Declaration of Arbroath set for display on 700th anniversary

The 1320 document will go on show to the public for the first time in 15 years.

Declaration of Arbroath set for display on 700th anniversary National Records of Scotland

One of Scotland’s most historic documents is to go on display to the public as part of celebrations to mark its 700th anniversary.

The Declaration of Arbroath, a famous letter from Scottish barons calling for the Pope to recognise Scotland as an independent nation, was penned in 1320.

Seven centuries on, National Records of Scotland (NRS) and National Museums Scotland have announced a major programme of events to mark the anniversary.

These include putting the document, which is so fragile it can only be displayed occasionally to help preserve it, on public show for the first time in 15 years.

People will be able to see the surviving declaration, a medieval copy of the original letter that was dispatched to Pope John XXII in Avignon, at the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh from March 27 to April 26.

Anniversary events will consider the context of the letter’s creation and its significance today, with talks featuring experts such as writer and historian Fiona Watson; Alan Borthwick, the head of medieval and early morning records at NRS; curator Dr Alice Blackwell, of National Museums Scotland, and Professor Dauvit Broun from the University of Glasgow.

Parliamentary business minister Graeme Dey said the events formed part of an “exciting anniversary year in which we will celebrate this amazing document with the people of Scotland and with visitors from around the world”.

He added: “The Declaration of Arbroath is a unique historical record and is of huge importance to Scotland as a whole but particularly to the town of Arbroath itself.

“I’ve been pleased to discover how many people of Scots descent worldwide have a great understanding of the document’s significance.”

NRS chief executive Paul Lowe said: “National Records of Scotland have the great honour of being the custodians of the Declaration of Arbroath and preserving it for future generations.

“We are delighted to make this iconic document available once more for public view, working closely with our colleagues in the National Museum of Scotland.

“We look forward to hosting visitors to our range of exciting events throughout the year and to participating in the wider celebrations of this key treasure from our extensive collections.”

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