Statement of Special Interest
Bruce's Stone is a large and distinctive granite monument erected in 1929 to commemorate one of the first victories of Robert the Bruce over the English at the beginning of the Wars of Independence. It is constructed from locally available granite and was designed to reference the battle, which was traditionally thought to be won by Bruce's men throwing boulders on to the English troops. The monument has a spectacular unaltered setting on the north side of Loch Trool and overlooks the probable site of the battle. It can also be read as evidence for the wider 20th century Scottish nationalist movement, which was gathering momentum during the 1920s.
Age and Rarity
This granite monument was erected on 5 June 1929 to commemorate the victory of Robert the Bruce at the Battle of Glen Trool in 1307 and was paid for by public subscription. 1929 was the 600th anniversary of Bruce's death and the erection of this memorial was one of a number of events in the country at the time to mark the occasion. A report in the Galloway Gazette of 15 June 1929 notes that a crowd of over 300 spectators attended the ceremony, including the historian Sir Herbert Maxwell and Professor Robert Rait, the Historiographer Royal for Scotland and Professor of Scottish History and Literature at Glasgow University from 1913-1929. The newspaper also reports that a leaden casket containing ancient and modern coins was placed beneath the large boulder.
A report in the Dundee Evening Telegraph of 15 May 1929 records a number of events that were organised around the country for the 600th anniversary of Bruce's death, including commemorations at Cardross Castle in Dumbarton where Bruce died, and at the Borestone, at the field of Bannockburn, near Stirling. A bronze statue of Bruce in a niche at the gatehouse of Edinburgh Castle was also unveiled as part of these commemorations.
The Battle of Glen Trool, considered more of a skirmish by some historians, took place around March/April 1307 and was an early victory for Robert the Bruce in his fight for Scottish independence from the English and Edward I in the campaign known as the First Wars of Independence. The inscription on the stone states that the battle at Glen Trool opened the campaign and that it terminated with the Battle of Bannockburn in 1314. The wars did not finally end, however, until the signing of the Edinburgh-Northampton Treaty in 1328, which recognised Scotland as an independent kingdom.
In 1306, Robert the Bruce crowned himself King of Scotland and a number of battles and skirmishes followed between Bruce and his supporters and those who opposed his claim, including Edward I of England. Following defeats in 1306 at Methven (Perthshire) and Dail Righ (Ayrshire), Bruce went into hiding, possibly to the Western Isles. He returned to the mainland in 1307 to fight for his claim and he eventually established a camp at Glen Trool. Bruce used guerrilla type warfare tactics at this point, hiding himself in the hills and making it hard for the English troops to know his exact whereabouts. They were aware of his presence in the area, however, as a previous skirmish at Moss Raploch, now on the east side of Clatteringshaws Loch, had ended with victory for Bruce. A large erratic boulder at the site (currently owned by the National Trust of Scotland) is also named Bruce's Stone and is traditionally thought to be where he rested after the battle.
At Glen Trool, Bruce gained advantage over the English troops, who were led by the Earl of Pembroke, by taking higher ground. Popular tradition tells that Bruce ambushed the English soldiers by throwing boulders down on them. Taken by surprise, the English troops fled. Bruce's Stone is positioned to overlook the most likely site of the battle.
The anniversary of Robert the Bruce's death saw a number of monuments erected to commemorate his significance in Scottish history. An equestrian statue in Stirling, one of the most significant monuments to Bruce, came slightly later for the 650th anniversary of the Battle of Bannockburn. It is listed at category A (LB49860). Bruce's Stone can also be placed in the wider context of the period.
The 1920s was a significant period in memorialisation and commemoration following the huge impact of the First World War. The Scottish National War memorial was opened in 1927, and by this date thousands of memorials to Scotland's fallen, varying in scale and architectural ambition, had been erected in every community across the country.
While the design of the Bruce's Stone monument is informal, its concept - built up of large stones found in the area – directly reflects how the battle is thought to have been fought with boulders (see below). Its setting and location also add significantly to its special interest (see below). Moreover, Bruce's Stone can also be considered an important marker of the contemporary growing interest in Scottish nationalism and national identity, as it was erected shortly after the Scottish National Party was founded in 1928.
Architectural or Historic Interest
Technological excellence or innovation, material or design quality
The monument is made of erratic Loch Doon granite. This granite originates from the Loch Doon area of Ayrshire and information from The British Geological Survey on SCRAN notes that erratic boulders of Loch Doon granite can be found in a wide surrounding area as they were moved by glacial activity. It is likely, therefore, that the boulders used for this monument were found locally. There were a number of granite quarries in Dumfries and Galloway, particularly in the 19th and early 20th centuries. The local firm, Galloway Granite, was established in 1928 by a Mackenzie family who were stone masons. The report of the unveiling of the stone in the Galloway Gazette of 15 June, 1929 notes that the sculptor for the stone was a Mr Mackenzie.
The design of the monument, using small boulders as a base and a large boulder on top, is a direct reference to the tradition that Bruce won the battle by sending boulders down onto the English troops. The monument sits on a natural rocky pavement and the use of local stone can be interpreted as conscious design decision to link the monument, and therefore Bruce, to the Galloway Hills.
Whilst the choice of materials is an important feature of the monument, the overall design is not exceptional in architectural terms. Other monuments to Bruce, for example the equestrian statue at Bannockburn (listed at category A) have more detailed architectural elements.
The monument is situated on an elevated and remote spot on the north side of Loch Trool, with far-reaching views to the east and west along the loch. It is situated in an unaltered, prominent and spectacular setting across the Loch from the most likely site of the battle and its position is therefore an important part of its interest.
Close Historical Associations
The criteria for listing state that close historical associations with nationally important people, or events whose associations are well-documented, where the physical fabric is also of some quality and interest, can be a significant factor. The fabric should also reflect the person or event. The Bruce's Stone monument was erected to commemorate King Robert the Bruce, King of Scotland from 1306-1329, who secured Scotland's independence from England and was a nationally important figure in the history of Scotland. The fabric and design of the monument is relevant to the battle.