A NEW film celebrating the 700th anniversary of Scotland’s most important historic document, the Declaration of Arbroath, is going online today.

National columnist Lesley Riddoch and filmmaker Charlie Stuart have teamed up “at the last minute”, as she said, to produce Declaration, the letter of liberty.

Riddoch says the letter from Scotland to Pope John XXII was “probably the first declaration in medieval Europe to promote the idea that people are above kings, that a nation is its people and that any nation has the right to self-determination”.

The coronavirus has effectively cancelled all the planned live celebrations of the event in Arbroath and across Scotland, and sadly the political climate appears to have prevented UK broadcasters from scheduling any significant TV coverage.

Riddoch and director and editor Stuart decided to make a 30-minute video for web release, so the anniversary does not go completely unmarked.

The film includes interviews with historians Fiona Watson, Tom Turpie and Billy Kay who discuss the significance of the document and the meaning of the text. There’s atmospheric filming around Arbroath, in Edinburgh and in Bannockburn House, with glimpses of the surviving medieval document in the National Library and a convincing replica.

READ MORE: Oscar-nominated composer to score Declaration of Arbroath film

According to the producers, the public contributed lines from the Declaration recorded on phones and sent to a Facebook page – the most famous contributor is award-winning actor Brian Cox, whose lines where sent from his phone in deepest New York State.

Scots-born Oscar-nominated film composer Patrick Doyle produced an original score after hearing about the project last week in a podcast. The project was made possible by funding from lottery millionaire, Chris Weir.

The film is not associated with or endorsed by any political party. According to Charlie Stuart: “We’re making this as Scots who treasure our heritage, history and character and will not let this important moment go unrecognised.”

READ MORE: Wee Ginger Dug to recite Declaration of Arbroath on 700th anniversary

Riddoch said: “We’ve had the most extraordinary luck with historians and authors who dropped everything two weeks ago to get filming finished before the coronavirus lockdown.

“We’re also grateful to Historic Environment Scotland and staff at Arboath Abbey itself for access as they were closing the venue.

“Since then Charlie and I have worked together remotely, along with composer Patrick Doyle. We were absolutely astonished and so grateful for his unexpected offer to produce an original score for the film.

“Now we need everyone’s help to distribute Declaration, when it’s launched on Saturday morning – the day that should have been marked by an official parade and march through Arbroath. We have no broadcaster behind us, so we urge Scots to share widely and make sure the Declaration has a virtual 700th anniversary to remember.”

The film, Declaration, the letter of liberty, will be available on social media, on lesleyriddoch.com and via this link which will be live from 9am today: vimeo.com/401599947

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