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2020 marks the 700th anniversary of the Declaration of Arbroath, one of Scotland's most important historical artefacts.

Podcast

To mark the 700th anniversary we spoke to two experts to understand more about how the Declaration of Arbroath was created, and why it still resonates today. 

In this podcast we are joined by National Museums Scotland's Dr Alice Blackwell, Senior Curator of Medieval Archaeology & History, and Professor Dauvit Broun, Professor of Scottish History at the University of Glasgow.

Listen to the podcast now on anchor.fm or Spotify, or in the player below:

The Declaration of Arbroath

The Declaration is a letter dated 6 April 1320 written by the barons and freeholders of the Kingdom of Scotland to Pope John XXII. The letter asked the pope to recognise Scotland's independence and acknowledge Robert the Bruce as the country's lawful king.

Despite the Scots' success at Bannockburn, Robert I had not been recognised as king by either King Edward II of England or the Pope.

At the time, the Pope desired peace between England and Scotland so that both kingdoms could help in a crusade to the Holy Land. The Declaration sought to influence him by offering the possibility of support from the Scots for his long-desired crusade if they no longer had to fear English invasion.

Declaration of Arbroath image © National Records Scotland.

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Wax Seals

The Declaration of Arbroath

Written in Latin, the letter was sealed by eight earls and about 40 barons. It was authenticated by seals, as documents at that time were not usually signed. Only 19 seals now remain.

The surviving Declaration is a copy of the letter made at the same time as the one sent to the pope in Avignon (which is now lost). It is cared for by National Records of Scotland and is so fragile that it can only be displayed occasionally in order to ensure its long-term preservation.

Find out more about the Declaration of Arbroath on the National Records of Scotland website, including a transcription and translation of the Declaration text. 

Declaration of Arbroath postponement

Please note

The Declaration of Arbroath display has been postponed until further notice. We will make a further announcement once new display dates have been agreed.

In partnership with

National Records of Scotland

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