'Greetings from Robert, by the Grace of God King of Scots, to his sheriffs and bailiffs of Forres.'
Brodie Castle in Moray is home to one of the oldest documents in our collection: a letter from King Robert the Bruce. Written in 1312 to Malcolm, Thane of Brodie, regarding the maintenance of his property, it predates the oldest parts of the castle as it stands today by about 200 years.
Relatively few documents from this time survive intact and are still legible, so we are extremely fortunate and honoured to care for a piece of our Scottish past, especially when written by such an impressive player on the stage of Scotland's history. Its survival is even more impressive as, in 1645, Brodie was ransacked by Lord Lewis Gordon and many of the family papers were burnt.
We need your help to protect this letter and help us share it with visitors, so they can learn and engage with our Scottish past.
Robert the Bruce's letter to the Thane of Brodie is demanding that he takes proper care of his mill pond as his neglect of it has annoyed the local monks of Pluscarden Abbey and if he doesn't then there will be serious consequences. The letter gives us real insight into medieval kingship and the way of life for land owners. Furthermore, it shows us the authority that Robert the Bruce was trying to exert across the country as he reaffirms his position as King.
It also provides the story of life in the 1300s and how an unkempt mill pond would have an effect on the local community. A full pond would keep the wheels turning at the local mill, ensuring that bread was being produced for the monks and being shared with the poor.
The letter is from a tumultuous period of Scottish history - the Battle of Bannockburn occurring only two years later and the rarity and importance of the letter makes it a gem from our extensive archives. The letter is a true moment in history and we want to share its importance with everyone who visits Brodie Castle, providing a palpable way of experiencing our heritage and the stories the document has to share.
WHY DO WE NEED YOUR HELP?
The letter went on display when Brodie Castle opened to the public in 1981 and since then thousands of visitors have enjoyed seeing this piece of Scottish history. Despite being well looked after and care, the letter has faded and the case that provided it a home was no longer protecting it from environmental factors like light and humidity.
The letter has survived for almost 700 years, and earlier this year we made the difficult decision to temporarily remove it from display at Brodie Castle, giving us time to conserve it and find a protective display case that will help it survive for many more years. But we need your help to do this.
Over the summer, thanks to generous donations we have been able to complete conservation work on the letter, including removing all damaging traces of adhesive, delicate surface cleaning and the addition of a new mount to prevent any further deterioration. However, we are now desperate to raise the money required to put the letter back on show at the castle.
Please donate today to help us protect Robert the Bruce's letter and help us share the stories of our past like never before.
HELP US KEEP HISTORY ALIVE AT BRODIE CASTLE
Brodie Castle came into the hands of the Trust in 1979 to ensure people could visit, learn from and engage with the history of the castle. The letter was very special to Ninian, the 25th Brodie of Brodie, the last laird to live in the castle, and has been kept safe by his family over many years for us to display today.
Brodie Castle in Morayshire
However, being on public display means the letter has been at risk from light exposure and changing humidity levels can damage the vellum it is written on. We must ensure that we showcase the letter in a controlled environment according to museum standards.
We have found a way to display the letter in a protected environment and a way that brings the stories and context of the document alive. There's so much to be learnt from the letter and we want everyone who visits Brodie Castle to experience this for themselves.
HELP US DISPLAY THE LETTER TODAY
We are looking to purchase a ColliderCase which uses state-of-the-art technology to display content about the object displayed, bringing history to life. We will be able to programme text, illustrations, photographs, film and audio that the public can watch and interact with, making the letter much more accessible. The ColliderCase can also translate the letter into multiple languages, highlighting key parts of the text and explaining the historical context of the letter.
It also provides the highest standard of protection. The case remains sealed, ensuring optimum temperature and relative humidity is maintained, protecting the delicate vellum. While it appears that the digital content is within the case, it's actually projected on the outside - dispersing the small amount of heat generated away from the letter.
Illumination and lighting is controlled automatically, and sensors make sure that lighting is only switched on when a visitor approaches the case so the letter is exposed to minimal UV light.
We currently use this technology to showcase the Bonnie Prince Charlie letter at Culloden and the original castle door at Craigievar Castle.
We need to raise £24,000 to share Robert the Bruce's letter with the public and to conserve and care for the document to museum standards, ensuring a vital piece of Scotland's story is protected for everyone to learn from and enjoy.
Play your part today and help us protect our history for future generations.
ROBERT THE BRUCE
Robert the Bruce is one of Scotland's most enduring heroes. As a leader of an uprising that sought to overturn the wishes of Edward I of England, his struggles for the crown of Scotland are well documented. His bravery and determination led him through this cause despite crushing defeats; the capture of his wife and several supporters; and the execution of three of his brothers. The Scottish victory over a large army at Bannockburn was decisive in reinforcing Bruce's position and forcing the English to rescind their claim to Scotland's sovereignty.
Robert the Bruce has become a key figure in Scotland's history and cultural identity and the Trust helps protect and promote his legacy. We believe that Robert the Bruce's role in Scotland's past should be protected for future generations to learn from and should be accessible to all. That's why we have developed exciting plans to bring more of his history to light.
WHO ARE WE?
At National Trust for Scotland, we work on hundreds of conservation projects; protect thousands of acres of wild habitat and hundreds of thousands of items in our collections across the whole of Scotland. To do this, we rely heavily on donations from the general public. Since 1931, our love for Scotland has protected our natural, built and cultural heritage. From coastlines to castle, wildlife to wilderness and art to architecture, we encourage people to come together and connect over the things that make Scotland unique and protect them for future generations.
PLEASE DONATE TODAY!
If we're able to reach our target, any additional money or funds raised will go towards the running costs of Brodie Castle.