21 March 2022
A letter written by Robert the Bruce has made a return to its home at Brodie Castle after a four-year absence.
Visitors to the National Trust for Scotland property near Forres in Morayshire will now be able to view the restored 700-year-old document.
Written on vellum in 1312, the letter has not been on public display since 2018 as it has been undergoing conservation work by Trust specialists. In the letter Robert the Bruce, who ruled Scotland between 1306 and 1329, writes to Malcolm, Thane of Brodie, about the maintenance of the castle. The Bruce instructs the Thane of Brodie to take better care of the castle's mill pond as its neglect has annoyed the neighbours - the monks at Pluscarden Abbey near Elgin.
A crowdfunder launched by the Trust raised over £5,000 towards the document’s preservation. Trust experts have painstakingly removed damaging traces of adhesive, carried out delicate surface cleaning and added a new mount.
Visitors will now be able to view the restored letter, which is displayed in a special new protective case, during guided tours around Brodie Castle. Written in Latin, the epistle is one of the oldest surviving documents within the conservation charity’s collection. It is made even more special as it was one of the few family papers to survive a fire at the castle in 1645.
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James Dean, Operations Manager at Brodie Castle, said: “It is rare for centuries’ old documents like this to survive intact and still be legible, so we are very honoured to care for this special piece of our past, especially as it was written by such a towering figure in Scottish history.
"The fantastic response to our crowdfunding appeal shows that the public also hold it in great regard and consider it an important part of Scotland's heritage and we are grateful to all our supporters for their contribution to conserving this incredible item. The restoration work means the letter can now be enjoyed by many more people and has been preserved for years to come, adding to the rich collections and histories that are held here at Brodie Castle for everyone to experience and enjoy."
To find out more about Brodie Castle and book a castle tour visit the Brodie Castle website.
(Report and images courtesy and copyright National Trust for Scotland)