As a consequence of the French army's defeat at the Battle of Crécy, during the Hundred Years War, King Philip VI of France appealed to his friend and ally King David II of Scotland to come to his aid by launching an attack on Northern England. In response King David personally led a Scots army of over 12,000 men southwards with intention of capturing Durham. In reply, a English army, of 5,000 men, moved northwards from Yorkshire to confront the Scots.

On the morning of 17 October 1346, the Scots army was decisively defeated, and David was captured.

King David was brought to England and imprisoned in the Tower of London for eleven years, finally being released for a ransom of 100,000 marks.