Robert Bruce's March to Bannockburn

Scots, wha hae wi' Wallace bled, Scots, wham Bruce has aften led, Welcome to your gory bed, Or to Victorie! Now's the day, and now's the hour; See the front o' battle lour; See approach proud Edward's power Chains and Slaverie! Wha will be a traitor knave? Wha can fill a coward's grave? Wha sae base as be a Slave? Let him turn and flie: Wha, for Scotland's King and Law, Freedom's sword will strongly draw, Free-man stand, or Free-man fa', Let him follow me. By Oppression's woes and pains! By your Sons in servile chains! We will drain our dearest veins, But they shall be free! Lay the proud Usurpers low! Tyrants fall in every foe! Liberty's in every blow! Let us Do- or Die!!!


Liam Brennan

About this work

This is a song by Robert Burns. It was written in 1793 and is read here by Liam Brennan.

More about this song

'Robert Bruce's March to Bannockburn', also commonly known as 'Scots Wha Hae', first appeared in the Morning Chronicle on the 8th May 1794. The song celebrates the Scot's defeat of King Edward II at the Battle of Bannockburn in 1314: one of the most significant battles of the Scottish Wars of Independence.

In a letter to George Thomson in August 1793, Burns implies that he was inspired to write this song about the Scot's 'glorious struggle for Freedom' by the ongoing French Revolution. Certainly, 'Scots Wha Hae' is one of Burns's most emphatic depictions of resistance in the face of oppression and tyranny, and a powerfully patriotic song.

Pauline Mackay

Themes for this song

nationalism death equality revolution

Locations for this song


Selected for 24 June

The forces of Robert the Bruce defeated the army of Edward II at Bannockburn on June 24th, 1314, thus restoring Scottish sovereignty. It was an anniversary important to Robert Burns and to many Scots. Like 'La Marseillaise', it addresses contemporary issues by evoking past events. In this stirring battle-cry of a poem, the poet, never more conscious of his bardic role, was clearly appealing to 1790's radical and patriotic sentiment by reminding his countrymen and women of a previous act of collective resistance. Burns had set his propagandist verses to an old drinking song. His call to arms survived almost all of his interfering editor's attempts to sweeten its tune and tone down its politics, emerging as something of an informal 'national anthem', which it remains to this day.

Donny O'Rourke

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