How many times has Scotland invaded England?

Scotland (though really Pictland at the time) didn't come into existence until the reign of Kenneth MacAlpine in 832 and England wasn't really founded until 923 by Athelstan. Inhabitants of the two territories had been invading and fighting each other for centuries before that under various political and tribal names though.

Starting from 923...

  1. We have a battle at Alnwick in Northumberland in 1093 when Malcolm Canmore tried to take Northumbria and Cumbria from William II.
  2. King David of Scotland invaded in 1138.
  3. William of Scotland invaded again in 1174 and got captured at the second Battle of Alnwick, which resulted in his being forced to swear fealty to the King of England, Henry II, though Henry's actual control of Scotland was limited to a few castles.
  4. Robert the Bruce invaded Cumbria in 1315, and recaptured Berwick in 1318 (having lost it to the English earlier in the same war). There was also fighting in Wearside and Yorkshire.
  5. Another invasion in 1335 resulted in a battle in Durham.
  6. Invaded Cumbria again in 1388
  7. Invaded Cumbria again in 1402
  8. Invaded Northumberland in 1436

EDIT: Thanks to Steve Jones for telling me I forgot one, and pretty important one at that.

9. In 1513 James IV invaded England in honour of the ‘Auld Alliance' with France as the newly crowned Henry VIII was fighting the French again, and he deemed that his treaty with Henry's father had lapsed due to the change of monarch. They did very well at first, overrunning Northumberland, but it all came unstuck at Flodden when the Scots army was decisively beaten and James became the last British monarch to die in battle.

The sixteenth century was the heyday of the Border Reivers and hardly a year went by without some bunch of border clansmen going on a cattle and sheep stealing raid. This were as common from the English side as the Scots, but since they were more in the interests of theft and committed without the permission of the respective monarchs they don't really count as invasions.

After 1603 England and Scotland had the same monarch but were still separate countries, but there was still a certain amount of armed conflict where Scots fought English on English territory.

10. The Bishops War of 1640 involved a Scottish Covenanter occupation of Northumberland. The ensuing First Civil War saw Scots allied with the English Parliament operating on English soil against their mutual King.

11. The Second Civil War of 1648-9 where Scots Covenanters, this time supporting Charles I, invaded again.

12. The Third Civil war of 1649-50 where the Scots hailed Charles II as King and followed him south into Commonwealth England yet again, getting as far as Worcester before being defeated.

During the Commonwealth Scotland ceased to exist as a separate state, with MPs sent to Westminster. They got their parliament back with the Restoration of Charles II in 1660, and the Kingdoms officially merged again in 1707 to become the Kingdom of Great Britain.

The Jacobite rebellion of 1715 was not really a Scottish invasion as no Scots made it across the border, but there were English Jacobite risings in some English cities.

13. The Jacobite Rebellion of 1745 made it as far as Derby before they realised that they were getting next to no support for Bonnie Prince Charlie from the English and if they made it to London they stood no chance of taking it, let alone holding it.

So I make it thirteen.


Old English legends tell a few good stories and one or two occurred in Thanet. England's been an accommodating lot, in history. Post Roman occupation (I think the Romans left around 407 CE), settlers were also invited, saving them the trouble of invasion.

At the beginning of the 5th century, Roman-British Vortigern is said to have been coping with Irish and Pict invaders on northern and western frontiers and Germanic raiders on his eastern coasts.

There was also a challenge from Ambrosius and his Gallic allies. So Vortigern invited Saxons in to London.

However, their commanders Hengist and Horsa exploited Vortigern's position and took the opportunity to bring in more Saxons. To pay those warriors, it was agreed they should they be given lands in Kent. A legend but nonetheless amusing.

Much later, during John's 13th century reign and at a time when we were more disposed to the French, rebel Barons invited the French to England in around 1215. Louis at first sent a few Knights in a token support which quickly escalated to an invasion during 1216. Once French ships were sighted off Kent, John scurried off to Winchester for a short while and later left. Once he was out of the way, Louis had himself proclaimed King (not crowned) and occupied London while enjoying rebel Barons' and citizens' support.

When the French later got greedy and decided to take a lot more ground, they met their match at places like Dover Castle and Windsor.

 William Marshal, the Treaty of Lambent and the French weren't for very long because by autumn 1217 they'd given up their claims ( at a price) and gone home. Bit of a potted history and there's more to it all and more battles, sieges and castles than you can shake a stick at.

William III invasion was really an invasion, in spite of internal support for him. Officially, the country was in war with William, and both the Army and the Navy were mobilized to avoid it. The Navy tried to block the invasion, and the Army sustained skirmishes with the invading force.

 If all of these English actors understood that William was better king than James, and finally stopped opposition, that's another issue.

Another two invasions to conquer the throne took place in the Middle Ages:
One in charge of an Englishwoman, Empress Matilda, in 1139, coming from France.

The other is a very similar one to William III action:
Prince Louis of France was invited by English Barons to seize the crown. He invaded with a French army in 1215, and was close to achieve the victory. But in this case, the barons finally rejected their support.

Other invasions without intention of taking power took place:
The most important was the Castilian-French attack on England during the Hundred Years War, in the 1370-80 years.  The southern coast English cities were burnt down, including the major ones

Does Guernsey count? Louis XIV tried to invade there in 1704, unsuccessfully.
And Medway 1667 of course though that wasn't an invasion really so much as a raid.

The Scots took time off from fighting their age-old enemies, they have been remarkably effective raiders, causing no end of trouble along the borders with England.

That's more or less an historical constant and goes in both directions. Scotland has never had the wealth or resources to mount large-scale invasions of its neighbors on a regular basis, but when they did, they made it count.

Large scale military incursions include King Alexander II's siege of Dover Castle in 1216, after first sacking Berwick. He was 17 years old at that time.

And Bonnie Prince Charlie led a Jacobite Army (mainly composed of Highlanders and some Irish) as far south as Derby in 1745, but retreated when he was informed of a Government army blocking his path to London - this was later found to be a ruse, as there was no army, he could have made it to London if he'd wanted to.

Scots were never pure, wee, defenseless folk, but I think that we've lost sight of the fact that while the English have been a constant threatening and often actively hostile presence, the worst things ever done to the Scots have been done to them by other Scots.


The last invasion of Britain occurred in February 1797 in Wales by the French. But, being French, they were quickly defeated by the local women and, of course, eventually surrendered (to this day, the French insist on using the pathetic excuse that, because the women were dressed in red, they thought the women were British soldiers). The French thought it wise to get drunk whilst trying to invade a country, but they were so blathered that not only the women, but most of the other locals, fought and defeated them.

 It probably ranks as the most pathetic invasion attempt of all eternity.
 It was engineered by French troops (reportedly partly made up of 600 convicts) who planned it as a diversion to draw the British army away from Ireland, where the French planned a major attack.

 1400 French soldiers, led by an American, Colonel William Tate, landed at Carreg Wastad (Welsh for "Flat Rock"), near Fishguard, Pembroke shire, in south west Wales. A retired sailor raised the alarm. The French then began their destruction by pillaging farms for chickens and skirmishing with local people. They were soon drunk enough to became easy prey for the local people who attacked them with homemade weapons.

 Hearing the ticking of a grandfather clock, a French soldier fired at it-the clock with the bullet hole still exists. The Pembroke Yeomanry, hearing of the attack, marched from Stackpole Court to engage the enemy. The French, demoralized when their ships, for some reason, not-very-bravely sailed away without them, surrendered on Goodwick Sands on the third day.

 Local legend says it was the Welsh women, with their red cloaks and black hats that saved the day. The French thought they were surrendering to British grenadiers (or so they say).  The prisoners were held in Haverford west, then in Portsmouth, then returned to France. A stone monument now marks the spot where the French landed. You can take a walk there-follow directions to the Carreg Wastad Point.

Also the Spanish landed in Cornwall and burnt down the villages in that area & the German Navy also, made some landing in England during the World War I.
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