Ageing and associated skeletal diseases pose a significant challenge for health care systems worldwide. Age-related fractures have a serious impact on personal, social and economic wellbeing. A significant proportion of physiological loading is carried by the cortical shell. Its role in the fracture resistance and strength of whole bones in the ageing skeleton is of utmost importance. Even though a large body of knowledge has been accumulated on this topic on the macroscale, the underlying micromechanical material behaviour and the scale transition of bone’s mechanical properties are yet to be uncovered. Therefore, this review aims at providing an overview of the state-of-the-art of the post-yield and failure properties of cortical bone at the extracellular matrix and the tissue level.