Arbroath Abbey

Arbroath Abbey, with Visitor Centre (2001)
©2022 Gazetteer for Scotland

Arbroath Abbey, with Visitor Centre (2001)

An historic monument in the royal burgh of Arbroath, Angus, Arbroath Abbey was originally founded for the grey-clad monks of the order of Tiron in 1178 by King William the Lion. It was St Thomas of Canterbury's apparent supernatural intervention in the capture of King William at Alnwick in 1174 that prompted him to establish the abbey after his return from imprisonment in Normandy. The presbytery at the east end was the first part of the building completed by the king's death in 1214 and it was here that William the Lion was buried 19 years before the final consecration of the abbey in 1233. The Declaration of Arbroath, which confirmed the nobility's support for Scottish independence from English domination, was signed at the abbey in 1320.

The abbey is maintained by Historic Environment Scotland, which built a major new visitor's centre that opened in 2001. This cost £1.8 million and is of a modern design, yet sympathetic to the existing structure of the abbey. The centre provides extensive displays which provide the interpretation of the abbey remains and explain the significance of the Declaration of Arbroath.

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