Page:Robert the Bruce and the struggle for Scottish independence - 1909.djvu/358

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Robert the Bruce.

[1322 A.D.-

he was powerless to bind his successors; and King Robert decided on building a castle which, in after generations, might tend to keep the Lords of the Isles to their good behaviour. He chose a site on the east shore of the isthmus of Cantyre, where tradition reported that Magnus Barefoot of Norway was drawn from sea to sea in a galley, when the western isles were ceded to him in 1098. The ceremony of sailing round each island had been held essential to complete infeftment, and, in sailing thus across the isthmus of Tarbet,[1] the whole of Cantyre was formally included in the Norse dominions. It is said that when King Robert visited the western isles in 1315, he conciliated the superstitious Highlanders in like manner by allowing himself to be drawn across the Tarbet in a boat.

The King took a keen interest in the progress of the works at his new castle. Robert the mason, besides his contract price of £282 15s. and a chalder of oatmeal and barley, received £5 6s. 8d. extra, out of the royal bounty, because, in the King's absence, he had built the walls thicker than was set forth in the specifications. The wages of the other workmen may be seen in the accounts of John de Lany, constable of the castle. Besides the said Robert, there were also John and Hugh, masons, Neil and Patrick, smiths, John the carpenter, Donald the blocker, and Neil the plumber. When Sir James Douglas and

  1. There are many places in Scotland called Tarbet or Tarbert, invariably narrow necks of land between two seas. The name is derived from the Gaelic tar (root of tarriungim, I draw) and bàd, a boat.