Battle of Byland.

In August 1322 Edward II lead his last campaign into Scotland. Bruce declined to be drawn into another pitched battle and reverted to his well known policy of, scorched earth, withdrawing before the enemy and destroying anything which may provide them with sustenance. So successful was this policy, that in the whole of Lothian the only thing to eat was one, old lame cow which could not be driven off. It is said that on seeing this the Earl of Surrey remarked, "This is the dearest cow that I ever beheld; for of a certainty it has cost a thousand pounds and more". The English army, as intended, was soon close to starving and was forced to retreat back into England but not before burning Holyrood, Dryburgh and Melrose Abbeys. It was while the English were burning Melrose Abbey that Douglas saw his chance and attacked. Emerging from the woods Douglas drove off the English that were sacking Melrose and then continued to harass the retreating English all the way to the border. With his war cry of 'Douglas! Douglas!' echoing in their ears word would soon spread through the English army that he was at their heels and spur them on toward England.

Edward recrossed the border on 2nd September, the following day he disbanded his army. Bruce now took the initiative and sent forces, probably Douglas's as he was in that area, to attack Norham Castle and raid the neighbourhood. Bruce, accompanied by many highlanders, crossed the Solway at Bowness at the end of September and laid waste to the area around Carlisle. He sent Douglas and Thomas Randolph, Earl of Moray, to search for Edward. The English king was on his way south in the vicinity of Barnard Castle when he had news of the invasion in the west. As insurance he ordered eight of the northern Lords to attend him at a site identified as Scawton Moor, above Sutton Bank, North Yorkshire. Edward lodged first at Byland Abbey, but when news arrived on 12th October that the Scots had crossed the Pennines he removed himself to the comparative safety of Rievaulx Abbey.

Douglas and Randolph were now at Northallerton in a position to intercept the Kings flight. From here it would have been possible to see the banners of the English army, commanded by John of Brittany, along the top of the escarpment. To attempt to reach Rievaulx by another route would give Edward ample time to escape, the decision was taken to attack. It is said that Douglas on checking his troops saw the face of his friend and fellow commander Thomas Randolph, who had no particular orders, grinning back at him. With Douglas leading, the Scots made direct for the English position, at a point that most historians place as the route of the modern road over Sutton Bank.

The two forces soon clashed together in fierce fighting, meanwhile Bruce had sent his lightly clad highlanders to climb the crags to either side of the English position. With the Highlanders falling on them from the flanks and the rear the English soon gave way. As soon as a breach in the ranks was established Walter Stewart with 500 horse made haste for Rievaulx. Edward was warned just in time and made a quick escape, being pursued by the Stewart all the way to Bridlington, taking ship here for York. Edward left in such a hurry that all his silver and plate including the Great Seal of England was left behind and captured by the Scots. Bruce with nothing to stop him now raided as far as Beverly near Hull, York was left as being too difficult to invest without siege engines.