Bruce and Balliol

Bruce and Balliol : Scottish Raids 1272AD-1372AD

At the forefront of Scottish raids on Northern England in the 13th and 14th Centuries was King Robert the Bruce, a member of a family of Norman origin who had originally settled around Hartlepool in Durham and Skelton in Cleveland. Robert was succeeded as king by his son David Bruce 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.

Ruins of Barnard Castle
Balliol stronghold: Ruins of Barnard Castle’s castle above the Tees : Photo © David Simpson

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Nov 20  1272 – EDWARD I : Hammer of the Scots

Edward I becomes King of England and is known as ‘Longshanks’ from his tall stature and long legs. He 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 roots in France . It is a dynasty that have provided us with English monarchs since the reign of Henry II. Like his Plantagenet and Norman predecessors, Edward speaks French, knows Latin but despite his English sounding name, 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 and comes to be known as the ‘Hammer of the Scots’.

1280 – Man killed at match

A man is killed at Morpeth during a football match.

1286 – Scottish king dies in riding 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.

The De Brus Wall, Hart VIllage
The De Brus Wall, at Hart VIllage near Hartlepool a remnant of the De Brus family home. Photo © David Simpson 2018

1290 – Salt making

John Rumundebi is given permission by Robert Brus to make salt at Hart village near Hartlepool.

1290 – Augustinian friars in Newcastle

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

Sept 1290 – Queen 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.

The Hotspur gate, Alnwick
The Hotspur gate, Alnwick Photo © 2018 David Simpson.

1291 – Alnwick market

A market is established at Alnwick.

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.

Norham church
Norham church where the Scots swore fealty to King Edward. Photo © David Simpson 2018

June 1291 – Scottish lords meet Edward at Norham on Tweed

The death of Queen Margaret in 1290 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 the superior lord. It was agreed that the claims of the candidates for the Scottish crown will be submitted to Edward .

Old Bridge, Berwick.
The Old Bridge and River Tweed at Berwick. Photo © David Simpson 2018

17 Nov 1292 – Edward declares John Balliol a Scottish 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.

1292 – King crushes port developments at North Shields

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.

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 – John Balliol rebels against English king

Balliol, disillusioned at being King Edward’s puppet, leads the Scots on an invasion of Cumberland and Northumberland but is defeated at Dunbar in April. King Edward heads into Scotland where 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.

The 'Black Church' of St Peter, Bywell.
St Peter’s church at Bywell on Tyne was part of Balliol’s barony. Photo © David Simpson 2018

1296 – Balliol lands in Teesdale and Tyne Valley taken

John Balliol’s lands in England are confiscated by King Edward. The opportunist, Anthony Bek, Bishop of Durham, seizes the Balliol estates in Teesdale. 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.

1296 – Berwick back in English hands

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

South Tynedale near Kirkhaugh
South Tynedale near Kirkhaugh. Photo © David Simpson 2018

1296 Tynedale now English

The extensive district known as the Liberty of Tynedale is taken from the Scottish crown by King Edward I. This long disputed ‘Liberty’ had been in Scottish hands since at least 1157 and probably for some considerable time before that. It will remain in English hands but will become a hotbed of lawlessness and reiving over the next three centuries. The Liberty includes both North Tynedale and South Tynedale but not Hexhamshire which lies further downstream.

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

1297 – William Wallace attacks the 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, Corbridge and Ryton but is driven back from Newcastle.

Hett Village near Spennymoor
Hett Village near Spennymoor. Photo © David Simpson 2018

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,

1298 – Iron mining

Iron mining is recorded at Muggleswick in north west Durham.

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 its continuing civic status and dvelopment 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.

1303 – Bishop of Durham 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 and coal was shipped from London from at least as early as 1305.

1306 – Complaints against bishop’s 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 – 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.

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.

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

1309 – Percys purchase Alnwick

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

1311 – Spring of Le Spring

Houghton le Spring is held by the wife of Henry Spring.

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.

1312 – Robert the Bruce attacks Hartlepool and the North East

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.

Dunstanburgh Castle from Embleton
Dunstanburgh Castle from Embleton © David Simpson 2020

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.

Dec 12 1312 Barking Berwick dog betrays Bruce

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, which declares him 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 reach as far as Swaledale.

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 at 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.

Stockton Town hall and Market Cross.
Stockton Town: plundered by the Scots © David Simpson 2018

March 1322 – Scots plunder Stockton and Hartlepool

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.  Stockton and Hartlepool are plundered by the Scots and on October 14, Edward II is almost captured during a raid at Byland near Thirsk.

Newcastle Castle Keep
Newcastle Castle Keep Photo © David Simpson 2015

1323 – Harclay’s limbs displayed 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 Castle.

1324 – Peace treaty fails

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

Ruins of Dalden Tower near Seaham © David Simpson 2018

1325 – Dalden Tower

Jordan Dalden is granted a licence to build a tower at Dalden 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.

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.

A Weardale scene near Cowshill © David Simpson 2020

Aug 1327 – 10,000 Scottish 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.

Sept 1327 – Deposed Edward dies nasty death

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

1328 – 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. Le Pavylion belonged to the Bowes family and the fishing grounds hereabouts 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 by his son David II who is only five years old.

Warkworth Castle moat
Warkworth Castle moat. Photo © David Simpson 2018

1331 – Warkworth Percys

King Edward III sells Warkworth to the Percys.

Sep 24, 1332 – Edward Balliol is 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.

Marygate, Berwick
Marygate, Berwick. Photo © David Simpson 2018.

Feb-Jul 1333 – Berwick under siege

King Edward III 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 which 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.

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 Bewrick and the Scottish forces were heavily defeated in a large part due to the onslaught of the English longbowmen.

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.

1334 – Newcastle fourth wealthiest town

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

1334 – Newcastle mayor banned from berthing at Gateshead

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 of a fair from at least as early as 1334.

Old Hartlepool
Old Hartlepool. Photo © David Simpson 2018

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.

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.

1344 – Newcastle merchants wreck Durham quays

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

Bamburgh Castle and village
Bamburgh Castle and village Photo © 2015 David Simpson

Aug 1346 – Newcastle, Hartlepool and Bamburgh provide ships for Calais 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, 314 men; Hartlepool five ships, 145 men; Bamburgh one ship, nine men. Edward III captures Calais and so now has control of the English Channel.

The Battle of Nevilles Cros 1346. map © David Simpson 2021.

Oct 17, 1346 – Battle of Neville’s Cross

After raiding in Cumberland the Scots under King David II attack Hexham and Blanchland and head for Durham via Ebchster. They come in support of their allies the French who are currently under atatck from the English Assembling at Bearpark (the Durham Prior’s park of Beau Repaire) the Scots battle with English forces at Crossgate Moor. 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.

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.

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.

c1350s – 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.

Oct 17, 1357 – Treaty of Berwick : David’s ransom

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 never pay the fee.

1360 – Trinitarian friars in Newcastle

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

1368 – Scott’s Wood

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

1371 – Robert Stewart succeeds David Bruce as Scottish 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 England until

1372 – Populous Newcastle

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

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