By Rosalind Mitchison

A great quantity for somebody short of a brisk evaluate of North Britain from the yr dot to the 20th century.

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Only by doing things in the old way, by using Balliol’s name and reasserting the French alliance, could the government of the rebel country hold insecurely together. For no period of history does the anachronistic modern concept of the all-embracing national state more corrupt our judgement. We should no more expect nineteenth-or twentieth-century standards of patriotism from our ancestors than we should expect a European patriotism from ourselves—yet already there exists a sense of European community, and an attack from outside might crystallize this incipient supranationalism into a real loyalty.

They met at Scone six weeks later and acknowledged Margaret, Alexander’s three-year-old Norwegian granddaughter and only direct descendant, as inheritor of the kingdom, unless the king’s widow should bear a child. They also appointed a Committee of Guardians composed of six, two earls, two bishops and two barons, to govern until a ruler should be enthroned. That an earl and a baron were both of the same great family of Comyn is interesting; part of the family’s importance at this time lay in the fact that it was not one really close to the throne.

David stayed neutral until called in by Matilda, and then charged in unsuccessfully in the hope of grabbing Northumberland. He tried again in 1138 but was defeated at the famous Battle of the Standard after a campaign that led to a flood of atrocity stories in the English chronicles (it was the Galwegians particularly who annoyed the English). In spite of defeat, the uncertain position of Stephen enabled David to get hold of Carlisle and the earldom of Northumberland. But the year of the Standard marks a watershed in frontier history: the old community of northern Anglo-Saxon Britain was broken.

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