Remembering the Declaration of Arbroath

ARBROATH will return to its medieval roots on Wednesday (April 6) when King Robert the Bruce and his court meet up once again with the clerics of the town’s historic abbey - 691 years to the day since their most historic gathering.

The events, staged by Arbroath Abbey Timethemes, are the high point of the Tartan Day Scotland celebrations being hosted by several local authorities and led by Angus Council.

The day will start at Arbroath railway station at 11 a.m. when King Robert Bruce, Abbot Bernard and other historical characters in colourful medieval dress will join Professor Jan McDonald of the Royal Society of Edinburgh (RSE) and ScotRail representatives to inspect local schoolchildren’s artwork celebrating Arbroath’s rich history and heritage which will go on public display for the first time.

Throughout the day, costumed members will be adding to the visitor experience at the town’s famous abbey. History will be alive in the beautiful red sandstone ruins of the monastery.

In the evening, two spectacular new events are being held in the town to celebrate Tartan Day and the signing of the Declaration of Arbroath.

The entertainment starts with ‘Declaration Celebration – Shining the Spotlight on Scotland Concert’ at 7.30 p.m. in the newly refurbished St Andrew’s Church, directly opposite the historic abbey.

Dr Richard Irvine, chairman of Arbroath Abbey Timethemes, said: “Our special concert is packed with amazing artists drawn from the local area. It will be a superb evening’s entertainment and something not to be missed.

“We have singers Layla Brown, Alan Mowatt and Dave Ramsay; comedy sketches from Mark Masson and great music from Ewan and Kerr Barrack. Layla Brown will be accompanied by popular Arbroath pianist Winnie Sangster.”

Dr Irvine continued: “Throughout the show, members of Arbroath Abbey Timethemes will be re-enacting various scenes telling the story of the weeks leading up to April 6, 1320, when the barons and earls of Scotland gathered at the Abbey in the presence of Robert Bruce to sign and seal a collective letter to the Pope affirming their right to be a free and peaceable nation.

“The letter in the most polished and eloquent Latin is believed to be the work of Bernard, Abbot of Arbroath and Chancellor of Scotland.

“The Declaration is a classic example of the pen being mightier than the sword, a demonstration of diplomacy, an expression of a people’s desire for peace and democracy. Something we all should aspire to and an event worth remembering. We should not forget the creative greatness of the Declaration itself and our concert aims to illustrate this.”

Members of the public are invited to join a torchlit procession with the costumed characters from the forecourt of the Abbey, down the High Street to Danger Point and the North Sea. The procession will start at 9 p.m. Torches are priced £5 but only £1 with a valid concert ticket.

Dr Irvine concluded: “We wanted to stage an event where everybody, young and old, could join in and celebrate the part that Arbroath played in shaping not only Scottish but world history. The procession echoes the great gathering of April, 1320, and the torches symbolise both the light of democracy and peace expressed in the Declaration and the guiding light of the Bell Rock lighthouse.

Tickets for the concert are available from Turnkey Gallery, High Street, Wilbourn Insurance Services, Millgate, Arbroath, and at the door on the night.