The Battle of DornoThe Battle of Dornock, 1333
The Battle of Dornock was a minor engagement between England and
Scotland, fought on the western border on 25 March 1333 at the
outset of the second of the Wars of Scottish Independence. The Scots
were defeated in what was later viewed as a foretaste of the much
greater disaster at the Battle of Halidon
By the beginning of 1333 Scotland and England were
moving ever closer to open war. The previous year a group of
Anglo-Scottish lords, known as the disinherited, had defeated and
killed Donald, Earl of Mar, the Guardian of Scotland, at the
Battle of Dupplin Moor. However, with
very limited support in Scotland, the disinherited were soon driven
from the country. Their leader Edward Balliol, a pretender to the
Scottish throne, was forced to flee for his life when intercepted by
a party acting for David II, the underage king. Balliol now made
appeals to the English king, Edward III for direct aid, promising
large tracts of Scottish land in return. For Edward, who had hated
the terms of the 1328 peace with Scotland established by the Treaty
of Northampton, the opportunity was too good to pass up. Balliol was
given permission to raise fresh forces, while the king himself
prepared to join the struggle.
In Scotland Donald of Mar was
replaced as Guardian by Archibald Douglas, the brother of
Sir James Douglas, also known as
the Black Douglas, who had been one of King Robert Bruce's leading
commanders. It was not a good choice, as time was to show, for
Archibald had little in the way of soldierly skills. He faced his
first great test in March 1333, when Edward Balliol crossed the
border with a large armed force, laying siege to the important port
of Berwick-upon-Tweed on the eastern march. In 1319, in responding
to a previous English attack on Berwick, Archibald's brother had led
a large Scottish force into Yorkshire and to victory at the Battle
of Myton. As a consequence the siege was abandoned. The Guardian,
perhaps hoping to imitate this famous episode, launched his own
cross-border attack in the west on 22 March into Cumberland,
harrying Gilsland. Not only did this fail to have any impact at all
on the situation in the east, but it also provided Edward with
justification, if any more was needed, for his own military
preparations. Most serious of all it provoked a retaliatory raid,
leading to the first reverse suffered by the Scots in the new war.
Chief among those affected by the Gilsland raid was Sir Ralph
Dacre, Lord of Naworth and Keeper of Carlisle Castle. Two days after
Douglas recrossed the border, Dacre, together with Sir Anthony Lucy,
led a large party of English raiders into Dumfriesshire. They were
accompanied by one William of Lochmaben, possibly a renegade Scot,
the whole force-800 strong according to one source- advancing some
twelve miles inland, looting and robbing on the way. The object of
the raid seems to have been little more than one of simple
reparation; for no sooner had enough cattle been collected than the
English turned south, intending to cross the Solway by the ford at
News of the incursion reached
then under the command of
William Douglas, afterwards known as the Knight of Liddesdale.
Douglas, accompanied by several local knights, including Sir
Humphrey Boys and Sir Humphrey Jardine-amusingly miscalled 'Sardyne'
in one contemporary account-set off in pursuit. In all he had some
50 men, which either suggests that the English force was far smaller
than claimed, or that the venture showed more of valour than good
sense. They were all referred to by the chronicler of Lanercost as
'solemn malefactors'. On 25 March the 'malefactors' intercepted
their enemy, laden with booty, at Dornock. Without pausing the
Scots, in the words of the chronicler, fell with one accord upon the
person of Sir Anthony. The contest seems to have concluded in a
remarkably short time. Boys and Jardine were killed along with some
24 men-at-arms. William Douglas was taken prisoner, as the rest of
his party were driven off. On the English side only two squires are
said to have fallen. Sir Anthony was badly wounded in the foot, eye
and hand, but afterwards recovered.
Douglas was an important
prisoner, and King Edward himself wrote to Dacre instructing that he
and William Barde, another captive, should be kept safely ironed and
in prison. Douglas was to remain in captivity for two years. Andrew
Wyntoun, a Scottish chronicler, later recorded his feelings about
the 'Battle of Dornock':
“ That ikle tyme at Lowchmabne
Off Annandyrdale the floure was tane
With off the West Marche
That had thame in till Ingland then.
Amang thaim Williame
Takyn an till presone was.
That was bot erlys for
Off infortwne that efftyr fell.
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