Marking the anniversary of the Declaration of Arbroath during lockdown

Monday 6 April 2020 marked the 700th anniversary of the Declaration of Arbroath.

The declaration is a letter written on the 6th April 1320 by the Barons of Scotland on behalf of the realm, to Pope John XXII, which asked for Scotland to be recognised as an independent country and acknowledge Robert I as the country’s lawful king.

To keep everyone safe and stop the spread of Coronavirus, the Arbroath 2020 festival, including the Angus Place Partnership Exhibition within Arbroath Library, has been postponed to 2021 when the celebration of the landmark national day will have dual significance as we all remember this difficult time.

ANGUSalive Museums, Galleries and Archives have put together a week-long feature on Facebook and Instagram so everyone can still find out about some of the fascinating objects connected with the period of the Declaration of Arbroath.

From William the Lions tooth to popular china souvenir ware which many people may have collected, the objects have a unique background.

Monday’s featured object of the week was a fine bronze of Robert the Bruce in the Angus Council collections, managed by ANGUSalive, said to be modelled by the artist from a cast of the skull of the king. The sculptor was Charles d’Orville Pilkington Jackson, also well known for creating the large iconic equestrian statue of Robert the Bruce, which can be seen at the site of the Battle of Bannockburn. 

Today’s #WednesdayWisdom post explains the connection between Arbroath harbour and the abbey. Did you know the first harbour built in 1394 was known as the Abbot’s Harbour after its founder Abbot John Geddy?

On Friday we show the most unusual object, a human tooth reputedly that of King William the Lion, who founded Arbroath Abbey in 1178, (those who are squeamish might need to look away!) On Saturday there is an opportunity for virtual visitors to show us their collections as we feature china souvenir ware made popular by the Victorians and Edwardians who liked taking home a souvenir depicting the abbey they had visited.

Rachel Jackson, ANGUSalive’s Museums Exhibitions Lead said: “Social media gives us a great opportunity to connect with people about the rich heritage of Angus and learn about this period of history through some of our unusual objects that we researched during the preparations for the heritage exhibition now taking place in 2021.

“We hope people of all ages can take a peek at our Facebook page throughout the week to find a little more about this important time in history.”

ANGUSalive Museums and Galleries facebook page can be found at https://www.facebook.com/ANGUSaliveMuseums/. The week-long Declaration of Arbroath social media activity takes place from Monday 6 – Sunday 12 April.