Robert the Bruce’s document linked to Scottish independence to be auctioned
A document by Robert the Bruce granting land to a supporter of the Scottish Wars of Independence is auctioned.
The Letters Patent are in Bruce’s name as King of Scotland and grant land at ‘Uthirtyre’ – now Auchtertyre in Angus – to independence supporter Sir William Oliphant, and are expected to bring in up to £ 30,000.
The land was granted in exchange for the feudal service of three archers in the king’s army.
The document, hammered through at the Scottish auction at the Bonhams auction house in Edinburgh on October 15, is printed on vellum and dated March 20, 1326.
He records that the land grant was witnessed by William de Lamberton, Bishop of St Andrews; Bernard of Kilwinning, abbot of Arbroath; Duncan, Earl of Fife; Maol Iosa, Earl of Strathearn; Walter Stewart, High Steward of Scotland (son-in-law of Robert the Bruce and father of Robert II, the first Stewart monarch) and Sir Gilbert of The Hague, Lord High Constable.
The document bears an indistinct fragment of the Great Seal.
Its existence was well known to scholars, but its location was unknown for almost a century and it is now sold by a UK-based private collector.
Oliphant was a veteran of Scotland’s previous battles for independence from England, most notably the Battle of Dunbar in 1296, when King Edward I attempted to conquer Scotland.
The Scottish nobleman swore allegiance to Bruce, possibly after the Battle of Bannockburn in June 1314, when Bruce defeated the English army of King Edward II.
Oliphant was one of 51 Scottish Barons and Earls who put their seals on the Arbroath Declaration in 1320, which called on the Pope to recognize the independence of Scotland and to recognize Robert the Bruce as the rightful king of the country , after being crowned at Scone Palace 14 years earlier.
In 1328, the Treaty of Edinburgh was signed, with the government of young Edward III granting Scotland full recognition as a sovereign nation.
Bonhams Scotland Managing Director Charles Graham-Campbell said: “This is something that really resonates with a lot simply because it connects so many people back then who were supporting Robert the Bruce in his quest to win back Edward’s Scotland. III and reclaim it as a sovereign nation.
“He allots land to Sir William Oliphant who was a great supporter of independence. He was at the Battle of Dunbar, the Battle of Stirling and Bannockburn. Much of the Scottish history of this era is part of this document.
“It’s the kind of thing that usually doesn’t get sold that often. This is something that you, I, or anyone else could bid on and have a chance to acquire.
“I suspect that with what’s going on in Scotland right now, it will be seen as an incredible document to have.
“People here or in the Scottish Diaspora spread around the world might well think this is a beautiful piece of Scottish history to have.”
He said the document had never been exhibited and was in “remarkably good condition”.