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22 January 2020

Final Stitches Sewn into Arbroath Tapestry

After 1,950 hours of needlework, the final stitches of the Arbroath Tapestry have been sewn by a highly-skilled group of Angus embroidery and textile artists

View of the South transept and Sacristy of Arbroath Abbey from the Cloister

Created as part of the Arbroath 2020 celebrations, 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 Arbroath Tapestry commemorates the 700th anniversary of the Declaration of Arbroath and the history and heritage of Arbroath Abbey so we’re absolutely thrilled it’s to become part of the Abbey’s collection,” said Linda Walker, one of the ten embroidery and textile artists who worked on the tapestry.

We created the Arbroath Tapestry for the people of Arbroath so it’s only fitting it will be displayed for all to see within our town’s historic Abbey during the Arbroath 2020 commemorations and beyond.

The Declaration of Arbroath was a letter sent from Scotland’s nobles to Pope John in Avignon on April 6, 1320. Widely acknowledged as one of Scotland’s most important documents, the 700th anniversary of the Declaration of Arbroath has inspired Arbroath 2020, a highly impressive six-month programme of special events.

Alex Paterson, Chief Executive of Historic Environment Scotland (HES), who manage Arbroath Abbey, said:

We’re delighted to be receiving the Arbroath Tapestry and making it part of the Abbey's continuing story.

"This amazing piece of craftsmanship not only tells the story of the Declaration of Arbroath but also covers key moments in the history of the Abbey right up to the present day."

This magnificent Tapestry doesn’t just pay tribute to the importance of the Declaration – it also shows how the people of Arbroath are working together in imaginative ways to celebrate the extraordinary history of their town and its Abbey.

Angus South MSP Graeme Dey who hosted the event in Parliament, commented:  

The painstaking work, stretching to almost 2,000 hours in total, on the part of Linda Walker and her team has produced a stunning tapestry which memorably captures the history of the Declaration and all it stands for.

I’m in no doubt the Tapestry will prove a real crowd puller when it goes on display in the Abbey and everyone fortunate enough to see it, will I am sure marvel at the dedication and skill which has gone into creating it.”

The Arbroath Tapestry’s three richly-coloured panels were designed by Andrew Crummy, designer of the Great Tapestry of Scotland. “The central panel portrays Robert the Bruce and Abbot Bernard of Arbroath writing the Declaration,” explains Linda Walker. “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. “We were determined to reflect the materials, colours and style of the tapestries which once adorned the walls of Arbroath Abbey,” said Linda Walker. “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.

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

Karen Dick, Interim Head of Place, Partnerships and Communities at Creative Scotland said:

The showcasing of the Arbroath Tapestry in Arbroath Abbey demonstrates the rich cultural heritage of Angus. Creative Scotland’s Angus Place Partnership is supporting the Arbroath 2020 celebrations, and we hope it will increase ambition and opportunity for both artists and audiences across the region.

For more information about the Arbroath Tapestry and the Arbroath 2020 celebrations, visit:

Arbroath 2020 Programme

Editors’ Notes

  1. Embroiders and Textile artists involved in the Arbroath Tapestry project are 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.
  2. The Arbroath Tapestry project has been made possible through fund raising events and donations as well as generous support from Thornton’s Law Aberbrothock Trust and Arbroath Guildry Improvement Trust.
  3. Arbroath 2020 is a registered charity (registration number SC047857). The Arbroath 2020 committee, which is supported by the Angus Place Partnership Creative Producer, Pippa Martin, aims to advance heritage and culture through an ambitious programme of cultural and creative activity.
  4. Angus Place Partnership began in January 2019 and will run for three years. Funded through Creative Scotland’s Place Partnership Programme, Angus Place Partnership aims to strengthen existing partnerships and support new partnerships to ensure excellent culture is an important part of the identify of Angus.
  5. Arbroath 2020’s principal funders to date are Angus Council and Creative Scotland, with support also provided by VisitScotland and Historic Environment Scotland.
  6. Arbroath 2020 Timeline

Events/Projects to date – more to be announced on the Arbroath 2020 website

January, 2020 onwards         

  • Arbroath 2020 Flags and Banners: Flag poles and buildings throughout Arbroath will be decorated with Arbroath 2020 flags and banners throughout 2020

March 2020    

  • Arbroath The Orchard: Inspired by the Tironsian monks of Arbroath Abbey, who planted apple trees within the abbey’s grounds, a project to plant fruit trees across Arbroath

April 4, 2020   

  • Arbroath Abbey Historic Re-enactment Event: A chance to step back in time to Arbroath Abbey’s medieval glory days 
  • ‘Of Light Breaking’: World premiere of a new choral work by Paul Mealor and Grahame Davies, performed by 300 singers from Angus choirs

April 5, 2020   

  • Arbroath 2020 Procession: Over 500 people march from Arbroath Abbey to Arbroath Harbour, where a re-enactment of the Declaration of Arbroath setting sail to the Pope in Avignon will take place
  • The Big Eco Lunch: A foodie celebration of the tastes and flavours of Angus

April 12, 2020

  • Arbroath Declaration Half Marathon and Fun Run

April 19, 2020 

  • Arbroath Declaration Boxing Championship

July/August, 2020

  • Arbroath Skate and BMX Fun Day and JAM

September, 2020

  • Arbroath 2020 Finale Event: Information about this top-secret event to be announced soon

About Historic Environment Scotland (HES)

  • We are the lead public body charged with caring for, protecting and promoting the historic environment. We will lead on delivering Scotland’s first strategy for the historic environment, Our Place in Time.
  • Historic Scotland, Scran, Canmore, The National Collection of Aerial Photography (NCAP), The Engine Shed, Stirling Castle and Edinburgh Castle are sub-brands of HES.
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Follow Historic Environment Scotland

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For further information, please contact:

Jean Patterson
Arbroath 2020
Mobile: 07773 849 586
jennie@patterpr.com

Dean Hendry
Historic Environment Scotland Media Office
Direct line: 0131 668 8714
Mobile: 07468 759 137
communications@hes.scot

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