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Last Updated: Tuesday, 6 April, 2004, 15:34 GMT 16:34 UK
Call to mark Arbroath declaration
Arbroath Abbey (Picture by Undiscovered Scotland)
The recreation took place at Arbroath Abbey
Calls for a national holiday to mark the Declaration of Arbroath have received a mixed response from people in the Angus town.

The anniversary was celebrated on Tuesday by the Arbroath Abbey Pageant Society, which recreated the event.

Vice-president Harry Ritchie is among those who think there should be a national holiday on the day when the historic document was drafted in 1320.

But there was no definitive stance on the issue from the people of the town.

A number told BBC Scotland that they supported the calls.

One man said: "It is important for the whole world because it was the first declaration of independence where ordinary people had their say.

It is not for honour nor riches, nor glory that we fight but for liberty alone, which no true man lays down except with his life
Declaration of Arbroath
"The ordinary people gained their rights and I think it should be marked."

One woman said: "Maybe it is time that we did (mark the event) now we have got a parliament in Edinburgh.

However, one man said he did not see the point when many Scots did not know anything about the event.

And another said: "I think we have got enough national public holidays at the moment."

The Declaration of Arbroath has been described as the best known historical document in Scotland.

It was sent to the Pope six years after the battle of Bannockburn, where Robert the Bruce defeated the English.

Letter to the Pope

King Edward II had refused to make peace with Scotland and the Pope had not recognised Robert the Bruce as King of Scotland.

The country's nobles and barons sent a letter to the Pope declaring the independence of the Scots

It famously contains the line: "It is not for honour nor riches, nor glory that we fight but for liberty alone, which no true man lays down except with his life."

From history's point of view the actual event that took place on 6 April 1320 is very very important
Harry Ritchie
Arbroath Abbey Pageant Society
Four years later Rome recognised Robert the Bruce as king.

The Arbroath Abbey Pageant Society has celebrated the event every year since 1948.

Mr Ritchie said it could be classified as the birth of the nation.

"I think that while St Andrew is the patron saint of Scotland, from history's point of view the actual event that took place on 6 April 1320 is very very important.

"Without that there may not even be a Scotland today."

Bob Harris, professor of British history at Dundee University, said the declaration was "one of the less well understood moments" from the country's past.

National holidays

He said he was in favour of a national holiday because the country needed a "sustained public debate" about its past.

The power for designating national holidays rests with the Scottish Executive.

A spokesman said there were no current plans to mark the Declaration of Arbroath.

But he added: "We are always looking at ways of using memorial days to promote Scotland at home and abroad."

The date of 6 April has been adopted as Tartan Day in the US.




WATCH AND LISTEN
BBC Scotland's Andrew Anderson
"A group of enthusiasts have been reenacting the signing of the famous document."



SEE ALSO:
US events 'good for tartan pound'
04 Apr 04  |  Scotland
Sir Sean backs Tartan Day plans
02 Apr 04  |  Scotland
Tartan Day drums up support
05 Apr 03  |  Scotland
Tuning up for Tartan Day
30 Mar 03  |  Scotland


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