Try, try again works for Robert the Bruce – 130 years late

A statue of the proud Scottish King is finally put up after over a century's delay
  • @tompeck

"If at first you don't succeed try, try and try again." Robert the Bruce, king of Scotland, is meant to have told his troops this shortly before walloping the English at Bannockburn in 1314.

The idiom, said to have been inspired by a humble spider stoically weaving his web as Bruce hid from his English pursuers in a cave, is particularly appropriate too for the modern residents of Annan, ancestral home of the Bruce lineage, who have erected a statue of the king – after a 130-year delay.

When the town hall was constructed on Annan's high street in the 19th century, a plinth was placed above the entrance for a planned statue of Bruce, Lord of Annandale. But financial problems meant it was never commissioned.

Two years ago a local committee began fundraising and a £2m bronze likeness has been put in place. A dedication service will be staged on Friday.

Some £40,000 was raised to help complete the 250kg statue. Committee secretary Roderick McCallum said he was pleased the town had recognised the role of the king. "The Bruces became Lords of Annandale having been gifted this land by a previous king – basically, I think, to help to pacify the natives," he said.

Their first castle was also built in Annan, near to where the town hall stands. Mr McCallum added that erecting the statue would "correct the deficit" from more than a century ago.

The statue was produced by artist Andrew Brown, originally from Port William, who said the work presented a number of challenges. "One of the difficulties was judging the finished height of the bronze because he was made on the ground, yet he's being displayed 30ft up," he said. "It was an unknown quantity what he would look like in situ."

Another issue was deciding how the statue should look. Mr Brown said: "They have his skull and there are some nasty marks on it which tell of the battles he fought. Apart from that we don't have any images of Robert the Bruce."

Mr McCallum said the town was pleased with the results: "It captures just what we were looking for in terms of Robert the Bruce as a nation-builder."