Not strictly speaking a church but none the the less it was once a significant place of worship in Scotland. It was also a place of very great significance in Scottish History.
Founded in 1178 by King William the Lion it was constructed from local Red Sandstone from Arbroath’s cliffs.
Despite the passage of time, various disasters – both natural and hostile, there are still enough of the ruins remaining to give visitors a good impression of the original size and height of the Abbey. It survived as a place of worship until after the Scottish Reformation of 1560. After that disrepair, and of course the robbing of stones to build local buildings, took its real toll .
King William the Lion of Scotland reign was between 1165 and 1214 a significant Scottish warrior but one who commanded great respect from the population at large. Nor did he get his name of The Lion because of his fighting prowess but much more simply it was after the Red Lion of the Flag he carried. That same Red Lion Rampant with the forked tail is still today’s Royal Standard of Scotland instantly recognisable…
King William will always remain a part of Arbroath Abbey as he was laid to rest in the long nave ….a stone marker is said to mark the spot..
Historically Arbroath is also remembered as the place where the ” Declaration of Scottish Independence” (sometime known as the Arbroath Declaration) was drafted. The Declaration was a Document written to the Pope. It was drafted on the 6th April 1320 by the Abbot Bernard of Arbroath, affixed with the seals of Scottish Barons and Nobility, asserting the right to reject England’s claims to Scotland. The outcome still resulted in hostilities and disputes between Scotland and England with perhaps those disputes though less hostile are continuing today.
Scottish Heritage who care for the ruins have done a good job in restoring the Abbots House. Inside they have tried to create the atmosphere of the times…
Well worth adding Arbroath to any itinerary when visiting Scotland
(C) David Oakes 2016