Scottish Independence and the role of Arbroath Abbey

The Arbroath Declaration and Arbroath Abbey

2014 is a big year for Scotland. In September all of us living here will be voting on whether or not to leave the rest of the United Kingdom and become a fully independent country. Big decisions, history potentially in the making. Today I’m in Arbroath to see the original Declaration of Arbroath that came into being in the 14th Century and that outlined the case for Scotland’s independence as Robert the Bruce’s wars drew to a close.

arbroath declaration from arbroath abbey

After the glorious victory at Bannockburn, the Bruce’s Scotland sought the thumbs up from the Pope to become an independent country from England. The Arbroath Declaration was sent to Rome presenting the case in 1320. The Pope’s initial support was to waver further down the line but the drafting of the declaration goes down in history as a pivotal moment. This the most famous document in Scottish history. The history doesn’t end there though. When the Stone of Destiny was pinched from Westminster Abbey in 1951 by some students (only in Scotland) it was brought here, the epicentre of all things Scottish Independence. A new replica of the legendary Stone is the highlight of Historic Scotland’s adjoining display gallery at the abbey today.

arbroath declaration within arbroath abbey

What remains of Arbroath Abbey makes for an impressive attraction. The beautiful red sandstone so ubiquitous in these parts is magnificent. Dating back to the 12th Century few ruins hold so much history and significance.
So what’s going to happen in September? I think it’s safe to say that most of us haven’t got a clue. With three months to go before the votes are in, it looks too close to call. The pro-Union side have let a big lead slip away and my guess would be that it will go down to less than 5% one way or another. Scotland may very well be about to become a fully independent country. If so expect Arbroath to get a bit of a boost in tourist numbers and TV coverage.

arbroath declaration found within arbroath abbey

To quote from the declaration…as long as a hundred of us remain alive, never will we on any conditions be subjected to the lordship of the English. It is in truth not for glory, nor riches, nor honours that we are fighting, but for freedom alone, which no honest man gives up but with life itself.

Aside from the wonderful abbey and the declaration document, it’s all about the smokies in Arbroath. Smoked fish at its finest. Powerful stuff and a nice accompaniment to mull over the decision ahead.

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