According to tradition, this is a piece of history that was the pedestal on which Robert the Bruce set his standard before the Battle of Bannockburn.
A flat stone with a circular pit, four inches in diameter and four inches wide, the Borestone was an opening through which on June 23, 1314, the King of Scots put his standard.
Now, after an online blog challenged the authenticity of the remains, a call has come out for anyone interested in history who has knowledge about the stone to shed some light on its past.
At Bannockburn, fragments of what is believed to be the Borestone are in situ.
But questions about these pieces have been raised by Tom Welsh, a retired geography lecturer who runs the online site History Regained – which he says aims to “identify new sources to rediscover the past”
As a hobby, Mr. Welsh, who is from Glasgow and now lives in Chester, studies history.
He said the research is uncovering different stone descriptions, and he wants to spark discussion on the subject.
Mr. Welsh, 70, said, “It has always puzzled me that the Borestone was described by 19th-century observers as being igneous rock, but modern descriptions point to sedimentary rock as part of an ancient millstone.”
“Although symbolic, it is one of many facets of the Bannockburn story where the new concept does not fit the evidence.”
The Borestone became a tourist attraction for centuries after the war, revered by tourists who chipped off bits to take home as souvenirs.
By the mid-19th century, so little of the original stone remained that the remaining parts were covered by an iron grate and a guardian was appointed to watch over them.
Statues and monuments were erected on the battlefield in the 19th and into the 20th century – a flagpole was erected in 1870 and a cairn in 1957. Charles D’orville Pilkington Jackson’s statue of Bruce was erected in 1964, on the 650th anniversary of the battle, and the rotunda was constructed the same year. By that time, only two pieces of Borestone remained, and they were removed and placed
“Historic Tales of the Wars of Scotland, Volume Two”Historic Tales of the Wars of Scotland, Volume Two.
Mr. Parker wrote: “The stone bears the marks of many reckless pilgrimages, and in many places has been chipped by thousands of persons desirous of possessing a piece of the relic.”
Meanwhile, in an 1880 article published in various Scottish newspapers, William Ireland wrote that he had visited the stone and several bits were still stolen.
Ireland wrote of the souvenir hunters in the hope that it would warn the Scots to do something about it and protect the stone from trophy hunters. He wrote that it was “greenstone or similar igneous rock that could stand a high polish.”
In response to Ireland’s terms, Mr. Welsh said letters were then sent, adding, “One correspondent did not believe the stones had been taken away as much as suggested.” All the letters requested that something be done about it, and they blamed the state of neglect on the landowner and the locals. Then the enclosure was set on a foundation of concrete. In 1960, the fragments were put in a new position on a pedestal, but then vanished.
“It is now believed that the Borestone is simply an old millstone that was placed there in the early 1800s to add emphasis to tradition,” the avid historian, who said he put up his online posting “to get a discussion going,” said. The stone fragments look slabby and cream-colored.
“So who is right? In the mid-19th century, it was an igneous rock that looked either blue or greenish, whereas today it’s just two pieces of an old millstone.”
The head of archaeology at the National Trust for Scotland, Derek Alexander, said he supports “debates like this” because they encourage us to “stay curious” and continue to dig into the past.
Mr. Alexander said, “The Trust still has concerns about the borestone fragments currently on site at B