Hunterian Museum recreates lost tomb of Robert the Bruce

By James Murray | 18 June 2014

Bringing together lost artifacts and expert knowledge from organisations across Scotland, Robert the Bruce's tomb has been recreated in Glasgow


digital recreation of Bruce's tomb
The new 3D digital visualisation of the Bruce's tomb lasts three and a half minutes© Digital Design Studio
King of Scotland from 1306 until his death in 1329, Robert the Bruce was a huge personality who fought his own countrymen as often as the English. But he has come to define what we think of as Scotland to this day.

The Bruce’s magnificent tomb in the choir of Dunfermline Abbey, however, did not escape the violence of the 1560 Scottish Reformation, which went far beyond the clinical dissolution of the monasteries in Tudor England in its ideological fervour.

Sacked by the mob in March that year, Dunfermline Abbey has been a ruin ever since, with all forms of opulence or decoration deliberately destroyed.  

Although Robert himself was still revered, his tomb of fine gilded French marble was a prime example of the decadence which the revolutionary crowd had gathered to chastise, and must have been one of the first monuments to be smashed and disbursed.

Lost for centuries, some believe the tomb was re-discovered in 1818, consisting of a few fragments of a gilded monument dug from a grave.

Divided between the Hunterian and National Museums Scotland, the fragments have never been displayed in public together before. As a further bonus ,they are joined by a new piece recently rediscovered in the Abbotsford Collection.

The famous novelist and antiquarian Sir Walter Scott built his home at Abbotsford, and no doubt bought or was given one of the fragments around the time of their discovery.

Planned as part of the 700th anniversary celebrations for the Battle of Bannockburn, the Hunterian’s new exhibition has brought objects and expertise together from a range of national organisations, including Historic Scotland, the Abbotsford Trust, and Glasgow School of Art’s Digital Design Studio.

As well as this temporary exhibition, the Hunterian is home to other remarkable Bruce relics including a cast of his skull, a toe bone, his coffin handle and nails, and fragments of the cloth of gold his body was wrapped in.

The model is free to view from June 24 until January 4 2015.

What do you think? Leave a comment below.

The Hunterian Museum
The Hunterian Museum, part of the University of Glasgow© 2012 The Hunterian, University of Glasgow
Digital recreation of Bruce's tomb
Digital recreation of the Bruce's tomb© Digital Design Studio
detail from digital recreation of Bruce's tomb
detail© Digital Design Studio
detail from digital recreation of Bruce's tomb
detail© Digital Design Studio
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