Harrying of Buchan

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Harrying of Buchan
Part of First War of Scottish Independence
Buchan, Scotland
Result victory for Robert Bruce
Royal Arms of the Kingdom of Scotland.svg Scotland Royal Army Scottish opponents of Bruce
Commanders and leaders
Douglas Arms 1.svg Edward Bruce, Earl of Carrick John Comyn, Earl of Buchan
Unknown Unknown
Casualties and losses
Unknown Heavy; John Comyn, Earl of Buchan fled

The Harrying of Buchan, also known as the Herschip (hardship) or Rape of Buchan, took place in 1308 during the Wars of Scottish Independence. It saw vast areas of Buchan in northeast Scotland, then ruled by Clan Comyn, burned to the ground by Robert the Bruce and his brother Edward, immediately following their May 1308 success at the Battle of Barra.

After his defeat at Barra, John Comyn, Earl of Buchan fled to England. Bruce's men chased him as far as Turriff,[1] a distance of sixteen miles (25 km). Before heading south to lay siege to Aberdeen Castle, the Bruces laid waste the Earldom of Buchan,[1] including all the castles and strongholds, principally Rattray Castle and Dundarg Castle.

Bruce's men proceeded to kill those loyal to the Comyns, destroying their homes, farms, crops and slaughtering their cattle. This was a ruthless exercise by fire and sword which even in an age of violence was regarded as unprecedentedly savage.[2]

Terrorising the locals, Bruce prevented any possible chance of future violent hostility towards him and his men. The Comyns had ruled Buchan for nearly a century, from 1214, when William Comyn inherited the title from his wife. Such was the destruction however, that the people of Buchan lost all loyalties to the Comyns and never again rose against Bruce's supporters. It took thirty years before John Comyn's successor to the Earldom, Henry Beaumont, made an appearance in the area. Between 1333–34, he repaired Dundarg Castle which Bruce had destroyed during the harrying, only for it to be laid siege to and destroyed by Sir Andrew Murray of Bothwell in December 1336. Finding little support, he left after the siege to England where he died in 1340. His son John refused the Earldom, ending the Comyn lineage and the first creation, Mormaers of Buchan.


  1. ^ a b R. Thomas Collins (2003). White Monkey – A Journey Upstream, p.126. RavensYard Publishing Ltd. (Fairfax, Virginia, USA). ISBN 1-928928-07-2.
  2. ^ Watt, William. A history of Aberdeen and Banff, W. Blackwood, 1900