New Images for Declaration of Arbroath released

New photographs of the Declaration of Arbroath have been published by National Records of Scotland (NRS), ahead of the famous document going on display in June 2023. These never-before-seen photographs are being made available to mark its 703rd  anniversary, which took place in April. The Declaration will be displayed for the first time in 18 years from 3 June–2 July 2023 at the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh. The Declaration of Arbroath is a letter to the Pope sent in 1320 from the barons of the Kingdom of Scotland seeking his recognition of Robert the Bruce as the country’s lawful king.

National Records of Scotland preserves the document as part of the national collections.  

Head of Conservation Linda Ramsay said: “The Declaration of Arbroath is over seven hundred years old, so it is not only precious and historic but very fragile. The National Records of Scotland Conservation team care for the Declaration and we are working with archivists ahead of this rare opportunity for the public to see it for themselves, to ensure its preservation for future generations.”

Scotland’s medieval past

Wax seals attached to tags on the Declaration, symbolising the support of individual Scottish barons.

NRS Chief Executive Janet Egdell said:  “NRS is proud to help display the Declaration of Arbroath, one of the most prestigious documents in our collections, a record of a key period in Scottish history. The Declaration is striking but at 703 years old, it’s fragile and can only be displayed occasionally to ensure its long-term preservation, under the care of our conservation experts. I hope that these new images released today bring this key period in Scottish history to life for people and as many as possible take the chance to see the Declaration for themselves from 2 June.”

First letter of the Declaration, a sheepskin document inscribed in Latin.

Dr Alice Blackwell, Senior Curator of Medieval Archaeology and History at National Museums Scotland: “We’re delighted to be able to present this rare and fragile part of Scotland’s medieval past in a free exhibition at the National Museum of Scotland this summer. Its evocative sentiments have given the Declaration of Arbroath a special distinction, not just in Scotland but around the world.  We are looking forward to inviting visitors to learn more about this fascinating document and to enjoy a rare opportunity to see it first-hand.”

The Declaration of Arbroath will be displayed at the National Museum of Scotland from 3 June until 2 July. Admission is free and the exhibition will be in Gallery 2, Level 3, 10:00 – 17:00 daily. Further information on the Declaration and its history is available at:

All images: Mike Brooks © Queen’s Printer for Scotland, National Records of Scotland, SP13/7.

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