The Heart

by Isabelle S. Lockhart

Robert the Bruce

Robert the Bruce reigned as King of Scotland 1306-1329. Symon Loccard (who Douglas’ Baronage lists as the 6th of Lockhart of Lee and Simon Macdonald Lockhart’s “Seven Centuries” lists as the 2nd of Lee 1300) fought alongside King Bruce in the struggle to free Scotland from English domination. King Bruce bestowed the honor of knighthood upon Symon, thereafter, Sir Symon.

Robert the Bruce King Bruce had requested, that upon his death, his heart be taken to the Holy Land and carried in the fight against the enemies of Christ. “It was to commemorate Sir Symon’s part in this adventure and the honour done to the family that at some later date the name was changed to Lockheart and afterwards abbreviated to Lockhart. A heart within a fetterlock was from then on included in the arms of the family with the motto ‘Corda Serata Pando’ (I open locked hearts).” ["Seven Centuries" by Simon Macdonald Lockhart.]

Prelude to The Adventure

“Finally in Oct. 1328, the Pope lifted the interdict from Scotland and the excommunication of Robert (who) now felt his death approaching and the need to make peace with God. King Bruce spent Christmas of 1328 at Cardross where he recouperated enough to go on a pilgrimage to the shrine of St. Ninian, near Wigtownshire . . . He was carried by stretcher on a last visit to St. Ninian. They got as far as Castle Kennedy by Stranraer when he had a relapse.” King Robert the Bruce “recovered enough after a month to go on to the shrine by April 1. He fasted four or five days and prayed to the saint.” ["Robert the Bruce" by Ronald McNair Scott.]

Castle Kennedy

Castle Kennedy, alternate view

St. Ninian was a bishop and missionary to Whithorn in the 5th century A.D. at a stone church known as Candida Casa, which he founded as Scotland’s first Christian Church. St. Ninian’s shrine is at the cathedral-priory, now in ruins, at Whithorn.

St. Ninian’s Cathedral Ruins, Whithorn, Scotland

The museum near the Cathedral houses stone crosses and monuments dating from c. 450 A.D., the oldest in the collection being that of the Latinus Stone. St. Ninian’s Chapel, now in ruins, on the Isle of Whithorn, was built in 1300 on top of the old St. Ninians Chapel. It served pilgrims going to St. Ninian’s shrine in Whithorn.

St. Ninian’s Chapel, Isle of Whithorn

St. Ninian’s Chapel, Isle of Whithorn, alternate view

“Then by slow stages they took him (Robert the Bruce) northwards through Galloway and Carrick and then back to Cardross by the end of April.” ["Robert the Bruce" by Ronald McNair Scott.] The return journey home took King Bruce through familiar territory and many memories. For it was from the hill of Mulldonoch at Glen Trool in 1307 that Robert Bruce and his men rolled huge boulders down onto the enemy, to start their fight for Scotland’s independence that led to the decisive victory over the English at Bannockburn in 1314.

Monument at Glen Trool

Text of Monument at Glen Trool

Glen Trool with Hill of Mulldonoch in Background

Loch Trool at Glen Trool

“Now he (King Bruce) was feeling the weakness increasing daily. He sent letters to all the leading men of the kingdom to come to him. They pledged their support to the King’s son and to obey him when he came of age when he would be their King.

” ‘Sirs,’ he said, ‘my day is far gone and there remains but one thing, to meet Death without fear, as every man must do. I thank God he has given me the space to repent in this life, for through me and my wars, there has been a great spilling of blood and many an innocent man has been slain. Therefore I take this sickness and this pain as a penance for my sins.’ ” ["Robert the Bruce" by Ronald McNair Scott.]

King Bruce said that he had hoped to be able to go in person to fight against the heathens but now he would not be able. He asked his men to choose one among them to carry his heart against the enemies of Christ.

“Then James Douglas knelt beside the King, and when he could speak for weeping he thanked him for all the benefits he had received since he first came into his service, but above all that he had been given the honour of taking into his keeping his master’s heart, which all the world knew was so full of nobleness and valour.” [Ronald McNair Scott quoting from "The Brus" by John Barbour, c. 1375.]

King Robert the Bruce died June 7, 1329, not quite 55 years old. His heart was taken on “The Adventure” and his body was buried inside Dunfermline Abbey beneath an impressive monumental slab.

Tomb of Robert the Bruce, Dunfermline Abbey

Dunfermline Abbey

The Adventure

Before King Robert the Bruce died June 7, 1329, he had asked his men to carry his heart against the enemies of Christ. His heart was placed in a little silver and enameled casket which Sir James Douglas placed around his neck.

“In 1329 a band of Scottish knights set out to fulfil the last wish of their dead King. Their leader, Lord James Douglas, carried the King’s heart in ‘ane cas of silver fyn, enamilit throu subtilite’ hung about his neck. Beside him rode Sir Symon Locard, carrying the key of the casket. Sir Symon had won fame and distinction in the wars against the English; and now he was entrusted with the key of the precious casket.” ["Seven Centuries" by Simon Macdonald Lockhart, quoting from Froissart the French poet and chronicler of the 14th century.]

“Early in the spring of 1330, he (Douglas) set sail from Berwick in a ship fitted out in royal state so that all might know he was the bearer of the heart of Robert, King of Scotland, and on his way to lay it in the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem. He had on board six knights, linked in friendship, neighbouring landowners from the Stewart domains: Sir William Sinclair of Roslyn, Sir Robert and Sir Walter Logan, Sir William Keith, Sir Alan Cathcart and Sir Symon Loccard of Lee, and one other knight unnamed. Twenty-six squires and gentlemen were there to serve them.” [Ronald McNair Scott, quoting from a Cathcart family manuscript.]

Seaport at Berwick

Looking Seaward from Port at Berwick

“They stopped first at Sluys in Flanders where they stayed 12 days, entertaining lavishly on gold and silver plate on board their ship and inviting all who wished to fight in the Holy Land to come along. There were rough seas between them and the Mediterranean.” ["Robert the Bruce" by Ronald McNair Scott.]

Route of Knights From Berwick to Valencia

Illustrated by Isabelle S. Lockhart

” . . . thence they sailed to Spain and landed at Valencia. Hearing that King Alphonso of Castile was engaged in an attempt to drive the Saracens from his country, they offered him their services. . . . They joined Alphonso’s army and took part in a battle at Teba. As a result of a misunderstood order at the start of the battle the Scots charged prematurely and became surrounded. When Douglas saw Sir William St. Clare of Roslin in dire straits, tradition says he seized the casket from his neck and flung it into the fray shouting as he did so: ‘Be thou in the van brave heart as thou wast ever wont, and Douglas will follow or die.’ The battle was won and the casket with the precious heart safely recovered, but Douglas their gallant leader lay dead on the field. . . . Disheartened . . . they abandoned the expedition and returned home with Bruce’s heart.” ["Seven Centuries" by Simon Macdonald Lockhart.]

Castle of the Star, Teba, Spain (photograph courtesy of Chris Barrett)

Castle of the Star, Teba, Spain, alternative view (photograph courtesy of Chris Barrett)

Monument to Sir James Douglas, Teba, Spain (photograph courtesy of Chris Barrett)

The Lee Penny

“At the battle of Teba Sir Symon Locard took prisoner an Emir of wealth and distinction for whom he demanded a ransom. When the Prince’s mother came to pay the price a jewel dropped from her purse, and by the haste with which she recovered it, Sir Symon guessed it to be valuable. He demanded that it be added to the ransom and the mother surrendered it rather than lose her son. She told Sir Symon that the stone was more valuable than the gold and silver he had taken from her for it was a sovereign remedy against bleeding and fever, the bite of a mad dog, and the sickness in horses and cattle. Such is the tradition of The Lee Penny.

“The charm itself is dark red in colour and triangular in shape and is mounted on a silver coin which hangs from a silver chain. The coin has been identified as a groat (a silver fourpenny piece) of the reign of Edward IV (1422-1483) indicating that the charm was set in the coin long after Sir Symon took it so arbitrarily from the Saracen woman.

The Lee Penny

“The Penny is used by dipping it in water with ‘twa dips and a swirl.’ The water can then be drunk or used to wash a wound or to bathe the patient. No words must be spoken in the process or the cure will be ineffective.” One could be accused of the heinous offense of sorcery if words were used in the process.

“The fame of the Penny spread through Scotland and Northern England and there are many recorded occasions when it was employed with apparent success. It was common practice right into the 19th century for a bottle of Lee Penny Water to be kept in every byre in the district against the day when sickness might attack the stock.

“The importance and value of the Penny was demonstrated in 1707 when John Lockhart specifically mentioned it in his Will as ‘. . . a precious stone full of physical virtues sett into silver antiently belonging to the family of Lee. Commonly called the Lee Penny estimate (value) eight hundred pounds.’

“Sir Walter Scott used the story of its [the Lee Penny] acquisition by the family as the basis for his novel, ‘The Talisman.’

“The Talisman [the Lee Penny] lives with the family still, encased in its gold snuff-box, a gift from Maria Theresa, Empress of Austria, to Count Lockhart.

“In the 1780s, he [James Lockhart, born 1727, the second son of George Lockhart and Fergusia Wishart] was in the service of the Grand Duke of Tuscany, grandson of Maria Theresa. In 1783 came the culminating honour; on March 17th he was created a Count of the Holy Roman Empire with the title of Count Lockhart-Wischeart [Wishart] of Lee and Carnwath.” ["Seven Centuries" by Simon Macdonald Lockhart.]

James (Count Lockhart) was heir to the estate of the Lee after his eldest brother George’s death in 1761. Upon receipt of the gold with enameled inlay snuff-box from Empress Maria Theresa, the Lee Penny and the gold snuff-box came together.

The Gold Snuff Box

The dark red, triangular shaped jewel of 1330 was mounted upon a 1422-1483 silver fourpenny piece with an attached chain, all encased in a 1783 gold snuff-box, and referred to as the Lee Penny. From the kindness of the present Lockhart of Lee and Carnwath, Bill and I have held the Lee Penny in our own hands–our own adventure!

The Gold Snuff Box

Historical Moment

While in Bratislava, Slovakia in 1998, we marvelled at the architecture and the history of St. Martin’s Cathedral where Maria Theresa was coronated in 1741. The Cathedral has a beautiful reticulated ribbed vaulted ceiling and the tower formed part of the medieval fortifications of the city.

The Cathedral was dedicated in 1452, after a construction period of 100 years. From 1563-1830, the Cathedral was a coronation church where 11 kings and 8 queens (including Maria Theresa) of the Hungarian Kingdom were crowned. It was not until later that we learned this Maria Theresa was the one who gifted the snuff-box to Count Lockhart of Lee and Carnwath.

After The Adventure

Robert the Bruce’s heart is buried at Melrose Abbey. In the 1996 archealogical excavations of the Chapter House floor of Melrose Abbey, the team investigated the heart which had been removed from its burial place beneath the floor. Within a casket, there was a smaller conical lead casket about 10 inches high and 4 inches in diameter at the base tapering to a flat top about one and a half inches in diameter. There was also an engraved copper plaque with an inscription stating that it had been found once before in 1921 by “His Majesty’s Office of Works.” The smaller casket was not opened and remained in safe keeping until its reburial in June 1998 in the location of the Chapter House at Melrose Abbey. Marking the reburial place is a round stone slab with the inscription, “A NOBLE HART MAY HAVE NANE EASE, GIF, FREEDOM, FAILYE.”

Burial Site of Robert the Bruce’s Heart, Melrose Abbey

Stone Sculpture Marking the Grave of Robert the Bruce’s Heart

A plaque at Melrose Abbey states that Sir William Keith repatrioted to Scotland both the heart of Robert I, the Bruce and the heart of Sir James Douglas.

There is a memorial grave for Sir James Douglas inside St. Bride’s Church at Douglas, South Lanarkshire, Scotland.

St. Bride’s Church, Douglas, Lanarkshire, Scotland

Sir James Douglas Tomb, St. Bride’s Church, Lanarkshire, Scotland

Plaque, Sir James Douglas Tomb

Monument to Robert the Bruce (Stirling Castle in the Background)

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