Meanwhile he took the canons under his protection. "Remain with me," said he, "it is that alone which can secure you. My soldiers are evil disposed. I cannot justify, and I dare not punish them." This sacrilegious attack was the more unpardonable, as the monastery of Hexham was dedicated to the Patron Saint of Scotland, and enjoyed a perpetual protection from King David. Wallace, to atone for the outrage, granted a charter of protection to the priory and convent, by which its lands, men, and moveables, were admitted under the peace of the king, and all persons interdicted from doing them injury. The Scots now advanced to Newcastle, but finding the garrison prepared to stand a siege, they contented themselves with ravaging the adjacent country; and having collected the booty, they allotted their part to the Galwegians who were with the army, and marched homewards.
In revenge for this terrible visitation, Lord Robert Clifford collected the strength of Carlisle and Cumberland, and twice invaded Annandale with an army of twenty thousand foot and a hundred horse. On passing the Solway, it was proclaimed by sound of trumpet, that every soldier should plunder for himself, and keep his own booty; on hearing which, the infantry with undisciplined rapacity dispersed, and the horse alone remained together. In consequence of this, nothing was effected worthy of so powerful an army. Three hundred and eight Scots were slain, ten villages or hamlets burnt, and a few prisoners taken. This happened at Christmas. In his second inroad, the town of Annan, and the church of Gysborne, were burnt and plundered. Annandale belonged to Robert Bruce; and the destruction of his lands and villages determined him once more to desert the English, and join the party of the patriots.