Dumfries & Galloway set to celebrate the 750th anniversary of the birth of Robert the Bruce, with an exciting series of events with local communities across the region.
The Medieval Bruce Heritage Trust in partnership with The People’s Project Dumfries and The Imaginarium’s Gallovidian Way, alongside local community organisations and businesses will be celebrating the 750th anniversary of the birth of Robert the Bruce. The 5 month long programme of events will showcase the influential and pivotal role Dumfries & Galloway played in the life and times of the most famous King Of Scots, and its lasting impact on Scottish Medieval history
Robert the Bruce is known as a visionary leader, accepted as Scotland’s most successful monarch and is one of Scotland’s most iconic heroes. He was also Lord of Annandale, Dumfries & Galloway, the seat of the Bruce family. He was influenced by its people, friends and foe, and it was where he forged his alliances, and honed the skills that provided the foundations from which he propelled his journey to the throne.
Through a variety of community-led cultural activities dotted across the region, the Robert the Bruce 750th programme aims to showcase the vital role D&G played in the story of Scotland, while generating opportunities to explore this vibrant region as it is now.
The programme will bring to life our wealth of hidden histories and the story of The Bruce through a series of educational experiences, walks, talks, tours, films and interactive themed events.
Saturday 10th February will see the launch of the first series of events in the RtB750 calendar. More events will be announced in March, when additional dates will be released for a series of RtB related talks, community events & interactive tours.
The RtB750 programme will simultaneously be launched online and in person at ‘The Commemoration of the Slaying of the Red Comyn’; a living history storytelling event, delivered by The Medieval Bruce Heritage Trust. People are invited to gather at Greyfriars Church, Dumfries at 11:00am where they will witness the Bruce in procession to the site of the slaying, and will then be invited into Greyfriars Church, where they will meet The Bruce family and friends, who will share their stories and the impacts of that fateful day in Dumfries.
The Slaying of Sir John ‘the Red’ Comyn lll, Lord of Badenoch, changed the course of history in 1306, it was the event that set Robert the Bruce on the path to the Scottish Throne and its commemoration provides a fitting start to this year’s celebrations.
‘The Commemoration of the Slaying of the Red Comyn’ has become a tradition marked every year by the Medieval Bruce Heritage Trust on the exact date and location that the slaying took place, in the heart of medieval Dumfries.
Between 12pm – 4pm on Saturday 10th February you will also be able to drop in to Dumfries Museum for themed craft activities, and to explore their new display about Greyfriars in Dumfries.
At 1pm, join a ‘Medieval Meander’ around Dumfries Town Centre. This walking tour delivered by Tom Hughes of Dumfries Museum leaves from Greyfriars Church where you will learn more about how Dumfries would have looked at the time of the Bruce, venturing further into the town’s Medieval history.
Then at 3pm, to mark the closing of this historic day, there will be a medieval Vespers Service in Greyfriars Church, held in memory of the Red Comyn, to commemorate the end of his life. This will be a chance to time travel, immersing yourself in the experience of an authentic medieval religious ceremony, one that would have been familiar to the Bruce and his contemporaries. This ceremony will be delivered by The Bishop of Whithorn, Diocese of the British Isles, in collaboration with Medieval Bruce Heritage Trust & The Gallovidian Way.
The day will conclude at 7pm with an exploration of the home of Bruce’s companion on that fateful day, Roger ‘Mak Siccar’ Kirkpatrick, the man who delivered the fatal blows to the Red Comyn. The award winning Mostly Ghostly will offer their tour of Closeburn Castle, the ancient seat of the Clan Kirkpatrick, and a true hidden gem steeped in dramatic history.
This day of events on the 10th February will act as a taster for the kind of events that will be delivered during the 5 month long programme of RtB750 activities, running from Feb-July 2024, culminating in a weekend of celebrations in Dumfries on 13th and 14th July 2024 the closest weekend to Robert the Bruce’s 750th birthday. Events that weekend will include a Medieval Market, Storytelling, Living History, Re-enactments, Themed Family Entertainment, Tours and special live performances from acts including the sensational Clanadonia, who will bring their high energy tribal Scottish music to the streets of Dumfries for the first time, and into the Court of De Brus.
The team are working with a number of different community organisations supporting them to organise their own local events and activities to add to the programme over the upcoming months. They hope to inspire the region to take ownership of their stories, elevating the profile of the multifaceted and fascinating range of local history associated with the life and times of Robert the Bruce.
The programme seeks to follow in the footsteps of Robert the Bruce, into the various places and spaces that he frequented across Dumfries and Galloway. Each location will bring to life the influential parts each place played in the Bruce’s story, and the shaping of Scottish history, celebrating the heritage and ancestry of the region, and the inspiring hidden histories that lie dormant in each local community, as we follow The Bruce Trail across Dumfries & Galloway.
The project aims to quite literally put King Robert the Bruce’s expansive history within Dumfries & Galloway on the map.
The initial programme of events will be launched on Saturday 10th February. Communities who are inspired by the programme are invited to get involved in the celebrations by hosting their own events between February and the finale of his birthday celebrations in July. Medieval Bruce Heritage Trust will happily advertise their events on their website’s Diary of Events.
To find out more about the initial events, visit brucetrust.co.uk/750
Please visit the website on Saturday 10th February when RtB750 will reveal their exciting calendar of events, OR head along to one of their launch events in person to pick up a hard copy of the programme
The team are incredibly grateful to their main sponsors of the programme for their generous support: Jardine Funerals, Historic Environment Scotland, Dumfries & Galloway Arts Festival.
We are also very thankful for the enthusiasm, support and very special contributions of our key collaborators: Mostly Ghostly, Dumfries Devorgilla Rotary Club, Dumfries Museum, D&G Heritage Service, Dumfries & Galloway Council, Wordsmithcrafts, HM Prison Dumfries, Guid Nychburris Association, Dumfries Family History Society, Visit Scotland and The Barony of Buittle.
Mark Jardine, Founder of The People’s Project, Dumfries stated: “These incredible events, celebrating the 750th birthday of Robert the Bruce are not to be missed, so mak siccar and put them in your diary.”
Elizabeth West, Chairperson of Medieval Bruce Heritage Trust:
“We are so excited and delighted by the programme and our wonderful partners. We are eagerly looking forward to finally putting Dumfries & Galloway at the heart of Scottish medieval history.”
DJ McDowall, Creative Director of The Imaginarium / The Gallovidian Way: “We have had thee most incredible response to this project, it’s been overwhelmingly heartening. The purpose of RtB750 has captured the imagination and enthusiasm of the people of Dumfries & Galloway, who are clearly ready to embrace the hidden histories of our region, reclaiming and heralding their ancestral connections, which includes King Robert the Bruce, and so many other inspirational and influential Gallovidians whose memories have been lost in the mists of time – it’s time for them to make a long overdue, triumphant return!”