The Man Who Liked a Peaceful Life




Short story


Young adult

Historical era



Margaret Lyford-Pike


BBC Radio Scotland – ?


We Lived in Drumfyvie


Midsummer Fair


A Burgess Builds His House

"The Man Who Liked a Peaceful Life" is the fourth story in the 1975 collection We Lived in Drumfyvie, originally co-written with producer Margaret Lyford-Pike as episodes of an unidentified children's radioplay series.


Jamie the town herd of Drumfyvie Burgh narrates his youthful experience of warfare in the Scottish Wars of Independence. In early 1314, the Scottish castles, including Drumfyvie, were in the hands of Edward II of England's garrisons, while Robert the Bruce ambushed their supply trains. Fourteen-year-old Jamie, searching for a wayward cow, discovers Johnnie Douglas, a kinsman of the Black Douglas, lost and injured under a bush. Jamie fetches food and bandages, then decides to accompany the concussed Johnnie to back to his commander at Roxburgh in the Borders.

They arrive on the eve of Lent, and that night during the Shrovetide feast the Douglases infiltrate Roxburgh Castle by grappling-hooks and ladders under the cover of straying cattle. They slaughter the English garrison and retake the castle. Jamie and Johnnie are separated in the fighting, and Johnnie is killed. The Black Douglas offers Jamie a place among his men, but without Johnnie, Jamie decides his duty lies in Drumfyvie. He asks for a look at the grappling hooks before he leaves.

Back in Drumfyvie, Jamie describes the hooks to the blacksmith, a former man-at-arms in Drumfyvie Castle, and persuades the townspeople to use the Roxburgh strategy before news can spread of how the castle fell. They retake Drumfyvie Castle for Robert the Bruce. Jamie declines a position as a man-at-arms, preferring a quiet life as the town herd.


  • 1314 CE, Robert the Bruce recently returned from lying low in the heather, the English occupying the Scottish castles
    • February: Jamies finds Johnnie Douglas
    • A week later, Shrovetide: they arrive in Roxburgh
      • That night: they storm Roxburgh Castle
    • Halfway through Lent: Edinburgh Castle retaken
    • Midsummer: Stirling Castle retaken


  • Jamie, herdboy of Drumfyvie
  • King Robert the Bruce of Scotland
  • King Edward the Second of England
  • Rob, the town herd of Drumfyvie, Jamie's master
    • Bobtail and Jaunty, the herd dogs
    • Spottie, a cow with wanderlust
  • Nick Fletcher, Spottie's owner, a former Sheriff-s man-at-arms, now the smith
  • Sir Rolf Maitland, the Sheriff, rotting in an English gaol
  • Sir John Douglas, located under a hawthorn bush, distant kinsman of Sir James Douglas
  • Sir James "the Black" Douglas, the Bruce's right-hand man
  • Sim Ledehouse, siege-ladder-maker


  • Drumfyvie Burgh
    • Drumfyvie Castle, occupied by an English garrison
    • the High Street
    • The East Port
    • Fighting Cocks Lane, a weak place in the fence
  • Border Country
    • Roxburgh, retaken on Fasten Eve
  • Edinburgh Castle, fell midway through Lent
  • Stirling Castle, fell at Midsummer
  • Bannock Burn, battle before Midsummer