The lyrics were written in 1793 by the national Scottish poet, Robert Burns.
Burns wrote the lyrics to the Scottish traditional tune “Hey Tuttie Tatie”, which tradition stated was played by Bruce’s army at the Battle of Bannockburn.
Burns sent the poem to his publisher George Thomson, at the end of August 1783 under the title Robert Bruce’s March To Bannockburn. He included a postscript stating he was ” inspired by Bruce’s ‘glorious struggle for Freedom, associated with the glowing ideas of some other struggles of the same nature, not quite so ancient.'”
Due to political hostilities, Burns only allowed the song to be published by the Morning Chronicle as an anonymous piece on May 8, 1794.
George Thomson included the song in his 1799 A Select Collection of Original Scottish Airs for the Voice. He had Burns write a fourth stanza and used a different tune, before reverting to the original tune and words three years later.
The Scottish National Party has adopted Scots Wha Hae as their party song and song at the end of their annual national conference.
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