Arbroath - 'The Prospect of ye Abby of Aberbrothick'

Repeated fires and an attack from English forces were among the reasons why Arbroath Abbey wasn't really completed - or at least not for long.

From its beginnings in the 12th century, it was dogged with problems, but its place in history is secured by its use as the origin of the 'Letter (or 'Declaration') of Arbroath'. This document declaring Scottish independence from rule by the English is regarded by some as the most important in Scotland's history.

During the 1600s, the abbey fell into its final decline, and was a ruin by the time of Slezer's visit.

It looks here as though there's a card game going on top of one of the gravestones in the foreground! Slezer's title for this prospect uses the Gaelic version of 'Arbroath'.

Image from Theatrum Scotiae by John Slezer, 1693.

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  Read what Robert Sibbald wrote in Theatrum Scotiae about Arbroath


To the Right Honourable Charles Earl of Southesk, Lord Carnegie of Kinnaird and Leachers, &c.


Aberbrothock or Arbroth is a Town in Angus, so called from Aber, which in our Ancient Language signifies a Side or Bank, and Brothock the Name of a Water which runs by it. It lies on the Sea-side near the Promontory, called Rid-Head, and has a Harbour for Ships.

Here was one of the Richest Monasteries of this Nation, founded by King Willian of Scotland, about 1170, in Honour of Thomas Becket Archbishop of Canterbury, with whom he was intimately acquainted. It had several considerable Donations from Gillchrist Earl of Angus, and his Son Gillbred. It was possess'd by the Monks of St. Bennet. To the Inhabitants of which Town, for the Monastery's Sake, at the Request of the said King William, King John of England granted the same. Privileges and Liberties through all the Kingdom of England (except London) which the Natives did enjoy. The Patent is yet to be seen among the Records of Arbroth.

Who was Robert Sibbald?

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