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Living in Broughty Ferry Dundee it’s a short hop down the river to Arbroath Abbey. And growing up  in Scotland in the long shadow of the Second World War (rationing finished in 1954 when I was 18 months old) I wasn’t particularly aware of the Abbey’s closeness or significance. Good education though I got there were gaps. And from recent visits I’ve realised Arbroath Abbey is a special and important place.

Founded in the 12th Century by King David the Lion its most famous moment was of course the signing of the Declaration of Arbroath in 1320. The Scots’ Nobles petitioned the Pope in order to assert their rights to be independent of England. And the Declaration contains the famous lines ‘As long as but a hundred of us remain alive we will in no way submit to English domination…’ Stirring stuff. Then come the Reformatin in the 16th Century, well we all know how that story goes!

But a few years before I was born Arbroath Abbey had another high profile gig you might say. Christmas Day 1950 saw the return of the Stone of Destiny (traditionally used to crown Scottish Kings) from Westminster Abbey. Only problem was that it had been stolen and brought back over the border in a car by a group of Scottish Nationalist Law Students led by a man called IanHamilton! Afte a brief stopover it was taken back to Westminster. Finally in the 1990s the Stone of Destiny was returned to Scotland and now sits at Edinburgh Castle. A few years ago a campaign was begun to obtain World Heritage recognition from the UN – well worth supporting I think. And the Abbey is well worth a visit.

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