NS3975 : Plaque beside the ruins of St Serf's church

taken 15 years ago, near to Dumbarton, West Dunbartonshire, Scotland

Plaque beside the ruins of St Serf's church
Plaque beside the ruins of St Serf's church
This plaque stands on the northern side of the ruined church (for the main item on the church itself, see: NS3975 : The ruins of St Serf's Church). I am not aware of the authority for some of the details given on the plaque, but that does not mean that they are wrong.

The inscription is as follows:

This plaque was placed here to commemorate the sepulture here within the ruined bounds of Saint Serf's Parish Church, Little Kirkton, of the embalmed viscera from the body of King Robert 'The Bruce' on or about the third week of June 1329. The dying monarch requested that his heart be taken to Jerusalem by a Knight Templar in fulfilment of a sacred vow he had made earlier in his reign to go on a crusade to the Holy Land in Palestine. On the same day and at the hour appointed for the entombment of the King in Dunfermline Abbey, a simultaneous service of sepulture was conducted within the precincts of this venerable edifice."

Robert the Bruce has strong historical connections with this area. For example, he spent his later years at his residence, the "manerium de Cardross", whose precise location remains uncertain (and the subject of ongoing research), but which was probably no more than a mile or two from this spot; see: NS3976 : Mains of Cardross Canal. It was at this residence that the King died on the 7th of June, 1329.

Though not stated on the plaque, it was Sir James Douglas ("Good Sir James", or "The Black Douglas") who was entrusted with the task of conveying the King's heart, which was placed in a silver and enamelled casket, to the Holy Land. While on this mission, Douglas was slain in the battle of Teba (in Spain), but his body, and the heart of Bruce, are said to have been returned with a guard of honour by the Moorish army, and they were brought back to Scotland.

The heart of King Robert the Bruce was interred under the high altar of Melrose Abbey; his body, as noted above, was buried at Dunfermline Abbey (the precise site was long unknown, but was rediscovered in the early 1800s, and is now marked by a brass plaque).

As for Good Sir James, he is still remembered in Spain; a monument in his honour stands in the Plaza de España in Teba.
Ruins of St Serf's Church

This was the ancient parish church for Cardross Parish. Its ruins are located in what is now Levengrove Park – Link – and some much later memorials for various members of the Dixon family (who were connected with Dumbarton's Glassworks) are now located within its walls. See Link (in a Geograph article) for further comments.

Levengrove Park :: NS3974

The lands of Levengrove were originally part of an area named Ferrylands, so called because, before Dumbarton Bridge was built in 1765, the River Leven was crossed by means of a ferry. John Dixon, a Dumbarton merchant, acquired Levengrove in 1805 from Richard Dennistoun of Kelvingrove (in Glasgow).

The Dixons built Levengrove House (demolished c.1880), whose former grounds make up much of what is now the park. In 1885, Levengrove Park, 32 acres in area, was gifted to the town of Dumbarton by Dr Peter Denny and John McMillan (son of local shipbuilder Archibald McMillan), the expense to them being £20,000.

The park contains the ruins of St Serf's Church – Link – anciently the parish church of Cardross. That church was at one time part of a cluster of buildings, a clachan, that is marked as "Little Kirktoun" on the Pont/Blaeu map of the Lennox. The ruined church was later used by the Dixon family as a burial place: see Link (in a Geograph article).

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Geographical Context: Historic sites and artefacts Ruin: Church Image Buckets ?: Closeup Place: Dumbarton Person: Robert the Bruce Category: Plaque other tags: Levengrove Park Click a tag, to view other nearby images.
1:50,000 Modern Day Landranger(TM) Map © Crown Copyright
1:50,000 Modern Day Landranger(TM) Map © Crown Copyright
TIP: Click the map for more Large scale mapping
Grid Square
NS3975, 671 images   (more nearby 🔍)
Lairich Rig   (more nearby)
Date Taken
Tuesday, 23 September, 2008   (more nearby)
Wednesday, 24 September, 2008
Subject Location
OSGB36: geotagged! NS 393 750 [100m precision]
WGS84: 55:56.4724N 4:34.4260W
Camera Location
OSGB36: geotagged! NS 393 750
View Direction
SOUTH (about 180 degrees)
Clickable map
W Go E
Image classification(about): Supplemental image
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