ON THIS day in 1314, Sir James Douglas, better known as Black Douglas, struck a heavy blow against the invading English forces under King Edward II, capturing Roxburgh Castle and razing it to the ground.
Black Douglas was a loyal general, friend and follower of Robert Bruce. He had helped the Scottish King secure victories at the Battle at the Pass of Brander and the assault on Rutherglen Castle.
SCOTSMAN TABLET AND MOBILE APPS
In the decade before 1314, the English presence in Scotland was reduced to garrisons in a few significant strongholds. They were relatively secure in these fortresses as the Scots had very few ways or means to capture castles.
To combat this Bruce and his commanders created several cunning strategies. None were more cunning than that of Black Douglas’ at the capture of the powerful castle of Roxburgh.
In a stunningly effective manoeuvre, Douglas ordered his men to cloak themselves in cow hide and crawl on their hands and knees towards the castle under the cover night.
Complacent guards, who were celebrating the coming of lent, assumed the dark shapes were merely cattle.
The Scots, using scaling hooks and rope ladders, scaled the walls and overcame the surprised defenders. Taking the castle and razing the castle as an act of defiance to deny the English a Borders stronghold.