June 2013 | Nate Pedersen

Extremely Rare Robert the Bruce Letter Discovered


A previously unknown, and incredibly rare, letter from Robert the Bruce was uncovered earlier this month by a Scottish academic.  Robert the Bruce led the Scottish forces in the Wars of Independence against England during the Middle Ages. The letter, written to King Edward II of England, calls for an end to "persecution and disturbance."  It was written in 1310, several years before Bannockburn, the decisive battle that would set the path for Scottish independence.

Dr. Dauvit Broun, a professor of Scottish History at the University of Glasgow, found the contents of the letter copied into a manuscript written by the monks of Kirkstall Abbey approximately 500 years ago.  The original letter has not survived.

Broun, quoted in The Independent, said "It's amazingly rare. A freak survival. There's nothing like this that survives from that time."

The contents of the letter suggest that the Bruce was very serious about establishing peace between the two nations - but only if the countries were officially separated and he was recognized as the King of Scotland. The letter apparently had little effect on Edward II, who would soon advance his army into Scotland only to be decisively defeated on the fields of Bannockburn.

The Kirkstall Abbey manuscript that contains the letter is held at the British Library.