Barbour’s Bruce
Title Details

762 Pages

21.6 x 13.8 cm

Imprint: Scottish Text Society

Barbour’s Bruce

A! Fredome is a noble thing!

by John Barbour

Edited by Matthew P. McDiarmid and James A. C. Stevenson

  • Description
  • Contents
  • Author
Barbour's Bruce (c. 1375) is the oldest substantial piece of literature in Older Scots. It narrates in four-stress couplets the feats of Robert Bruce and his supporters, most notably James Douglas and Thomas Randolph. Their heroic activities, including battles against odds and clever out-manoeuvrings as well as open warfare, provide opportunities for discussion of good leadership, the celebration of freedom, and a construction of Scottishness alongside a narrative with enough verifiable historical detail to make it compelling and convincing. Barbour's narrative implicitly locates Bruce and Douglas against European traditions of the Nine Worthies, particularly Alexander, and shows a sophisticated sense of structure in the central placing of Bannockburn and Bruce's speech on freedom.

This edition by McDiarmid and Stevenson, out of print for several years, is now reissued by the Scottish Text Society. In addition to the text, it provides a full introduction, notes and a glossary.
Volume I
General Introduction
Synopsis of the Narrative
Textual Notes
Appendix I: Lines from Wyntoun's Cronykil
Appendix II: The 'Edinburgh' Rubrics
Appendix III: Conversion Factors
Persons and Places in the text

Volume II
Textual and Editorial Introduction
Book I
Book II
Book III
Book IV
Book V
Book VI
Book VII
Book IX
Book X

Volume III
Book XI
Book XII
Book XIV
Book XV
Book XVI
Book XIX
Book XX

John Barbour (c. 1330-1395) concluded his career as archdeacon of Aberdeen. He was associated with the royal Stewart affinity, and his works seek to establish both Bruce and Stewart rights to the throne. The Bruce is the earliest surviving text in Scots: it narrates the feats of Robert Bruce and James Douglas during the First War of Independence.

Matthew McDiarmid (25 June 1914-12 February 1996) was a Scottish literary scholar, essayist, campaigning academic and poet.
McDiarmid was one of the leading members of a pioneering generation of Scottish academics who laboured and campaigned for a proper place for Scotland's literature in Scottish universities. At the opening of his career, no Scottish university had a dedicated professor of Scottish literature; by the time of his death, there were six.

J.A.C. Stevenson was a leading scholar and philologist of his generation, and his edition of the Bruce is still standard.



March 2023


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Title Details

762 Pages

2.16 x 1.38 cm

Imprint: Scottish Text Society