Arbroath is an ancient port with origins dating back to Pictish times. With a population of 25,000, Arbroath is the largest Angus town, and home of the famous Abbey, which was founded in 1178. It was at the Abbey in 1320 that the famous Declaration of Scottish Independence was signed, outlining the desire of the Scottish people for self-determination.
Bernard de Linton, drafted the Letter of Arbroath, thought by many to be the most important document in Scottish history. This was a letter written to Pope John XXII on behalf of Robert the Bruce, and signed by most of the great and good of 14th Century Scotland.
It asked the Pope to put pressure on Edward II of England to recognise Robert as the legitimate King of Scotland. It also asked him to remove the excommunication that had been placed on Robert after he had murdered the Red Comyn in a Dumfries church in 1306.
From such auspicious beginnings, the growth of Arbroath continued over the years, but the real boom time came as the flax and engineering industries began to expand, leading to an ever-increasing population.
If Arbroath's early growth depended heavily on Arbroath Abbey, the last few centuries have seen it look to the sea for its prosperity. And not just to fishing, though this has been, and continues to be, important to the town.
Still a working port, Arbroath's harbour remains an attractive focal point for the town.
The 1394 harbour was built at the interestingly named Danger Point, and remained in operation until destroyed in a gale in 1706. Its 1734 replacement was expanded in 1842, and again in 1877. Arbroath in its time has been an important trading port with destinations in Scandinavia, and as far afield as North America.
Near the harbour is the Arbroath Signal Tower Museum. This was built in 1813 as the shore station for the Bell Rock Lighthouse, and was erected by Robert Stevenson in the years up to 1811, to warn mariners of notorious rocks 12 miles south east of Arbroath. This was the first time anyone had ever built a lighthouse on a rock that was submerged every high tide, and the construction of the 115ft high structure marked the pinnacle of the lighthouse-building achievements of the Stevenson family.
At the harbour, the mouth-watering scent of that famous Arbroath delicacy, 'the Smokie', wafts from the surrounding smokehouses.
Today, industry continues to play an important part in the economy of the town, with a variety of activities ranging from fish food processing to engineering and textiles. Arbroath also has a long-established reputation as a holiday resort, with fine sands, leisure facilities and the annual Sea Fest - a 3-day celebration of the town's maritime heritage.
Just outside Arbroath is the busy village of Friockheim, and the 18th Century House of Pitmuies with its beautiful gardens.
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