While the highlight of your Antrim Coast tour will undoubtedly be the stunning natural formation that is the Giant’s Causeway, there are plenty more outstanding sights to see on this stretch of coastline.

Sitting two and a half miles off the shore, you might just catch a glimpse of the beautiful Rathlin Island. This humble isle has a rich and varied history – a heritage befitting a much larger piece of land than its mere seven-mile span.

While Rathlin has previously played host to more than its fair share of violence, folklore and island politics, there is one famous visitor who will be forever engraved in Rathlin Island’s history books… Robert the Bruce.

Who was Robert the Bruce?

Robert I (more commonly known as Robert the Bruce) was a 13th-century Scottish king who reigned from 1306 until his death in 1329. He was one of the most famous warriors of the time, and even today, his name is still significant in Scottish history – not least because it was he who led Scotland to march against England in the First War of Scottish Independence.

However, that was all nothing but a dream at the time when the fate of Robert the Bruce and Rathlin Island became one and the same.

Robert the Bruce and Rathlin Island

In 1306, Robert had just suffered a devastating defeat and had been forced to go into exile. His brother was dead, his wife captured, and he was stuck hiding in the sanctuary of a cave on Rathlin Island.

Feeling conflicted about what to do, Robert realised he had two options – to flee or to attempt another battle for Scottish freedom. As he weighed up his choices, he spotted a spider hanging from a thread at the roof of his cave.

Six times Robert counted the spider trying to swing to a nearby rock to affix a line and create a web. Six times, the spider failed in its task. Yet still, it did not give up. Robert the Bruce had attempted to achieve Scottish independence six times. Like the spider, he had failed all six times. Realising this curious similarity, Robert drew inspiration and motivation from the determined actions of the humble spider. The rest, as they say, is history.

The story of Robert the Bruce and Rathlin Island is just one of the many curious tales that you will learn about on an Antrim Coast tour. If you are interested in learning more about the Giant’s Causeway and this wonderful part of the world, simply get in touch with us to book your place on one of our tours today.