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The Lost Tomb of Robert the Bruce exhibition at Abbotsford House


The first ever three-dimensional model of the tomb of Robert the Bruce is to go on display at Abbotsford House in the Scottish Borders.

‘The Lost Tomb of Robert the Bruce’ is the culmination of cutting-edge archaeological research conducted by various Scottish heritage bodies, utilising original artefacts to produce the first ever three-dimensional digital model of the Bruce Tomb.  This will be on display in the temporary exhibition room within the historic house from 11 April to 30 November 2015.


Robert the Bruce, the famed warrior king of Scotland from 1306, led Scotland to victory in the Scottish Wars of Independence and is considered a national hero. On his death in 1329 Bruce was buried in the choir of Dunfermline Abbey and his grave was marked by a white marble tomb imported from Paris. This monument was later destroyed, most probably during the Reformation era. 

During the early 19th Century what were believed to be his remains were discovered with fragments of carved and gilded marble from the vanished tomb. These relics subsequently found their way into museum collections in Edinburgh, Glasgow and Dunfermline and at least one fragment fell into the hands of one Sir Walter Scott and was discovered at Abbotsford. 

The history of the Abbotsford fragment is shrouded in mystery; but Scott acquired the Entrance Hall panelling from Dunfermline Abbey in 1817-18, along with the cast of Robert the Bruce’s skull, so it is likely that the fragment arrived here around the same time. Visitors to the exhibition will be able to see all the known fragments in existence, including Scott’s fragment, mounted against a graphic backdrop to illustrate the overall effect. 


Kirsty Archer-Thompson, Heritage & Engagement Manger for the Abbotsford Trust, said: ‘We are delighted to be bringing this fantastic exhibition to Abbotsford this year, giving both the local community and visitors to the Borders the chance to find out more about the final resting place of Scotland’s most famous king. It is fitting that Sir Walter Scott, the man who ignited such passion for Scottish history, acquired a piece of this archaeological jigsaw puzzle.  Everyone involved in the project is thrilled that the public can see this precious collection of remaining fragments back together again.’

The Lost Tomb of Robert the Bruce is a collaboration between the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland (RCAHMS), Historic Scotland, Fife Cultural Trust, The Hunterian Museum (University of Glasgow), National Museums Scotland, the National Records of Scotland, the Abbotsford Trust, and the Digital Design Studio (Glasgow School of Art).

The exhibition runs from 11 April to 30 November 2015 and is subject of the entrance ticket price to visit the House.

Abbotsford, Melrose, Roxburghshire TD6 9BQ; tel: 01896 752043; website.

Read our special expert history of the piety of Robert the Bruce.

(Abbotsford House image copyright Finlago)

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02/04/2015 Share this story   Share on Facebook icon Share on Twitter icon Share on Pinterest icon Share on Google Plus icon Share on Linked In icon Share via Email icon

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