The Moffat Ram Moffat Town :- King Robert the Bruce
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They Were Here :
William Wallace * Robert Bruce * Archibald Johnstone * Lord Claverhouse * James Boswell
J.L. McAdam * Thomas Telford * Robert Burns * James Hogg * Charles Lapworth
D.E. Stevenson * Air Chief Marshal Lord Hugh Dowding * Robin Jenkins * Mora Dickson

Robert Bruce, King of Scotland :

The earliest seal of King Robert I

(Page Under Construction)

The Bruce or 'De Bruce' family had been long-established in the Moffat and Lochmaben area long before the Interregnum that lead to Wallace's attempt at maintaining Scottish independence, and Bruce's success. A previous Robert de Bruce had held Auldton Motte, by some considered the foundation of Moffat, granting a chapel to the See of Glasgow in 1177.

Following the death of Alexander III of Scotland in a riding accident on 12th March 1286, Scotland was left without any definite male heir to the throne. There were some thirteen male contenders, plus the infant daughter of Alexander's daughter Margaret, who had married the Kign of Norway in 1281 and died in 1283. A further complication was that Alexander's widowed Queen Yolande was pregnant and might yet bear Scotland a male heir. However, the two most serious contenders were the eighty-year-old Robert Bruce Earl of Annandale and John Balliol of Galloway; both were evenly matched, so six Guardians were appointed. These were two men from each of the Three Estates - the Bishops of St. Andrews and Glasgow, the Earls of Fife and Buchan, and the Lords John Comyn of Badenoch and James the Steward. Bruce of Annandale and his son Robert Earl of Carrick were quick to show their power by seizing the Royal castles of Dumfries and Wigtown as well as the castle at Buittle of Princess Devorguilla, mother to John Balliol.

Edward I of England was initially called in to try and arbitrate between the increasingly armed struggles between the 'Competitors' as guarantor of peace. By 1289 he had tried to betroth his son Edward (then six) to the seven-year-old Margaret, Maid of Norway, Alexander's grand-daughter. That failed in 1290 when the Maid died, so an attempt was made to avoid a civil war by further involving Edward in judging between the Competitors, which 'Great Cause' failed because of unwillingness to come together under John Balliol, the successful candidate. The resulting confusion gave Edward the opportunity he needed for an invasion, sparking events such as the campaigns of William Wallace. The Bruces were ambivalent figures, on occasion supporting Edward of England against their compatriots.

Robert 'the Bruce' capped earlier Borders misadventures by killing the 'Red' Comyn in the Church of the Grey Friars, Dumfries, at a spot marked by cobbles in the 'Friars' Vennel'. The murder of John Comyn of Badenoch has been dressed up as a casual dispute, but in fact destroyed the only serious contender to Bruce following the execution of Wallace. However, the eventual King was not to have an easy time of it, being forced out of Scotland to brief exile on Rathlin Island off Ireland before returning to fight the occupying English garrisons. His attempt to expel the forces of Edward I of England was to end in victory over Edward II at Bannockburn in 1314. Edward I had died on the journey north towards Stirling, his son was no tactician, so it is one of the unknowns of history as to whether the Hammer of the Scots would ever have got the better of The Bruce.

Moffat enters the record of the conflict in 1306 in the verses of the minstrel 'Blind Harry' when he records the meeting of James Douglas - 'The Good Sir James' - with Robert Bruce. They appear to have met near Ericstane Brae, the mediaeval route up the side of Coteshill that was the main west coast route to Edinburgh and Glasgow. In view of the great importance that their alliance was to have, it can be said that their meeting was one of the most crucial in Scotland.

Original Words Translation

"All him alane the way he tais
Towart the towne off Lochmabane;
And, a litill fra Arykstane,
The Bruce with a grat rout he met,
And quhen Douglas saw hys cummyng,
He raid, and hailsyt him in hy
And lowtyt him ful curtasly;
And tald him haly all his state,
And quhat he was,
And quhen the Bruce had heard his will,
He resawyt him in gret daynte
And men and armyss till him gaff he;
He thauct weile he guld be worthy"

Then Douglas alone on his way he rides
Toward the town of Lochmaben;
Then, not far from Ericstane,
He met The Bruce with a large army;
When Douglas saw Bruce approaching,
Douglas rode up and greeted him
With great politeness and deference.
Douglas told Bruce what he wished to do
And just who he (Douglas) was.
Once Bruce had heard him out,
He welcomed Douglas with all honour,
Giving Douglas weapons and men to lead,
For Bruce thought Douglas a man to be trusted."


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All text and images © 1999 Richard Edkins of Dalbeattie Internet.
Moffat Town Website started 9th June 1999.
Last updated 15th December 1999.