THE Declaration of Arbroath will go on display for the first time in 18 years on Saturday.

The 700-year-old document will be part of a free exhibition which will run from June 3 to July 2 at the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh.

The fragile artefact, which was penned in 1320, can only be displayed occasionally in order to ensure its long-term preservation. It was last exhibited at the Scottish parliament in 2005.

A display of the declaration was first planned for April 2020, to coincide with its 700th anniversary. However, the Covid pandemic forced delays.

READ MORE: Why a 700-year-old letter to a pope is key to Scotland’s story

Organisers said that the new date was chosen to give “as many people as possible the rare chance to see one of Scotland’s most important historical documents”.

The Declaration of Arbroath was a letter written to the pope in 1320 asking him to recognise Scotland as an independent nation with Robert the Bruce as its king.

Its most famous lines read: "As long as a hundred of us remain alive, never will we on any conditions be subjected to the lordship of the English.

“It is in truth not for glory, nor riches, nor honours that we are fighting, but for freedom alone, which no honest man gives up but with life itself.”

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In 2016, the declaration was added to the UNESCO “Memory of the World” register. The National Records of Scotland (NRS) preserves the document as part of the national collections.

The surviving declaration is a medieval copy of the letter, the original having been dispatched to the pope in Avignon.

NRS head of medieval records Dr Alan Borthwick said: "The Declaration of Arbroath is a key document from the formative period of the Kingdom of Scotland.

"The parchment itself is highly impressive but it’s the stirring language and evocative sentiments contained in the text that have given the Declaration of Arbroath its special distinction, in Scotland and around the world."

The Declaration of Arbroath will be on display at Exhibition Gallery 2 in the National Museum of Scotland from Saturday June 3 until Sunday July 2.