Arbroath and Seaton Cliffs

Arbroath from Seaton Cliffs

During our recent stay near Montrose, we ventured a few miles south to Arbroath, another town I had never visited. That’s slightly shameful, given its importance in Scottish history: the Declaration of Arbroath is a letter dated 6 April 1320 written by the barons and freeholders of the Kingdom of Scotland to Pope John XXII. It asked the pope to recognise Scotland’s independence and acknowledge Robert the Bruce as the country’s lawful king. (A very fragile copy still exists in the National Records of Scotland. Unfortunately, plans for its 700th anniversary year were ruined by Covid restrictions).

Arbroath is therefore a historic, if slightly run down, town which we wandered round after lunch. In the morning we took a walk along the spectacular Seaton Cliffs to its north which were simply beautiful – a geologist would have a field day. There were sandstone arches, deep inlets and a sea stack, the Deil’s Heid (Devil’s Head), to explore. At one point, a blocked section of path meant we had to cut through a fruit farm where we disturbed a family of deer. John managed to get one on camera before it disappeared between the polytunnels.

Back in town, we were able to walk round the outside of Arbroath Abbey only – as with many Historic Scotland properties it’s still closed “as a precautionary measure while we undertake high level masonry inspections”.

We could have gone into the library, but I didn’t inflict that on John! It’s very attractive outside, with an unamused Queen Victoria above the door, flanked by two allegorical figures on each side. In the gardens to the front is a statue of Robert Burns, erected by Arbroath Burns Club in 1959.

Arbroath is a fishing town with a harbour established in the 12th century, and is particularly famous for its Arbroath Smokies, a smoked haddock delicacy (if you like that sort of thing).

Finally, a few random sights around town. The distinctive white building is the Signal Tower Museum (we didn’t go into that either!) and the double statue celebrates the aforementioned Declaration of Arbroath.

Not sure what will come next in my Montrose account – could be a garden, could be a castle, could be a beach – the area is packed with interest!

48 Comments »

  1. I know I’ve said it before, but I really do envy the history you have in Scotland. Although our country has been inhabited for just as long, we don’t have the statues, written records, or buildings that exist in Europe. I find them just fascinating!

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  2. Hi Anabel – I enjoy Smokies … while that scenery and the town look really interesting to look around, and a reason to go back at some stage … – I enjoyed that – cheers Hilary

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  3. Ah.. A new Declaration of Arbroath! I always think Queen V looks sour faced at the best of times. Anyway, yes, an interesting place but a great pity about the Abbey being closed off. Interesting Library building I’m sure himself would have appreciated a wander into the library..

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  4. That’s one area I have visited on the East Coast. Very impressive sea cliffs… rock formations… and I came back with a big smokie in the days when I could still eat fish.

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