It is the majestic Nave of Arbroath Abbey that gives you the first clue to the size and importance that the Abbey was both to the community and to Scotland’s heritage. Even though much of the Abbey is now in ruin you cannot be in any doubt of just how big and how well spread the Abbey once was.
The SOUTH TRANCEPT from across the Precinct and Cloisters.
Founded in 1174 by King William 1, known as ‘William the Lion’ , he dedicated it to his friend and the Martyr Archbishop Thomas Becket ( assassinated at Canterbury). So perhaps it is fitting that when he died in 1214 William was buried in the centre of the Nave in front of the High Alter. For a King of Scotland it seems a rather understated place of rest.
Within the Abbot’s House, Historic Scotland have created a small but interesting museum well worth investigating.
But perhaps it is The DECLARATION OF ARBROATH of 1320 that binds the Abbey for ever to Scotland’s declaration of independence.
“ For as long as but a hundred of us remain alive,
never will we on any condition be brought under English rule.”
A Scottish desire still very much as important to-day as in 1320.
A LINK WITH THE SEA – THE BIG O.
At the top of the South Transept is a large circular window….know locally as the BIG O. For centuries Fishermen and sailors have used this landmark as a navigation aid for taking a bearing, even Stephenson used the window whilst building Inchcape Lighthouse. He found it so important that he arrange for the window to be restored to secure its continued use for all.
ARBROATH – The TOWN
The colourful Harbour, once a busy fishing port now very much relies on the change to a Marina. Perhaps the Marina also encouraged the facelift of the harbour frontage for the rest of the town is dull red sandstone. But there are still some traditional fishing, crab and lobster boats….but not many.
But should you wish to delve deeper into Arbroath’s history then a visit to the ‘WATCH TOWER’ now the home of a very local museum.
A SOCIAL STATEMENT (sorry)(Sorry!)
It is some years since I last visited Arbroath and I cannot say that I left impressed. The decline of the fishing industry as well as other industries had left its toll on the community. Historical connections do not supply that many jobs. Returning to-day I cannot say it has changed much. Yes, there has been some new developments…..but if that development amounts to two supermarkets (Tesco and Morrison adjacent to each other) and a rather sparce Visitors Centre, then it is not enough.
Outside the town there are some Country Houses and large Farms. In parts of the town there are some smart homes but very few. By way the biggest housing developments appear to be what we now refer to as Social Housing.
Walk around the town you have an unreal contrast between the Aston Martins, Range Rovers and BMW’s with rather tarnished older cars and some dismal surroundings……very stark contrasts. But it is the high number of young people that appear to have nothing to do but ‘’hang around’, many with pushchairs and children in tow. Local comment is that drug and drink abuse is high leading to some violence. But what hope do they have of getting a job….very little, very sad.