6 April 2020 is the 700th anniversary of the Declaration of Arbroath – perhaps the most famous and important of Scotland’s historic documents.

Drafted in 1320, the Declaration is a powerful call for recognition of the Kingdom of Scotland’s sovereign independence and it’s a key treasure in the National Records of Scotland archives.

The Declaration is a letter written by the barons and freeholders of Scotland, on behalf of the Kingdom of Scotland, to Pope John XXII asking him to recognise Scotland’s independence and acknowledge Robert the Bruce as the country’s lawful king.

The letter also asks the Pontiff to persuade King Edward II of England to end hostilities against the Scots, so that their energy may be better used to secure the frontiers of Christendom.

Dr Alan Borthwick is head of Medieval and Early Modern Records at NRS. He’s studied the Declaration and other documents from the period throughout his career and in this talk, he answers many frequently asked questions – where was the Declaration written? Who wrote it, and when? And how have perceptions of its meaning and importance changed through the centuries since it was created?

Dr Borthwick refers to images of the Declaration during his talk and you can find these below. You can also find much more information on the Declaration and its history here at the NRS website.


DOA wide angle 1
The Declaration of Arbroath, late 2019


Declaration new image
Overhead view of the Declaration of Arbroath, late 2019


DoA engraving in Anderson, Diplomata
Engraving of the Declaration in Anderson, Diplomata, published 1739


Seal of Sir Ingram de Unfraville died c 1321
Seal of Sir Ingram de Umfraville, died circa 1321


DoA revised version of diplomata engraving c 1822
Revised version of the Diplomata engraving, circa 1822


DoA Photozincography 1867
Declaration photozincography, 1867


1970 stamp and first day cover
Declaration stamp and first day book, 1970


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