“Scots Wha Hae (Bruce Before Bannockburn)”

Author: Robert Burns
Earliest date: 1800 (Currie)
Keywords: battle Scotland war freedom political
Found in: Britain(Scotland)


"Scots wha hae wi' Wallace bled, Scots, wham Bruce has aften led, Welcome to your gory bed Or to victory!" As the English army of Edward approaches, the Scots are encouraged to "do or dee" to retain their freedom


Titled, in Currie's publication, "Bruce to his Troops on the eve of the Battle of Bannock-burn."

By the time of Bannockburn, the Scots had been struggling against the English for twenty years, with relatively slight success overall. It was not the accession of Robert Bruce that turned the tide, but rather the death of the strong English king Edward I. His successor, Edward II, was much weaker. When Edward II finally was induced to fight the Scots, he did little more than throw his troops at Bruce's army, leading to a catastrophic and unnecessary defeat.

Although Bannockburn was more Edward's loss than Bruce's victory, it became the defining event in the Scottish story, and hence the inspiration for this poem of Burns's (though there is no reason to think Bruce ever said anything like this). - RBW

Historical references

Same tune

Cross references



  1. Silber-FSWB, p. 299, "Scots Wha Ha'e Wi' Wallace Bled" (1 text)
  3. BI, FSWB299