The 40 Bowmen of St Sebastian
Saint Sebastian is regarded as the Patron Saint of soldiers generally, of infantrymen, of athletes, of archers in particular and of municipal police officers. The 40 Bowmen and Women of St Sebastian are an Ancient Society thought to have had a hereditary group of Bodyguards dating beyond the time of the ‘Druids’ having of course different names over the centuries.
The historical group Strathleven Artizans started up in 2005/06 to promote King Robert the Bruce living in Renton and as we started to venture outside Renton with our own small group this was a big step for us, meeting and supporting other historical groups with some of our own members joining other societies like the Society of William Wallace.
It became known quite quickly that we were men and women O’Bruce. We had also met lots of other groups and re-enactment societies who didn’t really know who we were and it was decided that we would have to try to find a connection with Bruce.
What we found in our research was that Robert the Bruce took on the Earl of Lennox’s Bodyguard known as:
The Forty Bowmen of St Sebastian
St Sebastian has been martyred by having arrows fired into his body and survived. King Roberts own men had been through many a battle and survived, especially the great victory at Bannockburn 1314, so the King thought it would be fitting to name his bodyguards after this great example. His Bodyguard’s were so successful that King Robert died in peace in his bed at Renton 1329 – the bodyguard continues with David the 2nd onwards.
The Garrison chapel on the king’s estate which was actually attached to the manor house itself was manned by the 40 bowmen of St Sebastian who were archers. The Garrison chapel was named after St Sebastian, being the patron Saint of Archers. And in time that portion of the demeemesney became known as St Sebastian.
It is known throughout history that Joan of Arc had her own Scottish Bodyguards and whilst marching in to Orleans, 1429, played her ‘Ode De La Robert the Bruce’ on the bag pipes. It is thought that she was only captured after her personal bodyguard was sent ahead of her to a different location; therefore the Maid was left vulnerable.
In the year of our lord, 2007, The Earl of Elgin and Kincardine KT (Lord Elgin) presented the 40 Bowmen with wooden hearts carved from the Bruce Oak Tree. There are at this moment in time, 1 Sept 2008, 29 bowmen. The people chosen are the Sons and Daughters of Scotland and have a connection with King Robert or have been chosen by the Bowmen as having wanted to protect our Mother Scotland. We will continue to look and ask patriots and friends of Scotland to join and protect the Bruce family and Scotland.