THE Declaration of Arbroath is set to be displayed this summer for the first time in 18 years.

Visitors will be able to see the famous document when it goes on display from June 3 to July 2 at the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh. 

The iconic and fragile 700-year-old document was last on display at the Scottish Parliament.

The Declaration of Arbroath is a letter dated April 6 1320, written by the barons and freeholders of Scotland, on behalf of the Kingdom of Scotland, to Pope John XXII asking him to recognise Scotland’s independence and acknowledge Robert the Bruce as the country’s lawful king.

The National:

Robert the Bruce had not been recognised as King by either Edward II or the Pope in spite of the Scots’ success at the Battle of Bannockburn.

Culture Secretary Angus Robertson said it was a document of “great historical and cultural interest” to people around the world.

“The display of this iconic document will give people from across Scotland and further afield a wonderful opportunity to visit the museum and see this important piece of history for themselves.”

The letter also asked the Pontiff to persuade King Edward II of England to end hostilities against the Scots.

The document can only be displayed every so often in order to ensure its long-term preservation.

It was initially due to be displayed in April 2020 to coincide with its 700th anniversary, but this had to be postponed due to the pandemic with this new summer date chosen to give as many people as possible the rare chance to see the document.

Senior curator of medieval archaeology and history at National Museums Scotland Alice Blackwell said: “We are delighted to have the opportunity to display the Declaration of Arbroath here at the National Museum of Scotland.

“It is a hugely significant document and a vital piece of Scotland’s history. We look forward to welcoming many visitors to enjoy the rare opportunity of seeing this iconic document close up.”

It is thought that the Declaration was drafted at a meeting of the King and his council at Newbattle then written up in the scriptorium of Arbroath Abbey.

READ MORE: Declaration of Arbroath: 700-year-old letter to pope is key to Scotland’s story

Written in Latin, it was sealed by eight earls and about forty barons. It was authenticated by seals, as documents at that time were not signed.

After receiving the declaration, the Pope urged reconciliation between the warring sides and a truce was agreed in 1323.

Deputy keeper for the National Records of Scotland Laura Mitchell said: “The Declaration of Arbroath is a key treasure in our extensive collection and we are proud of the role we play in conserving this significant historical artefact for future generations.

“The display will allow Scots and visitors from further afield to see this famous document for the first time in 18 years.”