15th century copy of Battle of Bannockburn poem restored

The Bruce Battle of Bannockburn poemThe Brus, which was written in 1375, tells of Robert the Bruce’s wars for Scottish independence and has been restored at St John’s College at Cambridge University.

A copy of a poem revealing the details of the Battle of Bannockburn has been restored for the 700th anniversary of the battle.

“The Brus” is believed to have been written by the Archdeacon of Aberdeen in 1375 and tells of Robert the Bruce’s wars for Scottish independence.

The battle was fought on June 23 and 24 in 1314 and is relived through the 1,400-line poem.

Now, a 15th century copy of the poem has been restored by a team at St John’s College at Cambridge University.

“It’s likely the anniversary will result in a fresh wave of interest in Bannockburn and we wanted the book to be available in a fit state”
~Kathryn McKee, special collections librarian at St John’s College

While there are no surviving copies of the poem written by Archdeacon John Barbour, there are two transcribed versions stored at St John’s College and the National Library of Scotland in Edinburgh.

Written in 1478, the St John’s poem is believed to have been transcribed by John Ramsay, Prior of the Carthusians at Perth.

However, the condition of the manuscript deteriorated after centuries of use by researchers and displays.

The document became unusable as its tight binding made it difficult to open without damaging pages and large amounts of dirt covered sections, but specialists have spent a number of months repairing the book’s pages.

The St John’s team have restored the relic by taking it apart to clean before stitching it back together to match its original 15th century pattern.

Photo credit: SWNS

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