Robert The Bruce looms as one of the most famous Kings in Scottish History, primarily because he led one of the more successful rebellions against the English, some 700 years ago. William Wallace might have been the psycho with the big sword, as played by Mel Gibson in “Braveheart”, but it was Robert who went on to rule the country.
In popular folklore he is also known for watching a spider in a cave, while he was on the run from the Edward I, that refused to give up and eventually managed to spin its web, leading to the famous phrase “If at first you don’t succeed try, try again.”
Needless to say, with such a legend of the land, everywhere in Scotland likes to lay claim to him, especially for the sake of tourism, and this corner of Scotland is no different. Because many of the battles with the English took place in Southern Scotland, it is not uncommon to stumble across a “Bruce’s Stone” here and there to commemorate a victory or two.
Yesterday the kids and I visited “Bruce’s Stone” on the shores of Clatteringshaws Loch. There are signposts for it from miles away. Eventually you turn off the main road and bounce along a dirt track before parking up and walking the final stretch along a muddy path, out into the marshy surrounds to reach a chunk of rock sticking about 8 feet out of the ground. Next to the rock is a sign saying that after a skirmish with the English in 1307, “it is said that Robert the Bruce rested against this stone”
You can’t help but feel that the Scottish Tourist Board are pushing it a bit, if they have to promote a chunk of rock that Rabbie was rumoured to have leant against, 699 years ago.
Rogan barely had time to clamber on top of it, though, when Meg boldly proclaimed she needed a pee. She does have a habit of making this announcement at some of the most awkward times, but we have learned to our cost that it’s not always a good idea to call her bluff. There was a real bite to the cold wind and in this exposed area, the only slight bit of shelter for 250 metres was Bruce’s Stone itself (a good picture of the stone can be found on the web here: http://www.geography.dur.ac.uk/ForestSAFE/WFD/files/BrucesStone.gif). So as, I would guess, many people have done before, and many more will do in times to come, Meg left her mark on this historic monument.
Clearly an irreverent streak runs through the blood somewhere, I thought, as Rogan booted a wee stone along the path muttering, “I wonder if Robert the Bruce kicked this pebble?”
So, not the most successful of educational trips out. And once home we had to endure more of Maggie’s comfort baking (see Baking a Cake), which this time turned out to be mouth-wateringly, sweet, crumbly, buttery rock buns.