Culture

Intricate, Three-Panel Tapestry Celebrates The Declaration of Arbroath

“As long as but a hundred of us remain alive, never will we on any conditions be brought under English rule. It is in truth not for glory, nor riches, nor honours, that we are fighting, but for freedom – for that alone, which no honest man gives up but with life itself”.


This year will see commemorations to mark the signing of The Declaration of Arbroath in 1320.

Declaration of Arbroath Tapestry HES

As part of the celebrations a beautiful tapestry has been produced by: Ann Marie Bray, Pat Beaton, Rena Freeburn, Janette Nairn, Christine Riley (tutor), Alice Sim,Jessy Smart, Mary Stephen, Linda Walker (group co-ordinator) and Margaret Wynne. The women are textile artists and embroiderers from Angus.

The Arbroath Tapestry’s three richly-coloured panels were designed by Andrew Crummy, designer of the Great Tapestry of Scotland.

Linda Walker, the group’s coordinator said:

“The central panel portrays Robert the Bruce and Abbot Bernard of Arbroath writing the Declaration.

“The two smaller panels represent the role and influence of the Abbey within Arbroath.

“The left panel features William I, founder of the Abbey, along with a fisherwoman, highlighting the importance of the local fishing industry.

“The right panel represents the many trades which were involved in building and maintaining the Abbey and depicts two Scottish nobles setting sail to deliver the Declaration to Avignon.”

Before starting work on the Tapestry, the project’s embroidery and textile artists carried out in-depth research on medieval threads, dyes and stitches.

Linda continued:

“We were determined to reflect the materials, colours and style of the tapestries which once adorned the walls of Arbroath Abbey.

“It’s wonderful that the Arbroath Tapestry will be resurrecting this medieval tradition when it goes on display in the Abbey in April.”

The tapestry is decorated with Arbroath’s unique Oslin apples, introduced to the area by the Abbey’s monks, and 46 seals of the barons who ‘signed’ the Declaration of Arbroath.

Linda said:

“These seals were very tricky as they’re small and very detailed – and had to be accurate depictions of the seals on the original Declaration.

“Each seal involved hours and hours of research before we even started stitching.”

The intricate, three-panel tapestry was handed over to the safe-keeping of Historic Environment Scotland where it was unveiled at a special reception at The Scottish Parliament. The tapestry will be on long-term display in Arbroath Abbey in early April to coincide with the 700-year anniversary of the Declaration of Arbroath.

The Declaration of Arbroath is considered as the most important document in Scotland’s history. Declaration of Arbroath

Declaration of Arbroath FG

The Declaration is a letter written in 1320 by the barons and whole community of the kingdom of Scotland to the pope, asking him to recognise Scotland’s independence and acknowledge Robert the Bruce as the country’s lawful king. You can find out more here: National Library of Scotland

The tapestry is part of the Arbroath 2020 events.

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