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The Bruce's Connection with Our Area

The existence in Dumbarton of a building popularly known as Bruce's Stables, and the nearby housing scheme called Brucehill, have led many to wonder if there is a local connection with the famous Robert the Bruce, King of Scots.

What is certain is that the King died at his manor house at Cardross in 1329. By "Cardross" is meant the Parish of Cardross, and detailed historical research in old documents suggests that the most likely location for The Bruce's house was a piece of land called Pillanflatt, which lay between the extreme south end of modern Renton and what is now Dalmoak farmsteading. All these places were in the medieval parish of Cardross. Here, suffering from some disease (maybe leprosy), he spent the last 3 years of his life. He hunted in the area with hawks, and seemingly kept a lion in a cage, which, as local historian Dr I. M. M. MacPhail once wrote, was armorially appropriate for the King of Scotland.

Interest in the King's connection with this area has revived in very recent times, leading to the formation of a Bruce Committee. Through the efforts of one particularly enthusiastic member of this committee, Stuart Smith, a convincing body of evidence was gathered together that supported the belief that the King's viscera would have been buried within the Parish Churchyard of the place where he was resident and died.

As a result, a plaque was commissioned and unveiled at the old medieval churchyard of Cardross, in Levengrove Park, Dumbarton, on the 1st September, 2001. Lord Elgin (chief of the Bruce family) and West Dunbartonshire Provost Alistair Macdonald were among those who spoke at the unveiling, and representatives of The Church of Scotland and The Roman Catholic Church contributed an appropriate religious dimension to the proceedings.

The wording of the plaque is as follows:

ROBERTUS DEI GRATIA REX SCOTORUM
THIS PLAQUE WAS PLACED HERE TO COMMEMORATE
THE SEPULTURE HERE WITHIN THE RUINED BOUNDS
OF SAINT SERF'S PARISH CHURCH, LITTLE KIRKTON,
OF THE EMBALMED VISCERA FROM THE BODY OF
KING ROBERT 'THE BRUCE'
ON OR ABOUT THE THIRD WEEK OF JUNE 1329.
THE DYING MONARCH REQUESTED THAT HIS HEART BE
TAKEN TO JERUSALEM BY A KNIGHT TEMPLAR IN
FULFILMENT OF A SACRED VOW HE HAD MADE EARLIER
IN HIS REIGN TO GO ON A CRUSADE TO THE HOLY LAND
IN PALESTINE.
ON THE SAME DAY AND AT THE HOUR APPOINTED FOR
THE ENTOMBMENT OF THE KING IN
DUNFERMLINE ABBEY, A SIMULTANEOUS SERVICE OF
SEPULTURE WAS CONDUCTED WITHIN THE PRECINCTS
OF THIS VENERABLE EDIFICE.