Regarded as Scotland’s most successful monarch, Robert the Bruce was a nobleman from the south west, who gained his nation’s crown and won the country’s independence.
The Robert the Bruce Trail in Dumfries & Galloway takes you back 700 years covering where he grew up, how he was influenced by people and where he forged his skills. The main trail is split into three, with an eastern, central and western section, while there is also a Dumfries Town Trail.
On the Eastern Trail you can access the cave in Kirkpatrick Fleming, where legend says that sometime around 1307, after suffering defeat, King Robert went into hiding for three months, and was inspired back into battle by a spider’s relentless effort to spin its web.
You can also play a round of golf on Lochmaben Golf Course and see the ruins of a motte and bailey castle built by the Bruces. You can visit the sites of his first victories in battles at Glentrool and Raploch Moss, where he rested against a granite boulder after defeating an English army, on the Central Trail. The Western Trail includes Whithorn, where Bruce went to pray at St Ninian’s Shrine on a last pilgrimage as he was dying.
In Dumfries, you’ll come across the site of Greyfriars monastery, where in 1306, Bruce murdered John Comyn, his chief rival for the throne, leading to his coronation. The Dumfries Museum and Camera Obscura contains artefacts and replicas which will tell you more about this extraordinary Scot.
You can find more information on the Robert the Bruce Trail and download a free leaflet.
Robert the Bruce led the battle against the English at Bannockburn in 1314. Bruce’s men drove King Edward II’s army homewards, marking a significant milestone in the Scottish Wars of Independence. Walk the battlefield and visit the Bannockburn Heritage Centre. Building work is underway on the brand new state-of-the-art visitor centre which is due to open in 2014, coinciding with the 700th anniversary of the Battle of Bannockburn and the year of Homecoming 2014. Temporary facilities are on-site until the new centre opens.
Just north of Perth city centre, you’ll find Scone Palace where kings of Scotland were crowned, including Macbeth and Robert the Bruce. Take a tour of the main state rooms which house an outstanding collection of antiques. Nearby, in the Fife town of Dunfermline, you can visit Dunfermline Abbey, a stunning example of Romanesque architecture, where the body of Robert the Bruce was laid to rest, notably minus his heart, along with seven other Scottish kings. His heart is believed to be buried in a container in Melrose Abbey in the Scottish Borders.