EXTRA cash is being invested in Arbroath Abbey in the run up to the 700th anniversary of the signing of Scotland’s legendary declaration of sovereignty.

Historic Environment Scotland (HES) is providing £300,000 to help improve the experience of visitors to the site. It will contribute to a new exhibition, which will open 700 years on from the signing of the historical document.

The Declaration of Arbroath was sent to Pope John XXII on April 6, 1320, with dozens of earls and barons from Scotland asking him to recognise the country’s independence.

A copy of the document, which is said to be almost indistinguishable from the surviving letter, will go on show as part of the new exhibition.

Also on display will be a new tapestry which was hand-stitched by locals and designed by Andrew Crummy, the man behind the Great Tapestry of Scotland.

Culture Secretary Fiona Hyslop said: “I welcome this investment from Historic Environment Scotland, which will help to enhance visitors’ understanding of Arbroath Abbey and, in particular, the Declaration of Arbroath as we celebrate its 700th anniversary. This visitor centre will be yet another reason to visit Angus and Arbroath, not least to see the new Arbroath Tapestry and to appreciate the craft of Andrew Crummy and local embroiderers in bringing it to fruition.”

As part of the anniversary celebrations, entrance to the Abbey and exhibition will be free on Monday, April 6.

HES chief executive Alex Paterson commented: “We are delighted to be providing this new investment in the Arbroath Abbey visitor experience as part of the wider commemorations for the 700th year anniversary of the Declaration of Arbroath. The anniversary is a reminder of the important role Arbroath Abbey played in shaping Scotland’s history – and this creative exhibition offers new ways for visitors to engage with the Abbey’s story.”

Paul Lowe, chief executive of National Records of Scotland, added: “As the custodians of this iconic document we recognise its particular significance to Arbroath.

“We are thrilled to gift this unique facsimile of the Declaration to the Abbey, as part of the 700th anniversary celebrations. We hope it will continue to inspire visitors from around the world as well as the people of Arbroath, providing fresh insights into this fascinating period in our history.”