An ancient Caledonian law gave the Clan MacDuff the privilege of placing the crown on the head of a new king. At the time, the MacDuffs were allied with the Comyns, enemies of the Bruces. Yet Isabelle MacDuff, the Countess of Buchan, defied her Comyn husband and rushed to Scone to perform the sacred deed for Robert in a second ceremony on Moot Hill.Share
English chroniclers at the time suspected that Isabelle, a distant kinswoman of the Bruces, must have been one of Robert’s secret mistresses. Outraged by her betrayal of the loyalty oath that the MacDuffs and Comyns had given him, Edward Longshanks ordered Isabelle tracked down and captured. Cornered with the other Bruce women in the sanctuary kirk at Tain, she was cruelly punished by being exposed for years in an iron cage hung from the ramparts of Berwick Castle.
Why did Isabelle risk her life to crown Robert Bruce? What happened to her during that brutish captivity? And why did so many brave women follow her lead to take up the Bruce’s cause? I unveil my theories about these mysteries and more in my latest release: The Spider and the Stone: A Novel of Scotland’s Black Douglas. (Read more.)