Bannockburn and After

This rag tag army moved untidily, arriving at Myton on 20th September 1319. The Scots were delighted at the sight of such a shambles of a force sent against them and were mainly concerned that the English would scatter before they could be brought to battle. To hide their strength, the Scots fired a number of haystacks to obscure the English view of their opponents. Puzzled and unnerved by these events, the English moved through the smoke only to come face to face with the Scots, who, uttering bloodthirsty shouts charged.

This was too much for the poorly armed and untrained English who began to flee, but had failed to secure their line of retreat over the River Swale. Scottish hobelars galloped to cut of the only escape route over a bridge and many of the English (reckoned at 1,000) drowned trying to swim the river. The slaughter continued till dark with a reputed death toll of a further 3,000 with minimal losses to the Scots.

The defeat is described in The Brut Chronicle, written some hundred years after the battle and notes, “Alas! what sorrow, for the English husbandmen that knew nothing of war”, and goes on, “And when the great host had met, the Englishmen almost all were slain”.

This disaster was a further blow to Edward’s standing and resulted in raising the siege of Berwick and eventually agreeing to a two year truce. Edward paid lip service to the truce but allowed privateers to attack Flemish vessels trading with Scotland. The privateers would steal the cargo and kill any Scots found on board and matters worsened when privateers captured the Pelarym carrying a cargo worth £2,000 and all the Scots on board, including women, children and pilgrims were massacred. Bruce demanded justice and when his demands were ignored, he reopened negotiations with France, reforging the Auld Alliance at a meeting at Corbeil on 26th April 1326 and agreeing mutual military support to each other against the English enemy.

About The Author

Since his retirement Jim Keys has indulged his passion for history, writing two books on Britain’s past: The Dark Ages and The Bloody Crown. He is currently writing the last of the trilogy, Fighting Brits which covers Britain’s military struggles from the Armada to Afghanistan. Read more about Jim »