Page:Robert the Bruce and the struggle for Scottish independence - 1909.djvu/240

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[1307 A.D.-
Robert the Bruce.

King of Scots now had it in his power to avenge the blood of his brothers, whom Macdouall had delivered to the gallows at Carlisle in 1307; but he showed a magnanimous forbearance, and Macdouall continued in the service of England till his death in 1327.[1]

Barbour describes the capture of Linlithgow castle as taking place in 1309; but it was certainly in the hands of the English till July 10, 1313, Sir Peter de Luband being in command with a mixed garrison of English, Scots, and Irish.[2] As he says distinctly that the assault took place in harvest time, the real date was, in all likelihood, September, 1313. This time the poet has to record the valour, not of some high-born knight, but of a simple countryman called Bunnock, who got himself hired by the garrison to cart in the hay they had cut by the lakeside. Choosing a time when the soldiers were at work in the harvest-field, he placed a party in ambush near the castle. He then concealed eight armed men in his wain under the hay, gave the lad who led the horses a sharp axe with instructions how to use it, and proceeded to the castle gate with his load. The porter threw all wide to admit the wain, but just as it was entering the gate, Bunnock turned the horses' heads so that it stuck fast in the gangway. At the same moment, the lad cut the

  1. Bain, ii., 171. In estimating Bruce's magnanimity, it should be remembered that the ransom of a knight such as Macdouall was a consideration of moment, if not to the King himself, who perhaps was not present at the taking of Dumfries, at all events to Macdouall's captor.
  2. Ibid., 411, 412.