Tayside and Central Scotland

Tree 'planted by Bruce' used for throne reconstruction

Throne detail Image copyright Strathleven Artizans
Image caption The throne is carved from wood from a tree reputedly planted by Robert the Bruce

A replica of Robert the Bruce's throne has been carved from an ancient tree which he reputedly planted himself.

The reconstruction of the Scottish monarch's throne was carved in an eight-year project after a fire felled the "Bruce tree" at Strathleven House.

Strathleven Artizans completed the project in time to mark the 700th anniversary of the Battle of Bannockburn.

The chair will be on display at the Bannockburn Live event at the weekend.

The tree from which the throne is carved was planted at Strathleven House at about the time Robert owned the estate, and was known locally as "the Bruce tree".

When the 18ft tree was felled by a fire in 2005, the timber was salvaged by Strathleven Artizans. a local historical group.

Image copyright Strathleven Artizans
Image caption The reconstructed throne features the clawed feet and carved beasts seen in the Bruce's official seal

Using an image from the Bruce's official cast metal seal, which he used to authenticate documents, the group set about building a recreation of a throne the King sat on during his 23-year reign.

The seal shows the Bruce sitting on a throne with clawed feet and the carved heads of four beasts, supposedly to protect him from attackers from all sides.

'Captivating tale'

As well as wood from the Strathleven tree, the wooden support for the throne is made from yew timber from Elderslie, the birthplace of William Wallace.

Ancient olive wood from Teba Spain is also incorporated to mark Robert the Bruce's embalmed heart being carried into battle by Crusaders there in 1330.

Duncan Thomson, chairman of Strathleven Artizans, said the story of Robert the Bruce had "captivated people for generations".

Image copyright Strathleven Artizans
Image caption Four carved beasts face off in different directions, supposedly to protect the Bruce from all angles

He said: "We hope that in tirelessly reconstructing his throne to commemorate the 700th anniversary of the Battle of Bannockburn, we once again bring the great monarch's story to life, not only to those who are familiar to it already but to a whole new audience and for future generations.

"This project has been both a celebration of traditional skills and a tool for education for both young and old."

'Talking point'

Along with a number of other backers, including renowned wood carver John Donaldson, Historic Scotland got involved in the project by providing the skills of a master carpenter using traditional techniques.

Conservation director David Mitchell said he was "very pleased" Historic Scotland could help with the project.

He said: "While minimal evidence made it difficult to recreate a wholly authentic throne, the process of re-creating it and highlighting aspects of Bruce's life are just as important in this case, and it will certainly be a talking point.

"Incorporating wood from sites across the country and further afield, the throne is a celebration of traditional skills and helps to tell Bruce's story."

The replica throne is being unveiled at Dunfermline Abbey by the Earl of Elgin, a descendant of the Bruce and backer of the project, before it is taken to the Bannockburn Visitor Centre for the two-day Bannockburn Live event over the weekend.

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