Robert the Bruce wanted his heart cut out of his body, after death. In 1921, a heart was found inside a leaden casket at Melrose Abbey underneath the Chapter House floor. It was re-buried and is noted by this marker. Was it the heart of Robert the Bruce? Photo by “Otter at Dutch Wikipedia.” Online via Wikimedia Commons; license CC BY-SA 3.0


During his years as ruler, Robert the Bruce did not forget the time he supported Edward I at the battle of Falkirk. At the end of his life, while he was dying of leprosy, he ordered that his heart be cut out and taken on a Crusade. He wanted to atone for his past mistakes. He still thought he needed forgiveness from God and from his country.

His heart was, in fact, cut out and taken on a Crusade. It was ultimately returned to Scotland where it was buried at Melrose Abbey. Recently, archaeological excavations at the Abbey found a lead container with an engraved plaque inscribed with these words:

The enclosed leaden casket containing a heart was found beneath Chapter House floor, March 1921, by His Majesty's Office of Works.

Click here for a drawing of the leaden casket which was buried again at Melrose Abbey on June 22, 1998.

Edward II died as dishonorably as he lived. Spending more time with his lovers (he called his wife, Isabella, the "she-wolf of France") than he did attending to affairs of state, he was murdered while in captivity. He is buried in Gloucester.

But William Wallace is still honored as the greatest of all Scottish patriots. His commitment to his country never wavered. In 1869, Scotland honored him with a monument in Stirling, near the site of his great victory. It stands as a reminder that one man's motto can be more than mere words. One man's courage can change the course of history. As Robert Burns said, centuries after William's brutal death,

The story of Wallace poured a Scottish prejudice into my veins which will boil along till the floodgates of time shut in eternal rest.

Edward thought he had judicially eliminated his nemesis. England thought the outlaw was gone forever. But Edward created a martyr, and the spirit of the martyr created a nation whose thirst for independence (and ability to cope with disaster) remains strong to this day.

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Author: Carole D. Bos, J.D. 5190stories and lessons created

Original Release: May 01, 2001

Updated Last Revision: Jun 18, 2019

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"WHAT HAPPENED TO THE OTHERS?" AwesomeStories.com. May 01, 2001. Jan 18, 2020.
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