After a failed negotiation with the Scottish king, in October 1542 Henry VIII sent an English army some 20,000 into Scotland, where they burnt Kelso and Roxburgh. In reply, James V of Scotland raised an army of some 18,000 troops in the west and headed for Carlisle, but was defeated in November at Solway Moss by a much smaller English force. After the death of James V, Henry aimed to unify the two kingdoms by seeking the marriage of the one-year-old Scottish Queen Mary to his own son, Prince Edward. When his proposals failed he pursued the matter through force of arms – the so-called ‘rough wooing’.
As part of this campaign, in February 1545 two of Henry’s northern commanders, Euer and Laiton, again crossed the border, this time with some 5000 troops. The army plundered Melrose town and abbey, then returned towards Jedburgh. In response, the Earl of Angus raised local forces. At first, outnumbered, he manoeuvred but would not engage the invaders. Once joined by other forces, including the Earl of Aran, he had more than 1200 troops. The Scots now considered their army strong enough to act and at Ancrum Moor, they totally defeated the far larger English army.