New Exhibition at Arbroath Abbey

All new exhibition opens at Arbroath Abbey visitor centre marks the 700th anniversary of the Declaration of Arbroath.
The new exhibition explores the history of the Abbey from its founding in 1178 to the present day. Its centrepiece is a major display on the Declaration of Arbroath, incorporating a faithful facsimile of the original document and the Arbroath Embroidered Tapestry.

Arbroath Abbey was one of the largest and most powerful abbeys of medieval Scotland. Founded by King William I in 1178, it later had close links with King Robert the Bruce and flourished until the Protestant Reformation of 1560. Its red sandstone remains still bear witness to its scale and majesty.

The upcoming exhibition at the Arbroath Abbey will be the first major overhaul the Visitor’s Centre has had since 2001. The exhibition will tell the story of Arbroath Abbey since its founding in 1178. The focus will be on the Declaration of Arbroath establishing it within the context of the Abbey. As part of the exhibition a new replica of the Declaration of Arbroath will be on display, as well as the Arbroath Tapestry. As part of the new exhibition the Visitor’s Centre will have completely new graphics and audio-visual presentations. New digital and tactile models of the Abbey will be present in addition to historical artefacts, both the familiar favourites and some newly added. A display of a medieval regality register and a modern replica of the Monymusk reliquary will be shown in addition to new dressing up costumes for visitors.

The exhibition aims to provide a new perspective on life at the Abbey and the royal connections it fostered. New educational events and materials have been put together. An illustrated children’s booklet by artist Andrew bar and a toolkit for schools and youth groups will enhance the learning experience of the Abbey. While the family craft workshops at the Abbey and an experts’ talk at the Webster Theatre will provide opportunities for creativity and conversation.

Highlights include:

  • A faithful facsimile of the surviving the Declaration of Arbroath, created using appropriate materials by the internationally renowned craftsman, David Frank. The original document, held by National Records of Scotland in Edinburgh, is too fragile to go on long-term display [but will be displayed for one month at the National Museum of Scotland, in Edinburgh]

 

  • A short and light-hearted animated film presentation, to help visitors quickly understand the Declaration’s context, content and consequences.

 

  • The Arbroath Tapestry, created by local embroiderers to celebrate the Declaration’s 700th anniversary.

 

  • Displays of objects related to the Abbey, such as
    • arrowheads of the Wars of Independence era;
    • stone carvings including a royal tombstone;
    • decorated glass and glazed floor tiles;
    • a medieval book recording events at the abbey for 200 years;
    • a medieval inkpot and styluses used for writing by medieval monks …
    • and a tiny spoon for removing wax from ears.
  • A new computer-generated flythrough model of the Abbey when complete.
  • A new tactile scale model, suitable for visitors with impaired sight.
  • New display panels describing the Abbey’s long and eventful history.

The exhibition will be displayed in the Abbey’s purpose-built visitor centre, which has been refurbished as part of the £230,000 investment project. The visitor centre opened in 2001 and the displays have not been fully updated since then.

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