The plan adopted by Wallace for the defence of Scotland, was the same as that which was afterwards so successfully executed by Bruce. It was to avoid a general battle, which, with an army far inferior to the English, must have been fought at a disadvantage; to fall back slowly before the enemy, leaving some garrisons in the most important castles, driving off all supplies, wasting the country through which the English were to march, and waiting till the scarcity of provisions compelled them to retreat, and give him a favourable opportunity of breaking down upon them with full effect. Edward had determined to penetrate into the west of Scotland, and there he purposed to conclude the war. He directed a fleet with supplies for his army, to sail round from Berwick to the Firth of Forth; and having left Roxburgh, he proceeded by moderate marches into Scotland, laying waste the country, and anxious for a sight of his enemies. No one, however, was to be found, who could give him information regarding the Scottish army; and he proceeded through Berwickshire to Lauder, and without a check to Templeliston, now Kirkliston, a small town between Edinburgh and Linlithgow.
Here, as provisions began already to be scarce, he determined to remain, in order to receive the earliest intelligence of his fleet; and, in case of accidents, to secure his retreat. At this time he learnt that frequent attacks were made against the foraging parties of his rear division, by the Scottish garrison in the strong castle of Dirleton: and that two other fortalices, which he had passed on his march, were likely to give him annoyance. Upon this he despatched his favourite martial bishop, Anthony Beck, who sat down before the castle; but, on account of the want of proper battering machines, found it too strong for him. He then attempted to carry it by assault, but was driven back with loss; and as his division began to be in extreme want, the bishop sent Sir John Marmaduke to require the king's pleasure. "Go back," said Edward, "and tell Anthony that he is right to be pacific, when he is acting the bishop, but that in his present business he must forget his calling. As for you," continued the king, addressing Marmaduke, "you are a relentless soldier, and I have often had to reprove you for too cruel an exultation over the death of your enemies; but return now whence you came, and be as relentless as you choose. You will have my thanks, not my censure; and look you, do not see my face again, till these three castles are razed to the ground ."