Page:Robert the Bruce and the struggle for Scottish independence - 1909.djvu/238

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[1307 A.D.-
Robert the Bruce.

this expedition, for, having burned once more the oft-calcined towns of Hexham and Corbridge, he granted a truce till June 24, 1313, on payment of £2000 in cash by each of the counties of Northumberland, Cumberland, Westmorland, and Durham. Such contributions served to replenish the exchequer of the King of Scots, who was able now to turn his attention to reducing strongholds within his own realm.

Access to the public records has made it possible to supplement and amend the chronology of early writers, and at the same time to verify many of the details given by them of this period. Barbour is charitably silent about an unsuccessful attempt made by Bruce on Berwick castle, on the night of December 6, 1311; but the chronicler of Lanercost minutely describes the rope-ladders, which he himself had seen, used by the Scots in their assault. They were, he says, of an ingenious and novel design. A dog barked at the critical moment of the escalade, the garrison were roused, and the assailants made off, leaving their ladders hanging.

Forfar was probably the first place of strength to fall into the hands of the Scots—some time in 1312, and, according to Bruce's invariable practice, the fortifications were immediately destroyed. Buittle, Dalswinton, Caerlaverock, and perhaps Lochmaben, commanding the valleys of the Dee, the Nith, and the Annan, followed not long after, surrendering to Edward de Brus. Perth, a far stronger place than Forfar, was besieged by the King of Scots in person. It was commanded by that Sir William de Oliphant