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Coordinates: 54°56′46″N 1°26′10″W / 54.946°N 1.436°W / 54.946; -1.436

The Battle of Boldon Hill was a skirmish fought during the English Civil War in March 1644, between a Royalist army attempting to bring the army of the Scottish Covenanters to battle.

The Scots, having unsuccessfully attacked Newcastle upon Tyne, crossed the River Tyne higher upstream and attempted an attack against the defences on the southern end of the bridge over the river, which led directly into the city. With this attack, the Scottish commander Alexander Leslie, 1st Earl of Leven entered Sunderland several miles to the south, as the town had declared for Parliament.

The Marquess of Newcastle-upon-Tyne led his army out of Newcastle in pursuit of the marauding Scots. The two sides met south of Sunderland at Penshaw Hill, but bad weather made a battle impossible. The Marquess retreated into the Royalist stronghold of Durham and the Scots returned to Sunderland.

In the following days, Leven made raids on Chester-le-Street, a vital crossing point of the River Wear and crucial to the Marquess of Newcastle upon Tyne's communications with the rest of England, and also on the Royalist garrison at South Shields. Whilst initial attempts at a raid failed, the second raids of 20 March were successful for Leven.

In response to this, the Marquess led his army out of Durham towards Sunderland. On the morning of 25 March, the Scots occupied Cleadon Hills and the Royalists took Boldon Hill. The present day village of East Boldon lies between these two hills. Neither side could see an advantage and were hesitant to engage with one another. However, the two sides exchanged cannon fire and men lay dead in the valley. Shortly after this skirmish, news reached the Marquis of a major defeat for the Royalists at Selby, directly threatening York and his communications with the King.

Later that year, the Royalist Army was soundly beaten at the Battle of Marston Moor near York, effectively ending Royalist control of northern England.


  • Newman, P. R. (1998). Atlas of the English Civil War. London: Routledge.
  • Reed, Stuart (1999). Scots Armies of the English Civil War. London: Osprey.
  • Terry, Charles Sanford (1899). The Life and Campaigns of Alexander Leslie, First Earl of Leven. London: Longmans.

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