By Iain A. MacInnes
Northern Scotland, Vol.3 (2012)
Introduction: The 1336 military campaign season witnessed the last major attempt by Edward III to subjugate Scotland. The 1336 campaigns also involved the largest number of invasions during the period of intensive English involvement in Scotland between 1332 and 1338. During the course of the year Edward Balliol and Henry of Lancaster mounted a two-pronged invasion of southern Scotland and Thomas Roslin led a naval expedition to the north-east. Edward III entered Scotland in the summer and mounted his own campaign in the Scottish Highlands, following which John of Eltham raided south-west Scotland. In October Edward III returned again, to rebuild and re-garrison Bothwell Castle. The significance of this military activity has, however, been denied. A.E. Prince suggested that ‘it is unnecessary … to dwell on the campaigns of 1336, as they are of no magnitude and of little military value.’ Even Ranald Nicholson, who produced the most detailed examination of Edward III’s military education in Scotland, ended his study rather abruptly in 1335, ignoring the events of 1336 altogether. More recent surveys have examined in greater detail Edward III’s Scottish wars and the campaigns of 1336 have been subjected to increased scrutiny. Rogers, in particular, provided detailed examination of the campaign but based his analysis on well-known sources that suggest little new about the campaign. He too, along with Penman and Sumption, contextualised the events of 1336 in relation to wider European affairs, in particular the possibility of French forces entering Scotland through Aberdeen. This focus obscured the Lochindorb campaign and, as a result, it remains an unfortunately neglected incident.
To appreciate the significance of the Lochindorb campaign, it is necessary to set the episode in a wider Scottish context. Northern Scotland had become an important battleground in 1335, with David Strathbogie leading a determined campaign to win the allegiance of the region in favour of Edward Balliol and the Disinherited lords who claimed territories in the north. Strathbogie’s siege of Kildrummy Castle had brought a force of Bruce Scots, under the command of Andrew Murray, into the north-east in November to oppose him. The two sides met at Culblean in Mar, where Strathbogie was defeated and killed. The Bruce Scots continued their northern campaign, capturing Loch Kinord Castle and then besieging Lochindorb Castle, the defence of which was led by Strathbogie’s widow, Katherine Beaumont, countess of Atholl. Negotiations between the English and David II’s exiled government in France led to a truce and temporary cessation of the Lochindorb siege. Although the truce was extended until 12 May 1336, both sides were provided with the opportunity to prepare for the forthcoming campaign season.