Battle of Myton
The year 1319 saw Edward II lay siege to the Scottish town of
Berwick, once more back in Scottish hands. The recapture of Berwick
was of great strategic significance for three reasons. Firstly, as
the wealthiest town of Scotland it held great symbolic value,
secondly, it could protect the English armies rear should they
venture north again and thirdly, Robert the Bruce had sworn an oath
to defend the town. In Edward's mind this siege would bring the
Scots to battle, against a numerically superior foe.
garrison under the command of Walter Stewart, Bruce's son -in-law,
held out bravely against ferocious attacks. Bruce sent
James Douglas and Randolph to
make an attempt to lift the siege. Douglas saw that he could not
hope to relieve the town against such large numbers, With his
typical ingenuity he realised that most of the English forces
present were from the northern shires of England. This left the
north open for him to raid. He moved rapidly down into England,
devastating the countryside. The rumour was spread abroad that he
intended to capture Edward's queen, who was lodging at York. Most of
the shires regular fighting men were away with the army. It fell to
Archbishop Melton to form an army of prelates, townsfolk and farmers
to go out to meet the threat. The queen was rushed off to the safety
of Nottingham and Archbishop Melton marched out to intercept Douglas
The English crossed over the River Swale at
Myton to be confronted with a great cloud of drifting smoke, Douglas
had set fire to bales of damp straw. Passing through the smoke, the
English were faced with the Scots drawn up in a defensive schiltrom.
The Scots let out a great roar and panic set into the English force.
They turned to flee back across the Bridge only to find that a
detachment of Scots hobelars had ridden behind them and held the
bridge. It is claimed that more English drowned trying to escape
across the Swale than were killed by the Scots. Because of the large
number of the clergy who were killed the Scots dubbed the battle
'the chapter of Myton'. Douglas captured much treasure as the
Archbishop had carried with him large amounts of church plate, so
much in fact that pleas were later made to thirty one religious
houses to provide funds to replace it.
When word of the
battle, plus numerous reports of the devastation in the countryside,
reached the English camp at Berwick there was near mutiny. The
effect was just what Douglas was seeking. The English lifted the
siege and headed off back to England. As the English army headed
south, Douglas and Randolph bypassed them on their way back to
Scotland, burning and raiding as they went.
Mytton is close to Boroughbridge, in Yorkshire, England
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