East Coast of Scotland Arbroath Abbey
Foundation of the Abbey
King William the Lion founded the Arbroath Abbey in 1178 in honour of the murdered St. Thomas, Archbishop of Canterbury. It was placed in the hands of the Tironensian order based in Kelso. King William granted his new Abbey independence from the mother house. He also showered it with endowments. These included the income from 24 parishes, a toft of land in every royal burgh, lands, fisheries, salt pans, ferries and of course Arbroath itself. The monks were permitted to set up a burgh, hold a market and to build a harbour. Even King John of England granted the Abbey the privilege of buying and selling goods anywhere in England, except the City of London, toll free.
The function of Arbroath and every other Abbey was to provide an ordered way of life based on the Gospel’s teachings under which the monks could serve God and sanctify their souls. The monks did not work outside the Abbey. Their chief function was to perform the Divine Office.
Arbroath Abbey hosted the most significant event in Scottish history. On 6 April 1320 the Scottish Declaration of Independence was signed by the assembled Scottish nobility in Arbroath Abbey. The Declaration was addressed to the Pope who had given his support to Edward II and excommunicated Robert the Bruce. The nobles had to intervene in the dispute between the Bruce and the Pope. The Declaration explained how the Bruce had rescued the country from a dreadful situation and for this they would support him in all things.
Declaration of Independance
The Declaration was an inspiration for future generations. The most famous quote is this:
"For, so long as a hundred remain alive, we will never in any degree be subject to the dominion of the English. Since not for glory, riches or honours do we
fight, but for freedom alone, which no man loses but with his life."