Recently I was in North Yorkshire and by the A167 near Northallerton I came across a monument to a battle fought in 1138 that was called the "Battle of the Standard."
The Battle had been the first major clash between England and Scotland for some 200 years. Yet it had been an "unusual" clash which had more to do with "internal English politics" than any "enmity between the two kingdoms" (Matthews 2003).
In 1135 King Henry I of England had died. The Crown was left to his daughter Matilda. But in the event power was seized by King Henry's nephew, Count Stephen of Blois.
Matilda had support though, including from her maternal uncle, King David I of Scotland. In 1138 King David decided to launch a full scale invasion with up to 25,000 men.
Stephen was preoccupied with rebel barons in the south. So it was left to Archbishop Thurston of York and his priests to raise local militias in the north. Thurston revelled in this task. To fight the Scottish was "to do God's work" he said.
Thurston also organised the construction of THE STANDARD. It consisted of a "large wagon pulled by an oxen on which was mounted a ship's mast." This would be used as a rallying point and it would give its' name to the Battle (Matthews 2003).
The battle itself took place on 22 August 1138 at Cowton Moor, just north of Northallerton. There the English took up position on the crest of a hill. The Scots, attacking uphill, came under the withering fire of English archers. Thousands died.
David, conceding defeat, had to withdraw. Back in Carlisle he regrouped and -despite having lost the battle- was able, within a month, to negotiate a "very favourable truce" (Ibbotson 2009).