A series of Scottish raids struck the region in 1314. Raids were not new to the area, for many years there had been almost constant feuding in this region of border counties. In 1311 however Robert the Bruce in his attempt to gain recognition as the independent king of Scotland intensified the marauding into a bitter campaign against the English.
Richmondshire suffered greatly in this period but not just because of the Scots. The summer of 1314 was poor and was followed the year after by torrential rains that ruined harvests. Malnutrition and disease quickly followed. Sodden moorland encouraged diseases to spread amongst sheep and there was a drastic reduction in numbers. The Bolton Priory flock was in one year reduced from 3000 to 1000. Oxen and cows fell victim to a plague and murrain so that "men had to plough that year with horses (Lanercost chronicle).
As the Scottish raids intensified Edward II was forced to take action. He was not the strategist and leader that his father had been (Edward Longshanks) and he led the English army to defeat at Bannockburn in June 1314. Thereafter the Northern Counties and Yorkshire were open to attack.
In August a Scottish army led by Robert's brother Edward devastated Northumberland and Durham and invaded Richmondshire. The locals fled south, hid in the woods or took cover in the castles. The army did not enter the town of Richmond with its castle stronghold but rampaged around the surrounding area burning a number of towns and carrying off the depleted stock of cattle. With little resistance offered they returned to Scotland with cattle, prisoners, ransom and booty. Those who did resist were put to the sword. There is clear evidence that Richmond escaped burning and looting by paying huge sums of money to the Scots by way of tribute. The town survived but the surrounding region did not fare so well.
In 1322 Edward II was granted further funds to renew his attack against the Scots. His invading army was forced by dysentery and lack of food to retreat. Edward's baggage train was captured at Riveaulx and the Earl of Richmond between Riveaulx and Byland. Five years later (1327) Edward II was deposed. Very soon after the Regency made a "shameful peace" with the Scots. Robert the Bruce was recognised as the King of Scotland only to die the following year, 1329 but the worst of the raids were over.
The Franciscans at the Friary in Richmond were asked by Archbishop Greenfield of York to preach against the Scottish invaders and offer 40 days indulgence (time off purgatory) to those who would help resist. I judge from this that the locals were pretty scared and dispirited. This was not a good time.
See also St. Agatha's Abbey, Easby
Return to Timeline
Return to Home Page