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Last Updated: Sunday, 14 August 2005, 23:47 GMT 00:47 UK
Historic documents go on display
Declaration of Arbroath (Image from the National Archives of Scotland)
The Declaration of Arbroath will be housed in a special case
Three documents which helped shape Scotland's history are going on show at the Scottish Parliament.

The 1320 Declaration of Arbroath will be the centrepiece of the exhibition at Holyrood to mark the 700th anniversary of William Wallace's death.

It will be displayed in a purpose-built hermetically sealed case.

The only surviving document written by Wallace and a 14th Century compilation of Scottish Parliament acts will also feature in the exhibition.

The Ayr Manuscript is the second-oldest surviving text of laws passed by the Scottish Parliament.

The Lübeck Letter - which was issued by Wallace in 1297 to inform European trading partners that Scottish ports were open for business once again - has been borrowed from Germany to go on display in Edinburgh.

These documents helped shape our nation and I am delighted to be displaying them in the new home of Scotland's parliament
George MacKenzie
Keeper of the Records of Scotland

The Declaration of Arbroath, which is held in the National Archives of Scotland, has not been put on public display for five years due to its frail condition.

However, a special case has been constructed to preserve the manuscript for future generations by slowing down the effects which can cause organic material like parchment to deteriorate.

The National Archives of Scotland first contacted Dr Shin Maekawa, a senior scientist at the Getty Conservation Institute (GCI) in California, more than a decade ago to seek information and advice.

The case designed by Getty has been constructed by a team from the mechanical and chemical engineering department at Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh.

Ayr Manuscript (Image from the National Archives of Scotland)
The Ayr Manuscript contains parliamentary acts

The letter was sent to the Pope by eight Scottish earls and 38 barons, calling on him to recognise Scotland's independence and acknowledge Robert the Bruce as king.

It contains the lines: "As long as but a hundred of us remain alive, never will we on any conditions be brought under English rule.

"It is in truth not for glory, nor riches, nor honours, that we are fighting, but for freedom - for that alone, which no honest man gives up but with life itself."

George MacKenzie, Keeper of the Records of Scotland, said: "These documents helped shape our nation and I am delighted to be displaying them in the new home of Scotland's parliament."

The For Freedom Alone exhibition runs from Monday until 9 September in the parliament's main hall.

The Ayr Manuscript is also the featured document of the month on the National Archives of Scotland's website.


SEE ALSO:
Public to see Arbroath document
01 Apr 05 |  Scotland


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