Bruce and Balliol

Bruce and Balliol : Scottish Raids 1272-1372

At the forefront of Scottish raids on Northern England in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries was Robert the Bruce, king of Scotland, a member of the ‘De Brus’ family of Norman origin who had originally settled around Hartlepool in Durham and Skelton in Cleveland. Robert was succeeded as Scottish king by his son David Bruce (David II) in 1329 but both kings were challenged by their Norman rivals John and Edward Balliol. The two Balliols also became Scottish kings and were respectively the son and grandson of Hugh Balliol of Barnard Castle in Teesdale.

Barnard Castle Castle
Barnard Castle Castle © David Simpson

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Nov 20, 1272 – EDWARD I

Edward I ‘Hammer of the Scots’ becomes King of England. He is known as ‘Longshanks’ from his tall stature and long legs. Edward is the first of three kings in a row called Edward. Like his late father, Henry III, he is a member of the Plantagenet dynasty which has its roots in France. It is a dynasty that has provided the English monarchs since the reign of Henry II. Like his Plantagenet and Norman predecessors Edward speaks French and knows Latin but despite ‘Edward’ being a very English sounding name, he speaks very little if any English. His military and political aspirations are primarily focused on France but France’s ally, Scotland proves a major distraction for him and his successors. Edward will gain a reputation for ruthless brutality and military success especially north of the border and comes to be known as the ‘Hammer of the Scots’.

1280 – Man killed at football match

A man is killed at Ulgham (pronounced ‘Uffam’) near Morpeth during a football match. It seems to have been an accident – a rather extraordinary accident – caused by a player, Henry de Ellington running into the knife of a David Le Keu, the knife piercing Ellington’s belly and causing his death.

1283 – Stockton a port

Stockton was first mentioned as a port as early as 1283 and belonged to the Prince Bishops of Durham. It was firmly held by the bishops. Hartlepool was however the premier port of the Durham Peince Bishops, although ownership of Hartlepool was frequently disputed with the Bruce family.

Teesquay Millennium Bridge
The River Tees at Stockton © David Simpson

1286 – Scottish king dies in accident

The Scottish king, Alexander III has died in a riding accident in Fife. It leaves a power vacuum north of the border. The intended successor will be Alexander’s granddaughter Margaret ‘Maid of Norway’ who lives with her father, the King of Norway. She is two years old.

1286 – Newcastle leather trade

Utilising hides from local livestock, Newcastle is the leading English port for the export of leather.

1290 – Salt making

John Rumundebi is given permission by Robert Brus (Bruce) to make salt at Hart village near Hartlepool. The cost of renting the salt pans, formerly held by Adam the Miller are priced “at the rental of a pair of white gloves or a penny at Easter”. The large salt pans were used in the production of salt through the evaporation of sea water.

The De Brus Wall, Hart VIllage
De Brus Wall, at Hart VIllage near Hartlepool a remnant of the family home © David Simpson

1290 – Augustinian friars in Newcastle

Augustinian or ‘Austin’ Friars establish a friary in Newcastle.

Sept 1290 – Margaret of Scotland dies at sea

The seven-year old, Margaret ‘Maid of Norway’ the uncrowned Queen of Scotland never sees her kingdom as she dies during her journey from Norway.  She had recently been betrothed in marriage to Prince Edward, the son of the English king.

1291 – Newcastle ships coal to Dorset

Newcastle ships 80 quarters of coal to Corfe Castle in Dorset.

1291 – Alnwick market

A market is established at Alnwick.

Alnwick Market Place and Town Hall
Alnwick Market Place and Town Hall © David Simpson

1291 – Hugh’s camera at Heworth

The Prior of Durham, Hugh of Darlington, has recently completed a ‘camera’ at Heworth near Gateshead. A camera is a kind of house. The Heworth neighbourhood is noted for its hunting forests which the Prior will no doubt enjoy.

Jun 1291 – Scottish lords gather at Norham

The death of Queen Margaret last year leaves the English king, Edward I in a powerful position to chose the new monarch north of the border. At the church of Norham on Tweed the Scottish lords swore fealty to Edward I, recognising him as their superior lord. It was agreed that the claims of the candidates for the Scottish crown will be submitted to Edward. It is something of a humiliation for Scotland, although the primary Scottish candidates, Bruce and Balliol are ultimately, like Edward, from families of French origin.

Norham church
Norham church where the Scots swore fealty to King Edward © David Simpson

17 Nov, 1292 – Edward makes Balliol king

After lengthy hearings, Edward I declares John Balliol king of Scotland in the great hall at Berwick Castle. Balliol is the son of Hugh Balliol of Barnard Castle. There were thirteen claimants in total but only two principal forerunners for the Scottish crown. Balliol’s principal rival had been Robert the Bruce.

Old Bridge, Berwick.
The Old Bridge and River Tweed at Berwick © David Simpson

1292 – King crushes North Shields growth

Monks from Tynemouth have been ordered by the king to cease all port trading activities at North Shields from which they generate much revenue. It is considered detrimental to the trade in Newcastle from which the king can profit. There were around a hundred houses at North Shields at this time.

Mouth of the Tyne from North Shields.
Mouth of the Tyne from North Shields © David Simpson

1296 – Newcastle shipbuilding

The first record of shipbuilding at Newcastle is in this year. A galley was constructed for the fleet of King Edward.

1296 – Balliol rebels against English king

John Balliol, King of Scotland, disillusioned at being King Edward’s puppet, leads the Scots in an invasion of Cumberland and Northumberland but is defeated at Dunbar in April. King Edward heads into Scotland in a punitive attack. Balliol submits and is taken prisoner. King Edward removes the Scottish coronation stone from Scone in Perthshire. The deposing of Balliol effectively makes Edward the King of Scotland.

1296 – Balliol’s Tees and Tyne lands seized

John Balliol’s lands in England are confiscated by King Edward. The opportunist Anthony Bek, Bishop of Durham, seizes the Balliol estates in Teesdale, including Barnard Castle. The Balliol lands at Bywell on Tyne are also forfeited and pass into the hands of the crown, later becoming a property of the Nevilles.

The 'Black Church' of St Peter, Bywell.
St Peter’s church at Bywell on Tyne was part of Balliol’s barony © David Simpson

1296 – Berwick back in English hands

The town of Berwick is retaken by the English and here some 2,000 leaders from throughout Scotland pay homage to the English king in a moment of extreme humiliation for the Scots.

1296 – Tynedale now firmly English

The extensive district known as the Liberty of Tynedale is now firmly in the hands of the English king, Edward I. This once disputed ‘Liberty’ had been in Scottish hands since at least 1157 and probably for some considerable time before that. Since the death of the Scottish king Alexander III in 1286 its ownership by Scotland has been in doubt. The liberty will remain in English hands but will increasingly become a hotbed of lawlessness and reiving over the next three centuries. The Liberty includes both North Tynedale and South Tynedale including Alston in Cumberland but not Hexhamshire which lies further downstream.

South Tynedale near Kirkhaugh
South Tynedale near Kirkhaugh © David Simpson

1297 – William Wallace attacks North

William Wallace (‘Braveheart’) takes up the Scottish cause against English domination in Scotland. As so often, the far north of England takes the brunt of the blows. William attacks Northumberland, burning Hexham, (including the abbey and grammar school), Corbridge and Ryton but is driven back from Newcastle.

Ryton on Tyne near Gateshead: attacked by Wallace © David Simpson

1298 – Mining at Hett

Coal is already being extensively mined across the region in simple bell pits. Mining at Hett near Spennymoor is recorded this year.

Hett Village near Spennymoor
Hett Village near Spennymoor © David Simpson

1298 – Iron mining

Iron mining is recorded at Muggleswick in north west Durham.

Muggleswick © David Simpson

1298 – Edward defeats Wallace at Falkirk

The government moves to York while Edward, assisted by Bishop Bek, defeats the Scots under Wallace at Falkirk. Wallace is executed.

1300 – Mayor for Newcastle

Newcastle is permitted to elect a senior burgess or mayor, a sign of a continuing growth in the town’s civic status and development of trade.

1303 – Ship loading banned at Shields

Edward III supports Newcastle in banning the loading and unloading of ships by the Priors of Durham at South Shields.

Out to sea, South Shields
Out to sea, South Shields © David Simpson

1303 – Bishop grants mining rights

The Bishop of Durham who has extensive lead and coal mining rights across Durham grants lesser land owners rights to mine their land.

1305 – Coals to London

Newcastle is already well established in shipping coal. It is known that coal was shipped to London from at least as early as 1305.

1306 – Complaints against bloomeries

Complaints are made to parliament regarding the Bishop of Durham’s clearance of forests for the production of charcoal used in his iron bloomeries (simple blast furnaces).

1307 – Port of Alnmouth

Alnmouth in Northumberland receives a charter as a port.

Alnmouth © David Simpson

1307 – Bruce loses Hartlepool

Last year Robert Bruce took over the crown of Scotland which had been vacant since Balliol was deposed. The English king, Edward I who claims superiority in Scotland confiscates Hartlepool from Bruce. The king also takes Teesdale from Bishop Bek and gives it to Guy Beauchamp.

Church of St Hilda, Old Hartlepool
Church of St Hilda, Old Hartlepool, founded by the Bruce family © David Simpson

July 7, 1307 – Death of Edward I near Carlisle

The English invade Scotland to subdue Bruce but King Edward I dies at Burgh on Sands in Cumbria to the west of Carlisle near the Solway Firth. His son Edward II, will replace him as king.

July 8, 1307 – KING EDWARD II

King Edward II succeeds his father as King of England.

1309 – Percy purchases Alnwick

The Percy family purchase Alnwick Castle from Bishop Bek of Durham though it may not have rightfully been Bek’s to sell.

Alnwick Castle and the Lion Bridge. the lion is the symbol of the Percys © David Simpson

1310 – Stockton market

Stockton is granted a market granted by the Prince Bishop of Durham, Antony Bek.

1311 – Spring of ‘le Spring’

Houghton-le-Spring is held by the wife of a man called Henry Spring.

1311 – Death of Bek

Bishop Anthony Bek dies. He was one of the most powerful and influential of the Prince Bishops.

Tomb of Bishop Bek, Durham Cathedral
Inscription on the tomb of Bishop Bek, Durham Cathedral © David Simpson

1312 – Sedgefield market

A weekly market was first granted to Sedgefield in 1312 by Bishop Kellaw of Durham.

Sedgefield Church
Sedgefield Church © David Simpson

1312 – King’s lover captured

Edward II gives Scarborough Castle to his lover or ‘favourite’, Piers Gaveston, who is later captured by rebels and executed.

Scarborough Castle, gateway © David Simpson

1312 – Bruce truce at Hexham follows attack

Robert the Bruce burns and plunders the County Palatine of Durham in a raid as far south as Hartlepool – his family’s ancestral home. The men of Northumberland pay him £2,000 in a truce at Hexham.

1312 – Dunstanburgh Castle

England’s Government is moved to York while Edward fights the rebellious Earl of Lancaster. The Earl builds a stronghold at Dunstanburgh in Northumberland.

Dunstanburgh Castle from Embleton
Dunstanburgh Castle from Embleton © David Simpson

Dec 12, 1312 – Bruce exposed by dog

Robert the Bruce fails to take Berwick from the English after a dog barks and alerts the town guards.

Jun 24, 1314 – Battle of Bannockburn

Bruce invades England and regains Tynedale for Scotland which declares him their king. On June 24, the English are routed at Bannockburn. King Edward II flees to Berwick by boat and then on to Hartlepool and York. Scottish raids follow, that reach as far as Swaledale in North Yorkshire. Berwick will be retaken by the Scots.

1315 – Scots raid Hartlepool

There is a Scottish raid on Hartlepool under the leadership of the Earl Douglas. King Robert the Bruce had once been the owner of Hartlepool and this was the place to which the English King Edward II had fled following the Battle of Bannockburn.

Old Hartlepool
Old Hartlepool © David Simpson

1316 – Pirates drive ship into Amble

A ship laden at Hartlepool with wheat rye and salt and destined for Berwick was driven ashore by freebooting pirates at the mouth of the Coquet near Amble.

1317 – Kidnapped bishop

The newly appointed Prince Bishop of Durham, Lewis Beamont (1317-1333) is attacked and kidnapped at Rushyford on the Great North Road, along with his brother Henry Beaumont by Northumbrian freebooters called Gilbert Middleton and Walter Selby, accompanied by a troop of horsemen. A cardinal that accompanied the bishop was allowed to continue his journey onward to Durham. The bishop and his brother are imprisoned at Mitford Castle near Morpeth. A ransom is paid and the two men released but Middleton will be captured, then hung drawn and quartered. The cardinal was in England on the instructions of the pope, heading into Scotland to meet Robert the Bruce in the hope of persuading him to sign a truce with England.

1318 – Bridge murder

The Bishop of Durham’s Steward, Richard Fitzmarmaduke is murdered by his cousin, Ralph Neville known as ‘The Peacock of the North’ on Durham’s Framwellgate Bridge.

View of Durham Castle from Framwellgate Bridge
View of Durham Castle from Framwellgate Bridge © David Simpson

1319 – Battle of Myton on Swale

Edward’s army of 8,000 fails to capture Berwick. The English take flight and the Scots raid as far as York. An army headed by Nicholas Fleming, Mayor of York, is defeated in Yorkshire at Myton on Swale near Boroughbridge, by the Scots under the Earl of Moray.

1322- Wear ferry

A ferry is known to have been operating across the River Wear at Hylton near Sunderland by this time.

March 1322 – Scots plunder Stockton

Edward’s forces under Andrew Harclay defeat the Earl of Lancaster at Boroughbridge in Yorkshire. The Earl of Lancaster has been a supporter of Robert the Bruce. The towns Stockton and Hartlepool are plundered by the Scots and on October 14, Edward II is almost captured during a raid at Byland near Thirsk.

1323 – Harclay’s limbs at Newcastle

Andrew Harclay is executed for visiting Robert the Bruce in Scotland to make peace without Edward’s consent. Harclay’s limbs are displayed on York bridge and at Carlisle and Newcastle Castles.

Newcastle Castle keep above viaduct
Newcastle Castle keep © David Simpson

1324 – Peace treaty fails

A peace treaty drawn up between England and Scotland at Bishopthorpe near York last year loses the support of Bruce.

1325 – Dalden Tower

Jordan Dalden is granted a licence to build a tower at Dalden near Seaham for protection against the Scots. Meanwhile Durham City’s defensive walls are restored. It is a sign of troubled times when defences are being built and strengthened in Durham.

Ruins of Dalden Tower near Seaham © David Simpson

Jan 25, 1327 – EDWARD III

Parliament agrees to depose Edward II who is imprisoned in Kenilworth Castle in Warwickshire. Edward abdicates and his son, King Edward III, succeeds him.

Aug 1327 – 10,000 shoes in Weardale

Robert the Bruce invades Northumberland and Durham and evades the new young English king Edward III in Weardale where a Scottish camp making a hasty escape leave behind 10,000 pairs of shoes and many other items. Edward encamps in Weardale for a month hoping to encounter the Scots.

A Weardale scene near Cowshill © David Simpson

Sept 1327 – Edward’s nasty death

The recently deposed King Edward II is murdered at Berkeley Castle in Gloucestershire in an incident involving a red hot poker.

1328 – Pallion : Le Pavylion

A place called ‘Le Pavylion’ (Pallion) is mentioned near Sunderland. Belonging to the Bowes family it was presumably a summer house of some kind. Fishing grounds nearby were known as Bowes Water.

1329 – Mine deaths

Coal mining deaths are recorded at Whickham on Tyneside and Thrislington near Ferryhill this year.

June 7, 1329 – Robert the Bruce dead

Robert Bruce of Scotland dies at Cardross in Strathclyde and is succeeded as king by his son David Bruce (King David II) who is only five-years-old.

1331 – Warkworth Percys

King Edward III sells Warkworth on the River Coquet in Northumberland to the Percys. It is a well-defended location situated in a loop of the river. The ‘wark’ of the name Warkworth signifies earthworks of fortification.

Warkworth Castle moat
Warkworth castle moat © David Simpson

Sep 24, 1332 – Edward Balliol Scottish king

King David II is forced into exile as Edward Balliol becomes the King of Scotland and crowned at Scone. Balliol will be deposed (by supporters of King David) and then restored on a number of occasions during his reign as follows: deposed in December 1332; restored in 1333; deposed in 1334; restored in 1335 and finally deposed in 1341.

Feb-Jul 1333 – Berwick under siege

King Edward III of England besieges the Scottish town of Berwick in support of Edward Balliol, the deposed King of Scotland who had come to Edward for help. The English blockade the port with ships off shore. The siege of Berwick continues into July. In the meantime sections of the English army were ordered to harry and plunder the Scottish Lothians. Edward’s brutality is further demonstrated by the hanging of two sons of the Berwick governor Seton outside the walls of the town. Seton had handed the boys over to Edward as hostages.

Marygate, Berwick
Marygate, Berwick © David Simpson.

April 1333 – Queen asked to leave cathedral

Edward III arrived in Durham on April 1 on his way north to assist with the military campaign at Berwick. He was joined here a few days later by his wife, Queen Philippa who arrived from Knaresborough. The queen entered the confines of the Durham Cathedral priory and dined with the king before retiring to sleep there. Under the strict Benedictine rules of the cathedral the presence of women within the confines of the cathedral and its priory buildings is forbidden. The cathedral’s monks draw this to the attention of the king, who not wishing to offend, has his queen awoken. She leaves the cathedral in her under garments and finds sleeping quarters in the castle. Strictly, women are only allowed to enter the Galilee Chapel (the Lady Chapel) of the cathedral and may only enter a little way into the main body of a cathedral where a black line of Frosterley marble marks the point beyond which they may not cross.

Frosterley marble line marked the point beyond which women were not allowed to cross,
Frosterley marble line marked the point beyond which women were not allowed to cross, Durham Cathedral © David Simpson

July 19, 1333 – Battle of Halidon Hill

On July 19, a Scottish army from the north advanced upon Berwick in four columns headed by the Earl of Moray, Sir Archibald Douglas, Sir James Stuart and the Earl of Ross. The English had taken up positions on Halidon Hill just north of Berwick and the Scottish forces were heavily defeated in a large part due to the onslaught of the English longbowmen.

Signpost, Halidon Hill battle site
Signpost, Halidon Hill battle site © David Simpson

July 20, 1333 – Berwick back in English hands

The day after the Battle of Halidon Hill, the town of Berwick surrenders and passes once again into English hands.

Berwick from Halidon Hill with Bamburgh and Lindisfarne in the distance
Berwick viewed from Halidon Hill with Bamburgh and Lindisfarne in the distance © David Simpson

1334 – Newcastle fourth wealthiest town

Newcastle is the fourth wealthiest town in England after London, Bristol and York.

1334 – Newcastle ban at Gateshead quays

King Edward bans Newcastle’s mayor and bailiffs from mooring ships at Gateshead which lies within the Bishop of Durham’s lands.

1334 – Gateshead Fair

Gateshead was the home to a fair from at least as early as 1334 when the fair was confirmed by the Bishop of Durham.

Aug 18, 1335 – Scots attack Hartlepool

Scots invade the Tees valley via Cumberland as far as Hartlepool. Hartlepudlians take refuge at sea. Scots resent the rule of Edward Balliol, an English puppet.

Old Hartlepool
Old Hartlepool © David Simpson

1340 – Anchorage at Gateshead

The Bishop of Durham establishes an anchorage for an anchoress (or female hermit) near Gateshead church.

1342 – King David besieges Durham

Edward Balliol is deposed as King of Scotland and replaced by King David II who attacks Newcastle but cannot break the walls. David enters and plunders Durham after a seven day siege before returning to Scotland.

1342 – Etal Castle

Sir Robert Manners gains a licence to crenellate (build a castle) at Etal in Northumberland from Edward III.

Etal Castle
Etal Castle  © David Simpson

1344 – Chillingham Castle

Chillingham castle is commenced after a licence to crenellate was granted to a Thomas De Heton.

1344 – Newcastle merchants wreck quays

The Bishop of Durham prosecutes Newcastle merchants for wrecking his quays at Gateshead and Whickham.

1344 – Newcastle’s letter to Stockton

Stockton’s shipping activity has caught the attention of the powerful mayor and bailiffs of Newcastle who have sent a lengthy letter to the town of Stockton instructing on the legal obligations of customs and trade. Newcastle, however seems to have little influence this far to the south even though shipping on the coast as far south as Whitby falls under Newcastle’s jurisdiction.

Aug 1346 – Towns provide ships for siege

NewcastleHartlepool and Bamburgh provide ships for the siege of Calais following victory over the French at the Battle of Crecy. Newcastle provides 17 ships and 314 men; Hartlepool five ships and 145 men; Bamburgh one ship and nine men. Edward III captures Calais and so now has control of both sides of the English Channel.

Bamburgh Castle and village
Bamburgh provided a ship for the siege of Calais © David Simpson

Oct 1346 – Scots invade Durham

After raiding in Cumberland, the Scots under King David II attack Hexham and Blanchland and head for Durham via Ebchester. They come in support of their allies, the French, who are currently under attack from the English on the continent. Assembling at Bearpark (the Durham Prior’s park and manor of Beaurepaire in the Browney Valley) the Scots prepare to engage in battle.

The ruins of Beaurepaire
The ruins of Beaurepaire above the Browney Valley near Durham © David Simpson

Oct 17, 1346 – Battle of Neville’s Cross

A battle commences between the Scots and English at Crossgate Moor overlooking the Browney Valley to the west of Durham City just north of Neville’s Cross. Here the battle site overlooks the valley of the little River Browney just west of Durham City. The nearby cross called Nevilles Cross which symbolised sanctuary in the city, will give its name to the battle. The Scots outnumber the English but are defeated by the English who are commanded by the Archbishop of York as the English king is absent on military campaigns in France.

The Battle of Nevilles Cross 1346 © David Simpson.

Oct 17, 1346 – King David taken prisoner

David, the Scottish king is found hiding under a bridge over the River Browney at Aldin Grange near Durham following the battle. David, the son of Robert the Bruce, will be held prisoner for 11 years.

Aldin Grange Bridge where David King of Scotland was found hiding after the Battle of Neville's Cross
Aldin Grange Bridge where David King of Scotland was found hiding after the Battle of Neville’s Cross © David Simpson

1346 – Sunderland shipbuilding

Thomas Menvill of Hendon is recorded as a shipbuilder in Sunderland this year.

1349 – Black Death strikes

The Black Death is sweeping north. It is so virulent it is likely that it will wipe out many villages.

1349 – Blenkinsopp’s castle

Thomas Blenkinsopp is granted a licence to crenellate (create a castle) from his existing manor house called ‘Blenekensope’.

Blenkinsopp Castle
Blenkinsopp Castle © David Simpson

1350s – Monks are miners

The monks of Durham Cathedral Priory are heavily involved in coal mining. In the 1350s mines owned or leased by the monks include pits at Lumley, Rainton and Ferryhill.

1350 – Langley Castle

Langley castle is built is built by Sir Thomas De Lucy. It is thought to stand on the site of an earlier residence that belonged to the Tindal family who took their name from Tynedale of which they were barons.

Langley Castle
Langley Castle © David Simpson

Oct 17, 1357 – King’s ransom at Berwick

In the Treaty of Berwick, the English agree to hand over David II to the Scots in return for a ransom. David is handed over but the Scots will never pay the ransom.

1360 – Trinitarian friars in Newcastle

Trinitarian Friars are established at Pandon in Newcastle at a site called Wall Knoll once occupied by Whitefriars.

Wall Knoll Tower of Sally Port
Wall Knoll Tower or Sally Port in Tower Street, is part of the town walls of Newcastle. The Carmelite white friars and later the Trinitarians were based here © David Simpson

1367 – Keeper of coals

A Nicholas Cole is appointed as the vendor and keeper of coals in the manors of Gateshead and Whickham by the Bishop of Durham.

1368 – Scott’s Wood

A man called Richard Scott was granted permission to enclose a wood to the west of Newcastle.

River Tyne from the Scotswood Bridge
The River Tyne from the Scotswood Bridge © David Simpson

1371 – Stewart succeeds David Bruce as king

The Scottish king David Bruce (David II) dies at Edinburgh Castle and is succeeded by his nephew Robert II, a less effective king who reigns until 1390. Robert’s father was the High Steward of Scotland and from that title he took the name Stewart. Robert is the first member of the Stewart (or Stuart) dynasty of Scottish kings who would rule Scotland and subsequently rule England.

1372 – Populous Newcastle

With 2,637 tax payers, Newcastle is the 11th largest town in England.

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