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11 Mar 2022

700-year-old Robert the Bruce letter on show at Brodie

The writing of Robert the Bruce, on display after careful conservation work
A rare original letter written in 1312 by the King of Scots, Robert the Bruce, has gone on display after undergoing conservation work.

Visitors to Brodie Castle are able to view the fascinating letter in the handwriting of Scots warrior and Battle of Bannockburn hero, Robert the Bruce, as part of guided tours of the castle.

It is the first time in four years that the document, written in Latin on vellum, has been on view to the public.

In 2018, the letter was removed from public display at the property after it started to fade due to environmental factors, such as light and humidity. To safeguard its future preservation, experts at the Trust began conservation work on the artefact, meticulously removing damaging traces of adhesive and carrying out delicate surface cleaning.

A new mount has been added and, thanks to the public for their many individual donations to our crowdfunder, the total impact of their generosity is that this unique letter is now housed in a state-of-the-art case which will give it the highest standard of protection.

The letter in its state-of-the-art display case in Brodie Castle

Written by King Robert I to Malcolm, Thane of Brodie, the missive is one of the oldest surviving documents in the National Trust for Scotland’s vast collection.

In it, the monarch writes about the maintenance of Brodie Castle. The translation reveals that he demands the Thane of Brodie to take proper care of his mill pond, as its neglect has annoyed the local monks at Pluscarden Abbey near Elgin.

The letter predates the oldest parts of Brodie Castle by about 200 years, and is significant both due to its antiquity and the prominence of its origin. The document is made even more special as it was one of the few family papers to survive a fire at the castle in 1645.

Brodie Castle & Estate

James Dean, Operators Manager at Brodie Castle, said: ‘The letter offers a fascinating insight into Robert the Bruce’s authority as well as medieval kingship and the way of life for landowners 700 years ago.

‘Brodie has a huge richness of stories and artefacts, and we are so grateful to all those who have donated to enable us to undertake vital conservation work and display items for all to enjoy. So many people donated to our crowdfunder to ensure we could put this unique letter back on display. Thank you to the generosity of our supporters for helping us to deliver such an exciting project – we hope lots of people will visit to see this remarkable piece of history and the many other delights of Brodie.’

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