During the Scottish Wars of Independence, a Scots army totalling some 15,000 men crossed the border on a diversionary raid to pillage Yorkshire. It was left to the Archbishop of York William Melton to organise its defence, which he duly did by recruiting a scratch force including a large number of men from holy orders.
Setting off from York, the Archbishop planned to surprise the Scots. His inexperienced militia however proved no match for the battle hardened Scots, and they were cut to pieces as they crossed a bridge over the River Swale. Many more were drowned attempting to flee the carnage.
Although the Archbishop himself escaped, so many clerics perished in the encounter that it became known as the ‘Chapter of Myton’.
The battle was such a crushing defeat for the English that it forced Edward II to raise the siege of Berwick, one of the original objectives of the Scottish diversionary raid. Meanwhile the victorious Scottish army retreated back across the border into Scotland carrying their ill-gotten gains and prisoners.
Date: 20th September, 1319
War: First War of Scottish Independence
Location: Myton, North Yorkshire
Belligerents: Kingdom of England, Kingdom of Scotland
Victors: Kingdom of Scotland
Numbers: England between 10,000 – 20,000, Scotland between 10,000 – 15,000
Casualties: Unknown, although it is thought the English lost between 1,000 and 4,000
Commanders: Sir James Douglas (Scotland), William Melton (England)