The Declaration of Arbroath will be displayed at the National Museum of Scotland from 3 June this year, but you can find out more about it now.

In this talk, recorded on the Declaration’s 700th anniversary in 2020, archivist Dr Alan Borthwick spoke about the document’s long and surprising history, and more about its significance…

6 April 2023 is the 703rd anniversary of the Declaration of Arbroath – perhaps the most iconic 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 the most famous document 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.

The Declaration of Arbroath, late 2019 (Mike Brooks © Queen’s Printer for Scotland, National Records of Scotland, SP13/7)
Overhead view of the Declaration of Arbroath, late 2019 (Mike Brooks © Queen’s Printer for Scotland, National Records of Scotland, SP13/7)
Engraving of the Declaration in Anderson, Diplomata, published 1739
Seal of Sir Ingram de Umfraville, died circa 1321 (Mike Brooks © Queen’s Printer for Scotland, National Records of Scotland, SP13/7)
Revised version of the Diplomata engraving, circa 1822
Declaration photozincography, 1867
Declaration stamp and first day book, 1970

This summer, watch out on Open Book and follow NRS on Twitter for more on the Declaration of Arbroath.

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