April 6, 2020 will be the 700th anniversary of the Signing of the Declaration of Arbroath.
Plans are currently underway to ensure the celebrations of this momentous event in Scotland’s history are worthy of the occasion, with a public meeting being held tomorrow (Wednesday, November 16) at Hospitalfield to discuss ideas and encourage local people, groups, organisations and businesses to get involved.
Norman Atkinson, chair of Arbroath 2020, explained that Arbroath 2020 is currently a small group of local people and organisations who are working closely with representatives of Angus Council, Historic Environment Scotland, Visit Scotland and Hospitalfield.
“We are very aware that there are many others out there with potential ideas about how the 700th anniversary should be celebrated,” said Norman.
“This meeting is an opportunity for everyone to air their ideas about how the 700th anniversary of the Signing of the Declaration of Arbroath should be celebrated and find out how they can become involved in planning and development.”
Lucy Byatt, Director of Hospitalfield Arts, explained that, at the time of the signing of the Declaration, Arbroath was an intellectual and creative centre in Scotland. “The innovation brought by the monks of the Abbey and the movement of people through the town and the region created a groundswell of social and political thought that had impact for years to come,” said Lucy.
“One of the legacies of this important period was the Declaration of Arbroath - it is this entire context for the Declaration that we wish to celebrate.”
One of the 700th anniversary ideas which is on the verge of becoming a reality is a special tapestry commemorating Arbroath Abbey and its history. “A group of members from Angus Embroidery and Textile Artists have been inspired by the Great Tapestry of Scotland to create a beautiful tapestry telling the story of the Arbroath Abbey,” said embroiderer and Arbroath 2020 member Linda Walker.
“We are still in the early stages of this tapestry and at the meeting on November 16, we would hope to encourage younger people to become involved.”
Norman explained that the meeting will also include a chance to study the plans that have been drawn up for the proposed development of a civic square in front of the Abbey, to discuss the proposal that the Declaration Statue be moved to a position near the Abbey and to consider ways to ensure the economic benefits of the anniversary are fully realised.
“The 700th anniversary of the Signing of the Declaration of Arbroath has massive potential for our town,” said Norman.
“In 2011, the fabulous programme of celebrations to mark the 200th anniversary of the Bell Rock Lighthouse attracted thousands of people from all over the world, enhancing Arbroath’s reputation, shining the light on the town’s fascinating history and boosting the local economy and civic pride.
“The 700th anniversary of the Signing of the Declaration of Arbroath is an opportunity to repeat this success and we’d like as many people as possible to come along to the meeting at Hospitalfield on the evening of November 16.”