The Myton Campaign
The Myton Campaign
War: Anglo-Scottish: Scottish War of Independence
Campaign: Myton Campaign
During the first half of the 14th century the Scots were involved in a series of campaigns to secure their independence, following Edward I’s conquest in the 1290s. In 1314 Robert the Bruce had defeated Edward II’s army at Bannockburn and expelled the English from Scotland. He then captured Berwick on Tweed, which had been refortified in the last years of Edward I, as the key border town controlling the important east coast road between the two kingdoms.
In August 1319 Edward II besieged the town. Rather than sending a relief force against this major English army, an experienced Scottish army was sent into England by the west coast route, via Carlisle, in a diversionary attack. The Scottish army numbered perhaps 10-15,000 men, one account says 20,000 though medieval chronicles are notoriously inaccurate when it comes to numbers of troops involved in major actions. They were commanded by the Bannockburn veteran Thomas Randolph, Earl of Moray, and Lord James Douglas.
As with so many other Scottish forays into the North of England, this was a punitive raid causing destruction across the north. They crossed the Pennines heading into Yorkshire, plundering and destroying as they went, including at Ripon and then Boroughbridge before a local English response could be mounted. Intelligence from a captured Scottish spy revealed his army’s location and their intention to capture the English Queen, who was staying near to York.
Like Northallerton in 1138, with the King engaged in action elsewhere the Archbishop of York, as one of the greatest magnates in the north, took charge of the defence of Yorkshire. The Queen was whisked away to safety in Nottingham and an army rapidly assembled from the local populous.
Myton was a crushing victory for the Scots, but after the battle the victorious army retreated into Scotland. They had to avoid an engagement with Edward’s far more powerful army, which they could not hope to win. But Edward had been forced to raise the siege of Berwick just as the Scots had intended and he also failed to intercept the retreating Scottish army. But with Myton, just as with the far greater victory at Bannockburn, the Scottish War of Independence was not ended. The warfare dragged on for another nine years until a treaty was signed in 1328.
Hall, The Penguin Atlas of British and Irish history, London, Penguin, 2001, 90-91. Ormrod’s brief summary of the wars for control of Scotland in the late 13th and early 14th century, including a national and regional map, provide an excellent broad context within which to understand the Myton campaign.
Brown, The Second Scottish Wars of Independence 1332-1363, Stroud, Tempus, 2002, 9-22. Brown a more extensive summary of the first Scottish war of independence, of which Myton was a part, in the introductory chapter to his study of the second war of independence.