The Elite Ayrshire Business Circle

The Elite Ayrshire Business Circle

Friday, 11 April 2014

Historical chair is set to be the driving seat for new Bruce Trail

A carved oak chair, once thought to have belonged to King Robert the Bruce (1274-1329), is being exhibited at the McKechnie Institute in Girvan to help promote local interest in Scotland’s first King and boost a series of themed heritage trails.

The ‘Bruce chair’ was unveiled at the McKechnie by Provost Helen Moonie, and was originally found near Dunfermline Abbey in 1654.

[Pictured: South Ayrshire Provost Helen Moonie (right) is pictured with the ‘Bruce Chair’, Girvan and South Carrick Councillors, and representatives from the Association of Community Councils and the local community.]

It bears two brass plaques stating ‘Carved Oak Arm Chair’ and ‘Believed to have been the property of King Robert the Bruce’. Prominently within the carvings are the initials ‘RB’ although a carving of a coat of arms would have been more likely for a knight or a king at that time.

The design and build of the chair strongly hint that it’s Elizabethan in origin, some 300 years after Bruce’s time, although it may have been re-worked to preserve it after it was found at the Abbey.

However, the linkage to Robert the Bruce is intriguing because he was interred at Dunfermline Abbey’s high altar, so the discovery of a chair with his initials carved on it at this particular site is significant.

And the story of Robert the Bruce, his links and cultural impact in Carrick and South Ayrshire are to be further brought to life through three picturesque trails in the local area as part of a project led by the Association of South Ayrshire Community Councils (ASACC).

These will offer an extensive and joined-up network of paths that all link to the life and times of the King of the Scots covering three areas:

• Central – Maybole, Turnberry, Kirkoswald, Crossraguel Abbey, Maidens 

• North – Ayr, Prestwick, Dundonald, Loans, Barnweil Tower, Tarbolton 

• South – Girvan, Barr and Hadyard Hill, Ballantrae and Loch Ryan 

Supporting the trail, a number of road signs, plaques, information boards, cairns, marker stones and colour booklets are also planned, helping to set the scene and tell the tale of Bruce’s life and legacy in the area.

Provost Moonie said: “South Ayrshire and Carrick enjoy clear links to Robert the Bruce, and I am passionate about the need to preserve and develop such an important heritage.

“The Bruce Chair is an intriguing exhibit, and I hope it will help boost the profile of Robert the Bruce locally, inspiring people to come and learn more about our King and maybe follow in his footsteps.”

ASACC chairman Peter Mason said: “The Bruce Trail offers an ideal opportunity for our rich Bruce heritage to be formally recognised and marketed to those interested in history, both local and national.

"The paths make their way through many of the scenic areas, villages and towns that Bruce would have known, giving us the opportunity to develop additional hospitality, food and entertainment packages.

“We know many have strong and proud links to Bruce and his importance to the tourism potential of South Carrick cannot be underestimated. His time here is equally as important as Bannockburn and we’re keen to exploit that potential to maximum benefit.”

For further information on the Bruce Trail, contact Julia Whitaker at Ailsa Horizons on 01465 710628  or e-mail: 

South Ayrshire Council is a Founder Member of the Elite Ayrshire Business Circle.

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