Declaration – a letter of liberty

2020 marks the 700th anniversary of the Declaration of Arbroath, widely regarded as Scotlandโ€™s most iconic document; 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.

Written in 1320, its evocative sentiments about freedom and independence have given it special distinction, not just in Scotland, but around the world.

But the coronavirus has effectively cancelled all live celebrations of the event in Arbroath and across Scotland, and sadly no UK broadcasters have scheduled any significant TV coverage, though Billy Kay has produced a three-part series for Radio Scotland.

At the last minute, filmmaker Charlie Stuart and Lesley Riddoch decided to make a 30-minute video for web release, so the anniversary does not go completely unmarked.

DECLARATION, the letter of liberty 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, produced at speed, for this film.

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 and sent from his phone in deepest New York State.

The project was made possible by funding from lottery millionaire, Chris Weir. Scots-born, Oscar nominated film composer Patrick Doyle (below) has produced a fabulous original score, after hearing about the film in the Lesley Riddoch podcast.

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

Lesley 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. Weโ€™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.”

34 thoughts on “Declaration – a letter of liberty

  1. I look forward to it’s release tomorrow and will be sure to share it widely. I’ve no doubt it will be a wee film worth watching. Well done to those that made it possible.

  2. OK you changed the video while I typed my first post and I see it’s released now LOL

    I’ll settle down to watch it now. Cheers.

  3. Pingback: Declaration โ€“ a letter of liberty | speymouth

  4. Brilliant! ๐Ÿด๓ ง๓ ข๓ ณ๓ ฃ๓ ด๓ ฟ๐Ÿด๓ ง๓ ข๓ ณ๓ ฃ๓ ด๓ ฟ๐Ÿด๓ ง๓ ข๓ ณ๓ ฃ๓ ด๓ ฟ๐Ÿด๓ ง๓ ข๓ ณ๓ ฃ๓ ด๓ ฟ๐Ÿด๓ ง๓ ข๓ ณ๓ ฃ๓ ด๓ ฟ๐Ÿด๓ ง๓ ข๓ ณ๓ ฃ๓ ด๓ ฟ๐Ÿด๓ ง๓ ข๓ ณ๓ ฃ๓ ด๓ ฟ๐Ÿด๓ ง๓ ข๓ ณ๓ ฃ๓ ด๓ ฟ๐Ÿด๓ ง๓ ข๓ ณ๓ ฃ๓ ด๓ ฟ๐Ÿด๓ ง๓ ข๓ ณ๓ ฃ๓ ด๓ ฟ๐Ÿด๓ ง๓ ข๓ ณ๓ ฃ๓ ด๓ ฟ

  5. How can anyone watch that and not be emotional. What a powerful piece of work. Congratulations but above all, thank you to all involved.

    • The music makes this.
      A powerful and beautifully told story.
      It is becoming clear that the creative arts will play a significant part in the next chapter of Scotland’s history.
      People need inspiration.
      This film certainly inspires.
      Well done, everyone involved.

  6. Wonderful, really nicely done, congrats to all involved, thank you. I have a copy of Andrew Redmond Barr’s lovely recent illustrated book, all about the DoA, it’s one to treasure.

    Will watch this again later.

  7. Wonderful, very emotional and the music is so atmospheric. Well done, Lesley and Charlie and all involved.

  8. Just amazing. Interesting to note that the concept of People making/being a Nation is reflected in National Anthems. All except one of the national Anthems I’m aware of are about the Country or it’s People. No prize for guessing the odd one out!

  9. Excellent and yes a tear in the eye. Congratulations to those who made it. The breadth of our movement will ensure that we succeed. Only my mortality could ever end my personal commitment to Scotland’s independence.

  10. Superb. To all concerned, professionals and amateurs alike, very well done. Thank you. Now, how can we get it broadcast?

  11. Totally inspirational. Thanks to all who were involved in its production and to the people involved in making the beautiful tapestry.

    Makes up to some extent for missing out on what would have been a fantastic day. Lucky white Heather, eh?!

    What about celebrating the 701st anniversary next year?

  12. absolutely 1st Class ….. REALLY enjoyed watching that …. and well done to all involved in the production of this Gem.

  13. Pingback: Declaration โ€“ a letter of liberty โ€” Wee Ginger Dug | Documentary Short Film Festival

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