In 2020 Scotland will celebrate the 700th anniversary of the Declaration of Arbroath, one of the most significant artefacts in our nation’s history.
“It is in truth not for glory, nor riches, nor honours that we are fighting, but for freedom – for that alone, which no honest man gives up but with life itself.”
The Declaration of Arbroath, also known as the Declaration of Scottish Independence, was a diplomatic letter from the Scots to the Pope in 1320, calling for Scotland to be recognised as an independent kingdom against English claims of overlordship. It is thought to be one of the earliest written arguments for popular sovereignty and one of the most significant statements of nationhood in Europe.
The Declaration is one of the primary foundation stones of Scottish identity, but its influence is international – the text is believed, for example, to be one of the inspirations behind America’s own Declaration of Independence. In 2016 the Declaration was also awarded ‘Memory of the World’ status by UNESCO World Heritage.
The Illustrated Declaration of Arbroath will offer a unique, artistic and visually striking interpretation of this 700-year-old artefact in a way which is fit for the 21st century. It will bring the artefact to life, highlighting its cultural significance as well as its contemporary relevance. It will examine ideas of community and people-power, and ask what ‘freedom’ means in today’s world.
The book will be published by the Saltire Society, one of Scotland’s leading cultural bodies. The finished product will be a well-designed hardback book mixing text and illustrations.
The intention of the project is to establish a broader understanding of the Declaration of Arbroath outside of academia. The book and corresponding artwork will expose aspects of Scottish history which I hope people will find new and interesting. This project has an educational and awareness-raising element rather than being solely artistic. It will demonstrate how the early ideas and principals of the Declaration shaped Scotland, and why it still matters in the modern world.
About the Artist
My name is Andrew Redmond Barr and I’m a writer and illustrator with an interest in Scottish history and literature. I have experience in producing books, promoting Scottish culture and creating illustrated exhibitions.
- In 2011 I was one of the co-founders of the arts campaign National Collective.
- In 2016 I released my first book, Summer of Independence: Stories from a Nation in the Making (Word Power Books), a grassroots account of the 2014 independence referendum which featured in The Scottish Review of Books’ Picks of 2016.
- In 2018 I held a solo art exhibition, ‘Pith & Power’, at the Saltire Society in Edinburgh exploring Robert Burns’ relationship with politics and power.
“The writer has a keen sense of power dynamics, history and literature, but more importantly he has imagination and talent. We can have faith in Scotland’s future with young writers like this.” – Meaghan Delahunt