Battle of Carham

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Battle of Carham
Date 1018 or 1016
Location River Tweed
Result Scottish victory
Kingdom of England Kingdom of Scotland Kingdom of Strathclyde
Commanders and leaders
Huctred, son of Waldef Máel Coluim mac Cináeda Owain the Bald

The Battle of Carham was a battle between the Kingdom of Scotland and the Northumbrians at Carham on Tweed in 1018 or possibly 1016. Astronomical events referred to in accounts of the battle would indicate 1016, rather than 1018 as the correct date. It is also sometimes known as the Battle of Coldstream, from the town of Coldstream. The battle was a victory for Máel Coluim (II) mac Cináeda described as 'Malcolm son of Cyneth, king of Scots' and Owain the Bald, King of Strathclyde over 'Huctred, son of Waldef, earl of the Northumbrians', as he was described by Symeon of Durham.

The importance of the battle is a matter of controversy, especially in regard to the region of Lothian. Whereas Scottish historians hold that Lothian was won for Scotland at Carham, others led by Marjorie O. Anderson hold it was the English king Edgar the Peaceful who granted Lothian to Cináed (II) mac Maíl Coluim, King of Scots, in 973. In English sources, the Battle of Carham is not given any special significance.[1] Still others, such as G.W.S. Barrow hold, that "What English annalists recorded as the 'cession' of Lothian was... the recognition by a powerful but extremely remote south-country king of a long-standing fait accompli."[1]

This possession by the Scots of what now constitutes the south-east of Scotland seems to have been recognized by kings of England, even when kings such as Cnut and William the Conqueror invaded, as they did not seek to take permanent control of the area.

After Carham, much of present-day Scotland was under the control of the King of Scots, although Norsemen still held sway in Ross, Caithness, Sutherland, and The Isles. The Lords of Galloway remained semi-independent. Scotland or Scotia referred to what constitutes present-day Scotland north of the Forth and Clyde; it was not until the time of King Dabíd (I) mac Maíl Choluim that people in the south-east of the kingdom began to think of themselves as Scots. In his own charters (e.g. to St Cuthbert's in Edinburgh), he continued to refer to the men of Lothian as English.


  1. ^ a b G.W.S. Barrow

Coordinates: 55°38′13″N 2°19′15″W / 55.63694°N 2.32083°W / 55.63694; -2.32083