LISTENING to the unmistakeably familiar tones of writer and broadcaster Billy Kay, you can’t help detecting that he is more than usually enthusiastic about his new three part series on the Declaration of Arbroath.

Titled simply The Declaration, the series will air on BBC Radio Scotland from Monday, April 6 – the actual date of the 700th anniversary of the Declaration – to Wednesday, April 8 at 1.32pm each day, and for one month on BBC Sounds.

It has been a labour of love for Ayrshire-born Kay, 68, who explained: “It was something I have always wanted to do and I am just chuffed that I got in there before anyone else had the idea to do it.

“I felt the subject was made for me, as I was a cultural nationalist long before I was a political nationalist, and the Declaration has cultural resonance around the world.”

READ MORE: Billy Kay tells the story of Declaration of Arbroath on anniversary

Kay consulted many experts for the series and unearthed some surprising tales.

He said: “Historian Rebecca Wills tells us an amazing story about hiking with her family in the Caucasus Mountains. She was passing a Georgian border post when a guard shouted in Russian ‘where are you from’ and when she said ‘Scotland’ they were invited to come over for lunch. To Becky’s total astonishment one of the guards launched into the famous ‘one hundred of us’ passage in Russian.

“In return, Becky and her boy sang Flower of Scotland for the guards and everyone was in tears.”

READ MORE: ‘It’s powerful, beautiful, heartfelt’: Stars contribute to Arbroath project

One of the issues that will be aired will be the argument over whether the Declaration of Arbroath influenced the American Declaration of Independence. Kay produces the “circumstantial evidence” that it did.

Kay explains: “James Boswell quoted from it in his writing about the Corsican freedom fighter, Pasquale Paoli – a book which enjoyed great acclaim in the colonies before the American War of Independence. Boswell was fascinated by the Declaration.

“In the university library in Leipzig during the Grand Tour, he came across a copy of the Declaration and regales astonished scholars: ‘They were struck with the noble sentiments, at the liberty of the old Scots and they expressed their regret at the shameful Union. I felt too, patriot sorrow – o infamous rascals who sold the honour of your country to a nation against which our ancestors supported themselves with so much glory! But I say no more but only, alas, poor Scotland!’”

Kay commented: “This is surprising, as Boswell is often regarded as an arch Unionist and Anglophile in 18th century Scotland.”

He promises other surprises in the series, teasing: “What is the tie that links Hugh MacDiarmid, the Declaration of Arbroath and the African American leader Malcolm X? Tune in to programme three, The Abbey of Arbroath, to find out.”

Brian Cox will read passages from the Declaration. Kay met the actor in Club 83 in Dundee, the Dundee United supporters club, at a pro-independence rally in 2014.

“We kept in touch,” said Kay, “and he was delighted to be asked to do the readings.”

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