
Casualties and losses
Unknown, but higher than the rebels Low

The Battle of Sauchieburn was fought on June 11, 1488, at the side of Sauchie Burn, a stream about two miles south of Stirling, Scotland. [1]

The battle was fought between the followers of King James III of Scotland and a large group of rebellious Scottish nobles including Alexander Home, 1st Lord Home, nominally led by the king's 15-year-old son, Prince James, Duke of Rothesay.

Father and son

James III had faced rebellion for months, with a complicated series of events leading to Sauchieburn. The rebels having made Prince James their figurehead earlier in the year, James III became determined to get hold of his son and settle the matter. However he broke his written word that he would negotiate first, instead travelling south to Edinburgh from his stronghold in the north. This breaking of his word apparently caused some of his strong supporters to desert him, such as Huntly, Erroll, Marishal and Glamis; they adopted a neutral stance on the issues.[2] In May, James crossed the river to use Blackness as a base, with the prince at Linlithgow. However attempts to reach the prince at Linlithgow were defeated in a small skirmish, and James was forced back to Blackness, from where he fled, leaving behind those he had given as hostages to the rebels. By the 16th of May he was back in Edinburgh, and began spreading money around to raise supporters, including to his half uncle, John Stewart, 1st Earl of Atholl. At this point the rebels were geographically split, some at Stirling, some at Linlithgow. James again took the initiative with a sudden move over to Fife with his supporters and their men, advancing on Stirling, where on the 10th of June he took the rebels by surprise, driving them southwards. This left James with the town of Stirling, perhaps not the castle, from where he advanced on the 11th of June to meet the combined forces of the rebels driven from Stirling and those who had come from Linlithgow in support. To aid him in battle he had the sword of Robert the Bruce with him; Dr John Ireland heard the Kings confession, his army was arrayed by the advocate John Ross of Montgrenan and battle began.

The battle went badly for the Royalists. Persistent legends, based on the highly coloured and unreliable accounts of sixteenth century chroniclers such as Adam Abell, Robert Lindsay of Pitscottie, John Lesley, and George Buchanan, claim that James III was assassinated at Milltown,[3] near Bannockburn, soon after the battle. There is no contemporary evidence to support this account, nor the allegation that he fled the battle, nor the tale that his assassin impersonated a priest in order to approach James.

Pitscottie provided a story that, on the eve of the battle, his ancestor David Lord Lindsay of the Byres presented James III with a "great grey horse" that would carry him faster than any other horse into or away from the battle. Unfortunately, the horse threw the King during the battle, and James III was either killed in the fall, or was finished off by enemy soldiers.[4]

Prince James ascended to the throne, and reigned as James IV for 25 years. Throughout his reign he wore a heavy iron chain around his waist, next to the skin, as a constant reminder of his role in the death of his father.

The battlefield is currently under research to be inventoried and protected by Historic Scotland under the Scottish Historical Environment Policy of 2009.[5]


  • Norman MacDougall James III, (John Donald Publishers Ltd (5 Feb 1982))
  • John Prebble The Lion in the North


Some of the participants in the Battle of Sauchieburn included:

  • Royalists:
    • Alexander Cunningham, 1st Earl of Glencairn, slain in the battle;
    • Malise Graham, 1st Earl of Menteith;
    • David Lindsay, 1st Duke of Montrose;
    • Lord Erskine;
    • Lord Graham;
    • Lord Maxwell;
    • Lord Ruthven;
    • David Lindsay, 2nd Lord Lindsay who, in a later chronicle account, gave James III the horse that threw him;
    • Sir Thomas Sempill of Eliotston, Sherriff of Renfrew, killed in battle;[6]
    • Roger Grierson I of Lag, Fatally wounded
    • The troops were largely from Scotland's northern counties, plus some burgh levies.
  • Rebels:
    • Alexander Home, 1st Lord Home;
    • Archibald Douglas, 5th Earl of Angus;
    • Patrick Hepburn, 1st Earl of Bothwell;
    • Lord Gray;
    • The troops were largely from East Lothian, the Merse, Galloway, and the border counties.

External links


  1. ^ map of Battle area at :
  2. ^ Macdougall, Norman, James III, John Donald (2009), page 338
  3. ^ Recent archaeological survey of Milton, alleged site of assassination
  4. ^ Macdougall, Norman, James III, John Donald (1982), pp.261-2
  5. ^ "Inventory battlefields". Historic Scotland. Retrieved 2012-04-12. 
  6. ^ Macdougall, James IV, (1997), 85

This page uses content from the English language Wikipedia. The original content was at Battle of Sauchieburn. The list of authors can be seen in the page history. As with this Familypedia wiki, the content of Wikipedia is available under the Creative Commons License.


 FatherMotherDeath dateAge at death
John Elphinstone (-1488)Henry Elphinstone (-bef1496)11 June 1488 JL
James III of Scotland (c1451-1488)James II of Scotland (1430-1460)Mary of Guelders (c1434-1463)11 June 1488 JL
Battle of Sauchieburn military event 2