Alnwick is an ancient walled-town, and a formerly important centre of the English East March. It is the site of Alnwick Castle, home of the Percy family, who were Earls of Northumberland
and often Wardens of the East March. Situated in ‘the heart of Northumberland’, sandwiched between the coast and the border, it was, in 1093, the site of a terrible defeat for an invading Scottish force.
In the 11th century, at the time during which William Rufus, William II of England came to power, ontrol of northern Northumbria was still an open question. Rufus of course wished the region for himself, and for the crown of England. Malcolm III of Scotland (known later as ‘Malcolm Canmore’), however, evidently had designs of his own. Following a failed invasion in 1091, Malcolm III led another invasion force from Scotland, south into Northumbria, in the year of 1093. There, he laid siege to the strategic town of Alnwick. Robert de Mowbray, Earl of Northumbria, did not have sufficient manpower to face the Scots in open battle, but set out to relieve Alnwick all the same. Catching the Scottish force unaware, he managed to defeat them in battle, killing both King Malcolm III and his son Edward in the process. Left leaderless, the Scottish army (doubtlessly comprising many Borderers) were routed, and forced to retreat back north. Malcolm’s death, along with that of his son, created a power vacuum in Scotland; the lack of a strong, undisputed king a situation which greatly suited William Rufus of England.