Battle of Aberdeen (1644)

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For the storming of Aberdeen by Marquis of Huntly's forces on 14 May 1646, see Battle of Aberdeen (1646).
Battle of Aberdeen
Part of Wars of the Three Kingdoms
Date 13 September 1644
Location Aberdeen, Scotland
Result Royalist Victory
Royalist Irish
Highland Scots
Parliamentarian Scots Covenanters
Commanders and leaders
Lord Montrose
Alasdair MacColla
James Hay
Sir Nathaniel Gordon
Sir William Rollock
Lord Burleigh
Lord Lewis Gordon
Forbes of Craigievar
Forbes of Boyndlie
1,500 foot, 44 horse (cavalry) 2,500 foot, 500 horse
Casualties and losses
Light 160

The Battle of Aberdeen was an engagement in the Wars of the Three Kingdoms which took place between Royalist and Covenanter forces outside the city of Aberdeen on 13 September 1644.[a]


After defeating Lord Elcho's forces at the Battle of Tippermuir, outside Perth, Montrose's forces had captured a large cache of weapons and munitions, but had not captured Perth, and had suffered the desertion of the highland forces under his command, leaving a force of around 1,000 Irish infantry under Alasdair MacColla and 44 horse from the Earl of Newcastle.

Montrose led these men on a rapid advance on Aberdeen, the main Covenanter sea port in Scotland, picking up a force of around 500 highlanders on the way. After a diversion to avoid being forced to take a fortified bridge over the River Dee, they reached Aberdeen on 12 September.


On the morning of the 12 September 1644, the Covenanter force under Lord Burleigh marched out of the town to meet the attackers. The Royalists sent a messenger and drummer under a flag of truce to demand the surrender of the city. Aberdeen's chief citizens and guild leaders received this ultimatum near the present day site of Justice Mill Lane. They rejected this demand. Some Covenanters fired on the Royalist party, killing the drummer. Montrose was so angered by this that he immediately ordered an attack and issued the order not to spare any of the enemy.

The Battle took place at "Two Mile Cross", near the present site of the retail park at Brig' o' Dee. Montrose drew up an extended line of men, to prevent being out-flanked and placed a small group of horsemen at each end "otherwise, if they would disobey, that then he desired them to remove old aged men, women, and children out of the way, and to stand to their own peril". The battle began with a cannonade from the Covenanters field guns.

Lord Gordon on the Covenanters left wing attacked with his cavalry. Montrose moved his horse to assist on the right flank, and this small group of 44 horsemen repulsed and routed the Covenanter attack. Montrose quickly ordered these horsemen back into the line as they were now needed on the left where the battle was developing. Sweeping across to the other side of the field, they attacked the flanks of the Covenanters forces and forced them to flee.

Montrose then ordered an infantry attack up the centre, routing the Covenanters who started fleeing back towards the town. Lord Burleigh's 2,500 defenders were soon overwhelmed - 160 men were killed. The Irish and Highland troops then looted the town and neighbouring villages.


Montrose remained in Aberdeen for three days, before leaving for Rothiemurchus in the Highlands to recruit new men and avoid a confrontation with the approaching Parliamentarian force under the Marquess of Argyll.


  1. ^ The battlefield was assessed to be inventoried and protected by Historic Scotland under the Scottish Historical Environment Policy of 2009, but it failed to meet one or more of the criteria.[1]
  1. ^ Inventory battlefields, Historic Scotland, retrieved August 2013 


  • Brown, Chris (2002), The Battle of Aberdeen, 1645, Stroud, UK: Tempus Publishing, ISBN 0-7524-2340-1 
  • The Battlefields Trust; Fletcher, Craig; Jones, Christopher (2004), Battle of Aberdeen II, The Battlefields Trust website, retrieved August 2013 

Further reading[edit]

Coordinates: 57°08′28″N 2°06′24″W / 57.14101°N 2.10668°W / 57.14101; -2.10668