MS: 'Bannockburn: Bruce to his troops'

Robert Burns, Author 
Object Number:


In the 1790s Robert’s trip through the Highlands was still providing him with inspirational source material. Burns had visited the field of the battle of Bannockburn near Stirling in August 1787. He was so moved that he said a fervent prayer at the spot where Robert the Bruce's standard had flown.

This is the second version of the poem which Burns sent to George Thomson on 8 September 1793. George Thomson was a collector of Scottish music who intended to publish volumes of traditional songs. This song appeared in the 1799 edition of A Select Collection of Original Scotish Airs for the Voice.

He set this poem to a tune which he believed Bruce's troops had marched to at the battle of Bannockburn. In the first page of the manuscript, Bruce reminds his followers of past battles, of Wallace and his own efforts, but now he calls them to do what they must to gain freedom from the English oppression.

In these last two verses, Bruce reminds his troops of their current bondage and the efforts which they must make against the tyrannical English invaders to gain Scotland's liberty or die in the attempt.

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