New exhibition opens to tell the story of The Declaration of Arbroath

Historic Environment Scotland has opened a new exhibition that re-tells the story of The Declaration of Arbroath, one of the most iconic documents in Scotland’s history.

The exhibition is on view at the newly refurbished visitor centre at Arbroath Abbey, and features 50 historic artefacts, telling the story of the Abbey and its key role in Scottish history. The Declaration was sent in 1320 from Arbroath Abbey to Pope John XXII by Scotland’s barons, asking the Pontiff to recognise Robert the Bruce as the lawful King of Scots.


Included in the exhibition is the new Arbroath Tapestry, handmade by local embroiderers to celebrate the Declaration’s 700th anniversary and designed by East Lothian artist Andrew Crummy, the man behind the Great Tapestry of Scotland. People see can a new facsimile of the surviving Declaration of Arbroath, a marble tomb effigy of King William I, commissioned by King Robert I (the Bruce), and other medieval items found during excavations at Arbroath Abbey and displayed for the first time, including arrowheads from the Scottish Wars of Independence.

Photos courtesy Historic Environment Scotland

The exhibition also includeds an animated film on the letter and its reception by the Pope; an interactive console providing biographies of each of Scotland’s barons who added their names to the document, and a digital reconstruction of the Abbey as it would have been at the time of the Declaration.


“We are delighted to see this new exhibition open and retell the key role Arbroath played in the story of Scotland’s rich history,” explains Alex Paterson, Chief Executive of Historic Environment Scotland (HES). “The investment HES has made in the visitor centre refurbishment has transformed it into a state-of-the-art space where visitors can immerse themselves in this new interpretation offer and enjoy these artefacts and their connection to the Abbey, the town, and the part it played in Scotland’s history.

“One of the key aspects of this exhibition is the people and the partners that have made it possible, from the embroiderers who have created this wonderful tapestry to partners such as NRS who donated the facsimile, to our staff who have worked hard to create an immersive experience. We very much hope that visitors enjoy this new visitor experience and the retelling of one of the most iconic moments in Scotland’s history.”

Visits to the new exhibition need to be pre-booked online – click here for more details.


Sign up for our weekly email newsletter!