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Last Updated: Saturday, 9 February 2008, 01:08 GMT
Arbroath Abbey's powerful history
Stone of destiny
The stolen Stone of Destiny was found in the Abbey

Campaigners believe Arbroath Abbey should be named a world heritage site because of the history surrounding the building.

It was founded in 1178 by King William the Lion in honour of St Thomas, the Archbishop of Canterbury, who had been murdered.

The abbey was occupied by Tironensian monks from Kelso.

However, it is most well-known for being the place where the Declaration of Arbroath was signed - regarded by many as the most famous document in Scottish history.

It is believed the document was drafted by Abbot Bernard on 6 April 1320 on behalf of nobles and barons of Scotland.

The document urged Pope John XXII to recognise Scotland's independence.

Its most famous phrase is: "For, 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."

Declaration of Arbroath (picture National Archives of Scotland)
The Declaration of Arbroath was written in 1320

The Declaration of Arbroath is believed by some to have been an influence on those drawing up the American Declaration of Independence.

After the Reformation of 1560 the abbey fell into ruin.

In the 1590s some of the stones were used to build a new church and houses in the town.

It was only in 1815 that steps started to be taken to preserve the ruins.

However, that was not the end of the Arbroath Abbey story.

The building once again made the news when on Christmas Day in 1950 the Stone of Destiny was stolen from Westminster Abbey.

The stone had been used in the coronation of Scottish kings before being removed by Edward I of England in 1296.

It reappeared on 11 April 1951 when it was discovered on the site of the high altar at Arbroath Abbey.

SEE ALSO
Plea for Abbey world recognition
09 Feb 08 |  Tayside and Central

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