Charles I (1625-49) turner, coinage of 1642, 1644, 1648 and 1650.

Worth two pence Scot, this coin offers an example of copper coinage struck during the reign of Charles I.

The design bears a crowned C R, for King Charles, on the obverse. The reverse consists of a thistle in inner circle.

The Latin inscription is at legend on both sides, with the obverse reading CAR. DG. SCOT. ANG. FRA. ET. HIB. R. This translates as: Charles by the grace of God King of Scotland, England, France and Ireland. On the reverse is the Latin inscription, NEMO ME IMPVNE LACESSET, which means 'no-one shall hurt me with impunity'.

During the Civil Wars years, 1642-60, copper turners were the only coins milled in Scotland. At this time, both the names turner and bodle were in use to indicate a two penny piece. The former is thought to be derived from the French 'tournois'; while the latter is possibly after the Earl of Bothwell. Charles became King in 1625 but his Scottish coronation did not take place until 1633. His reign culminated in civil war and his execution.

Arbroath Abbey

Arbroath Abbey shows how Scotland’s medieval monarchs mixed piety and politics.

William I – also known as William the Lion – founded the abbey in 1178. He asked the Tironensian monks from Kelso Abbey to establish the monastery.

The abbey was intended:

  • as a memorial to William’s childhood friend Thomas Becket, the murdered Archbishop of Canterbury
  • to help the king to expand his authority in the north-east of Scotland
  • to demonstrate the king’s right to rule

The king was buried in front of the abbey’s high altar following his death in 1214. Before this, Scottish monarchs had traditionally been laid to rest in the royal mausoleum at Dunfermline Abbey.

William’s legacy was an outstandingly beautiful building. Though badly damaged, it remains an important symbol and landmark.

The abbey church and monastic buildings

The abbey church at the heart of the monastic complex comprised:

  • a presbytery
  • a monks’ choir
  • two transepts
  • chapel aisles
  • a nine-bay nave with aisles

The presbytery, sacristy and south transept survive to a large extent. But the most complete part of the abbey is its strikingly beautiful west front – a captivating example of European twin-towered church façade design.

Domestic buildings were grouped around a small cloister on the south side of the church and, unusually, a second cloister further south.

Most of these survive only as foundations, except for:

  • the abbot’s house – one of the most complete abbot’s residences in Britain
  • the gatehouse, the guesthouse and a substantial stretch of precinct wall

Declaration of Arbroath

Arbroath Abbey is best known for the Declaration of Arbroath. The most famous document in Scottish history was a letter to Pope John XXII sent by 39 Scottish nobles, barons and freemen in response to the renewed excommunication of Robert the Bruce.

Although Robert I defeated Edward II of England at Bannockburn in 1314, the Wars of Independence carried on. Robert I had been excommunicated in 1306 – after murdering his rival John Comyn and seizing the crown – but was absolved by Bishop Wishart of Glasgow.

Robert I went on to capture Berwick from the English in 1318, during a papal truce. The English persuaded Pope John to renew his excommunication.

The letter to Pope John was an ‘apologia’ (formal written defence) setting out Scotland’s case that it was an independent, sovereign kingdom. Abbot Bernard of Arbroath – chancellor to Robert I – likely drafted the letter, which was sent from the abbey in April 1320.

Its most famous lines are: “It is in truth not for glory, nor riches, nor honours that we are fighting, but for freedom – for that alone, which no honest man gives up but with life itself.”

Protestant Reformation

Religious life in the abbey continued until the Protestant Reformation of 1560. Parts of the abbey were dismantled in 1580 to build a new burgh church. The condition of the buildings has been much the same since 1700.

The abbey’s famous ‘Round O’ – the circular window in the south transept gable – became a landmark for mariners. Robert Stevenson, grandfather of the novelist Robert Louis Stevenson, rebuilt it in 1809.

The Stone of Destiny was found beside the high altar in March 1951, three months after its removal from Westminster Abbey. The event put Arbroath Abbey in the national spotlight once more.

Natural history

White stonecrop, a plant commonly found in southern England, grows on the abbey’s stonework. It once had medicinal uses.

Culpeper’s Complete Herbal (1649) says of white stonecrop: “It resists pestilential fevers and is good for tertian agues [a form of malaria in which the fever occurs every third day]. Bruised and applied outwardly, it helps the King’s-evil [a form of tuberculosis, formerly held to be curable by the royal touch]. But it should be used with caution when given internally. The juice causes vomiting.”

Find out more about Arbroath Abbey

Details

Date Made
1642-1650
Dimensions
dia 20mm (dia 13/16")
Property Information
Arbroath Abbey
Object Number
ARB259
Access Status
Storage

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