There wew two varieties of Scottish Kings: those who were crowned as infants and those who ascended the throne as relatively elderly men. The first Stuart king, Robert II, fell into the latter category, ascending the throne aged 54 in 1371 upon the death of King David II. Robert's priority was to secure the succession for his eldest son, in doing so he renewed the alliance with France, and that meant only one thing - war with England.
The hostilities between England & Scotland lead to a lawless zone along the frontier - so that raid & counter-raid could be carried on without causing any 'problems' to either Crown.
Richard II of England was more than happy for the House of Percy to represent his interests (and bear the expense) in the border area, very much as the Clan Douglas was encouraged to do on the Scottish side of the border by Robert II.
In 1385, the Scots appeared to be on the back foot so the French sent a number of knights and supplies to bolster the flagging Scots. The Scots did not welcome the French as expected, and their style of warfare was much different to the 'ethical' style pursued accoring to the French code of chivalry. When the French returned home, having been treated poorly by the Scots throughout their stay, they were no doubt amazed to receive a bill for the cost of their food & lodgings.
Low-level hostilities continued until Summer 1388, when James, 2nd Earl Douglas, amassed an army in Jedforest just on the Scottish side of the border. Douglas' plan of campaign was much assisted by the capture of an informant, who revealed that whichever route to England Douglas didn't take to invade England (Liddesdale or Redesdale), the English would counterattack along it.
Douglas accordingly divided his army and sent the larger part via Liddesdale toward Carlisle under the control of Sir William Douglas, and took his own command of around 6,000 down Redesdale toward Newcastle.
The "Redesdale" raid proved to be a great success (for the Scots) with his compact army crossing the Tyne at Corbridge and reaching as far south as Brancepeth near Durham City. A few days later (after the customary pillaging) the Earl returned northwards pausing only to attack the city of Newcastle.
Newcastle was stoutly defended by Henry (Hotspur) Percy & Sir Ralph Percy (Henry's brother), and Douglas withdrew having captured Hotspur's standard. With this prize Douglas set off for the border only halting briefly to sack the pele tower at Ponteland. The evening of August 18th 1388 found Douglas camped at Greenchesters - about a mile from present day Otterburn.
Hotspur must have been well informed of the movements & whereabouts of the invasion force, because on August 19th - in the early afternoon, he left the gates of Newcastle at the head of a force of around 8,000 men including his brother - Sir Ralph, Sir Robert & Sir Thomas Umfraville and Sir Thomas Gray. A forced march of 32 miles brought them to the Scottish camp near Otterburn
Hotspur arrived on the scene toward evening on August 19th. A detachment under Umfravilles' command was ordered to work it's way around to the north of the Scottish postion, while Hotspur with the main body made a frontal assault. To his consternation he found himself to be attacking a campsite of servants, attendants and camp followers. Douglas, it was afterwards suspected, had planted them in the direct (and only) line of approach to that in the event of attack, his fighting men had time to don their armour and not be caught unawares.
This plan worked, because with the English busily slaughtering the non-combattants, the Scottish knights readied themselves for combat.
Douglas and his forces took to the high ground, north of his camp, and missing the Umfravilles (who had taken too wide a sweep), he managed to manoeuvre into a postion where he could attack Percy's right flank. The tired and hungry English, weakened by a forced march were pushed back towards Otterburn.
By this time the Umfravilles had arrived in the camp and found it almost completely deserted. Their cause not being assisted at all by the fact that night had fallen and the moonlight being partially obscured.
Eventually the Umfraville force joined with the Percy force again and a charge was mounted on the Douglas standard. Hotspur fought his way toward it believing that to be the place most likely to find Douglas himself.
Legend has it that Hotspur slew Douglas with his own hand. However both Hotspur and his borther, Sir Ralph, were captured and according to the Scots, Hotspur was persuaded to surrender to a bush behind which the corpse of Douglas lay.
The cross you see today is neither the original monumnet nor in it's original location. It stands around 200 yards from it's original position and was rebuilt in the 1770s when the Redewater Turnpike (now the A696 that you see today) was built.