Page:Robert the Bruce and the struggle for Scottish independence - 1909.djvu/357

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1326 A.D.]



The Exchequer Rolls of Scotland, which were interrupted at the death of the Maid of Norway in 1290, recommence in this year, and contain evidence of some of the projects in which the King took most personal interest. It has been already noticed that he almost invariably demolished those castles which fell into his hands during the war; his motive, of course, being to prevent their being of immediate use to the enemy in the event of their recapture. Dunbarton is said to have been the only fortress preserved, and this was put to the use of a state prison. Now, however, that the English, as was hoped, had been finally expelled from Scottish soil, and the lands owned by such of the feudal lords as remained lieges of England had been divided among the adherents of the Bruce, the time had come to put the national defences in repair. But inasmuch as the terms of the truce prohibited the erection of any works in the Border counties, where undoubtedly there was most need for defence, a beginning was made in a part of the kingdom which, at first sight, might have seemed more secure than the rest.

In choosing the west Highlands as the site of a place of arms, the King of Scots was looking more to future than to existing conditions. John of Lorn, kinsman of the Comyns and Balliols and inveterate opponent of the Bruce, was dead; and his possessions, with those of Alexander of Islay and part of the wide territory of the Comyns of Badenoch, had been bestowed on Alexander's brother, Angus Oig or Young Angus, who became Lord of the Isles. But faithful as Angus had ever proved to the Bruce,