Writings of the Lady Mary..
History is a tapestry interwoven with stories, some true, some embellished and some the opinion of others. Despite inconsistencies, there are some facts which continue to shine through the myths; Robert the Bruce is a fact, a historical figure in the history of Scotland as a nation.
700 years have passed since the face of a medieval king has been seen in this land. In 2016 Dr Martin McGregor, a senior lecturer at the University of Glasgow was inspired by the discovery of the skeleton of King Richard 111 who lay buried under a car park in Leicester. Dr McGregor thought that the same technology could be used on the skull of Robert the Bruce. This man has earned his place in history by pursuing his dream of a visual image of the King of Scots.
The Dumfries Courier, December 9, 2016 page 4 reported that “one of his images depicts a man in his prime, with a large and powerful head that would have been supported by a muscular neck and stocky frame.”
When I looked upon Bruce’s digital image, I saw humour in his eyes and a facial expression that made me think this man likes women and he is aware of his own power. I daresay others might look upon him and have a different opinion. I rather like my opinion of this man who become known worldwide and is forever associated with the history of Scotland and the Scottish Wars of Independence.
It would be very nice if we could have a similar project that would include Bruce’s queen, Elizabeth de Burgh. However, it would mean opening their grave at Dunfermline Abbey. I don’t think that will happen any time soon. It would be a major feat to have both Bruce and his queen together in digital images.
The most important figure in any family is the mother. Bruce’s mother is an interesting character. The story of his parents’ marriage is tantalising in the telling. Is it a true fact or is it interlaced with fantasy? His mother, Marjorie, Countess of Carrick was out hunting when his father Robert Bruce came to meet her. Marjorie’s husband, Sir Adam de Kilconquhar was a companion in arms with Robert during the 8th crusade in the Holy Land. Robert brought news of his death to Marjorie.
The death of her husband didn’t appear to upset her unduly. She invited Robert to Turnberry Castle and kept him there for fifteen days. Was it a seduction or a kidnapping? Questions like these make me wish I could travel back in time as a silent observer so I could see for myself the truth of the matter. Fordun, a Scottish historian, gives a lightly different tale of their meeting in his chronicle.
Robert and Marjorie married in secret in 1271. This act of secrecy infuriated King Edward of England. They should have asked his permission to marry. Marjorie was a countess in her own right. She also had wealth and lands. She must have been a formidable woman. Her age is unknown at the time of her marriage to Robert. She loved to hunt and had a great stamina for life. She knew her own mind and went after what she wanted. In modern day terms she may have been described as feisty.
In marrying Robert without the consent of King Edward, she ran the risk of her lands being confiscated and a heavy fine or imprisonment being imposed. Edward retaliated by taking her lands and possessions. It is said that a gift of money to the King or perhaps it was a fine, made him relent and restore her possessions to her. It would appear it was a happy marriage resulting in several children being born to them. Marjorie died in 1292.
This was the family that Robert the Bruce was born into, one which nurtured him and give him certain characteristics, some of which he would have inherited from his mother.