Online Encyclopedia


Online Encyclopedia
Originally appearing in Volume V26, Page 865 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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THOMAS OF ERCELDOUNE, called also THE RHYMER, and sometimes given the surname of LEARMONT (ft. ? 1220-? 1297), poet and prophet in the legendary literature of Scotland. The historical person of that name figures in two charters of the 13th century, and from these it appears that he owned lands in Erceldoune (now Earlstoun), in Berwickshire, which were made over by his son and heir on the 2nd of November 1294 to the foundation of the Holy Trinity at Soltra (or Soutra) on the borders of the same county. This would seem to imply that Thomas the Rhymer was already dead, but J. A. H. Murray, who edited The Romance and Prophecies (E.E.T.S., 1875), thinks that he was living three years later in a Cluniac priory in Ayrshire. He figures in the works of Barbour and Harry the Minstrel as the sympathizing contemporary of their heroes, and Walter Bower, who continued the Scotichronicon of Fordun, tells how he prophesied the death of Alexander III. in 1285. Barbour makes the bishop of St Andrews in 1306 express a hope that a prophecy of Thomas referring to Bruce will come true; and Wyntoun says that he foretold the battle of Kilblane. In the folk-lore of Scotland his name is associated with numerous fragments of verse of a gnomic and prophetic character. The ' For the duties of this important office, see J. B. Bury, Later Roman Empire (1f89), i. 45.

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