Primary History

British History: Robert Burns' cravat pin

  • The Cravat Pin

    During a tour of the Highlands the poet Robert Burns found a beautiful agate stone pebble at Braemar.

    On his return to Edinburgh he commissioned a silversmith to turn the pebble into a cravat pin. Cravats were an early form of tie that men wore at that time.

    The pin would have been very expensive and it gives an insight into the remarkable success Burns enjoyed - a transformation from a humble ploughman to one of the world's most famous men!

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  • Burns the man

    Burns was born in Alloway in Ayrshire on the 25th January 1759. He came from a family of farmers and during his childhood he often had to work long hours helping out on the farm.

    His family were quite poor and Robert did not spend much time in school. His father taught him to read, write and do maths.

    As a young man he liked poetry and music and so he started to write poems and songs himself about the places and people he knew.

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  • Burns the poet

    Burns' life changed almost overnight in 1786 when a collection of his poems and songs were published. They became a huge hit and made Robert very famous and very wealthy.

    He moved to Edinburgh where he was welcomed by the wealthiest and most powerful people of the city. Because of his farming background he was nicknamed the Ploughman Poet. He went to many parties and lived his life like a modern day pop star!

    It was during this period of great success and wealth that Burns found the pebble and had it made into an exclusive cravat pin.

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  • Remembering Burns

    In 1788 Robert moved from Edinburgh to Dumfries. Although he was still a young man his health began to suffer and he became sick.

    All the hard work he had done as a child on the farm had damaged his heart. On 21st July 1796 Robert Burns died. He was only 37 years old. After his death his wife Jean gave the cravat pin to a friend as a gift to remember Robert.

    Surprisingly Burns became even more famous after he'd died. All around the world, in countries such as America, Canada and Australia there are statues of Burns.

    People all over the world still remember Burns to this day. On the 25th January - his birthday - people hold Burns Night Suppers. Haggis is eaten and Robert's poems are read and his songs are sung.

    On Hogmanay as people see in the New Year they link arms and sing Auld Lang Syne - one of Robert's songs based on an old Scottish poem.

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Fun Facts
  • Agate gemstones are made from rock formed in volcanoes!

  • Robert Burns was buried on the same day that his son Maxwell was born - the 25th July 1796.

  • Burns planned to move to Jamaica. He published some poems to pay for the journey but they were so successful that he changed his mind and stayed.

  • As well as writing poems Burns travelled Scotland collecting traditional songs. He collected over 600!

  • One of Burns' most famous poems, Tam o' Shanter, is a ghost story set in Ayrshire.

  • The Tam o' Shanter hat is named after Burns poem of the same name.

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