Page:Robert the Bruce and the struggle for Scottish independence - 1909.djvu/404

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[1329 A.D.
Robert the Bruce.

and that in all the coming virulence of faction and bitterness of ecclesiastical strife, this spot of ground would never have been violated—this memorial of the Great King would have been proudly preserved.

Even had there been found a Scotsman so alien from the spirit of his race as to hold the memory of Robert the Bruce as a common thing, unworthy of honour, surely there were noble ashes enough besides in that abbey ground to make it forever sacred. For, so soon as the different peoples inhabiting Scotland had united to form one nation under one monarch, Dunfermline succeeded Iona as the sepulchre of the Scottish kings. Here were laid Malcolm Canmore, his Queen Margaret, and their sons Edward, Edmund, and Ethelbert; Alexander I. and Queen Sibylla; David I. and his two consorts; Alexander III., his Queen Margaret, and their sons David and Alexander. Hither also, in the days that followed the reign of Robert the Bruce, had been carried almost all that Scotland had to cherish of wise and great and good among her rulers: surely her sons would hold the place sacred for all time.

Not so.

On March 28, 1560, the choir, transepts, and belfry, as well as the monastery of Dunfermline, were razed by the Reformers, and the nave was refitted four years later to serve as a parish church. Ruin—ruthless, senseless ruin—fell upon the monument of Scotland's greatest ruler, just as at that time it fell upon countless other relics of irreparable value. So that it came to pass when, in 1821 foundations were being cleared for a new church,