It was a letter. Just a letter. In the final analysis, that’s all it was.

Effectively it was a love letter. Or maybe more of a begging letter.

Dear Pope, here’s who we are, we love you, can you get the English to behave, please. Signed, Scotland.

The Declaration of Arbroath was created in the year 1320 when Robert the Bruce was just about managing to rule his kingdom in peace.

The King of England, Edward II, was still bleating on about being Scotland’s overlord, despite his humiliation at Bannockburn, and the Pope, John XXII, had not quite forgiven the Bruce for murdering John Comyn on holy ground in 1306.

The earls and barons of Scotland came together to approve with their personal seals the letter written most probably by Bernard of Kilwinning, then Chancellor of Scotland and Abbot of Arbroath and one of the Bruce’s key allies over many years.

When it is put on public display next year to mark its 700th anniversary, I would urge everyone who can to go and visit - nay, pay homage - to the foundation document of the Scottish nation. It will help if you can read Latin as the Declaration was written in the lingua franca of the time.

The Declaration you will see is one of three copies that were made in 1320. The other two were lost, including the one taken to the Pope at Avignon.

The names of those who signed the Declaration can be seen, written in Latin, the seals of many of them still attached.

The Declaration of Arbroath should really be named the Declaration of Scottish Independence for that is what it was.

“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. “