Saturday, August 2, 2008

The herschip of Buchan

As said earlier we do not have any hard evidence regarding the movements of the Bruce brothers as they set out in pursuit of the enemy. Bower mentions a pursuit as far as Fyvie, but has the King leading it.
Entries in the “The New Statistical Account of Scotland” (1845), for New and Old Deer give the following information, which presumably comes from local folklore, relating to place names.

New Deer
“About a mile to the west of the village is an extensive piece of moor called Bruce Hill. This is said to have derived its name from Edward, brother to Robert the Bruce. Here he is reported to have encamped after the battle of Inverury, and from this to have gone in pursuit of the Cummins to a place near Old Deer, called Aikey Brae. In memory of this victory, the market of Aikey fair is said to have been established on the spot where the battle was fought.”

Bruce's Hill
For and accurate location of Bruce Hill follow the attached link
Old Deer

“There are visible proofs still remaining that this parish was formerly the scene of warfare, occasioned by family feuds, civil strife, or the invasion of the country by foreigners. On the top of the hill of Bruxie, and at the Den of Howie, near Fetterangus, there are traces of fortifications and encampments; and near the foot of Arkey-brae, there is a cluster of tumuli, pointing out the graves of warriors who fell in a bloody contest reported to have taken place between Edward, the brother of King Robert the Bruce, and Cumming the Earl of Buchan, with their followers and clansmen.”

Aikey Brae Stone Circle

For and accurate location of Aikey Brae follow the attached link

Whether there was a battle at Aikey Brea or not all the medieval sources are agreed that Robert ordered the destruction of Buchan.

Barbour gives us this account.

Now ga we to the king agayne
That off his victory wes rycht fayn,
And gert his men bryn all Bouchane
Fra end till end and sparyt nane,
And heryit thaim on sic maner
That eftre weile fifty yer
Men menyt the herschip of Bouchane,
The king than till his pes has tane
The north cuntreys that humbly
Obeysyt till his senyoury
Sua that benorth the Month war nane
Then thai his men war everilkan,
His lordship wox ay mar and mar.


Now let us go to the king again,
Who was well pleased at his victory,
And had his men burn all Buchan
From end to end, sparing none.
He harried them in such a way
That a good fifty years afterwards
People bemoaned the devastation of Buchan
The king then took to his peace
the north country which obeyed his lordship humbly
so that north of the Mounth there were none
who were not his subjects one and all.
His lordship spread always more and more

Barbour’s The Brus – Lines 295 – 307
From the Canongate 1997 Edition: Edited by A.A.M. Duncan

Bower’s account seems to “soften” Barbour’s, “sparyt nane”.

….. Advancing thence consumed Buchan with fire
He struck down some of the people and made peace with others,
He scattered his enemies and so came away from there victorious.

And gert his men bryn all Bouchane Fra end till end and sparyt nane
So how do we handle the fact that our national hero instigated, and would continue to instigate events, which would, in modern times, get him a trial in the Hauge?
  • Note: The above pictures are supplied by the following individuals on a “creative commons” license, courtesy of the Geograph site. Thanks to Les Harvey for “Bruce Hill”,
    Chris Lodge for “Aikey Brae Stone circle”, and Martyn Gorman for his picture of “Slains Castle”, which I took the liberty of modifying, and the finished picture therefore carries the same “Creative Commons Licence”

1 comment:

Paul Remfry, Weaver Vale said...

Isn't heirship rather than hardship a better translation of herschip?