Arbroath Abbey looms rather eerily above the Arbroath skyline, even in the light of day. Perhaps this is because the building and grounds ooze drama and history in the lives of Scots and Englishmen alike. Founded in 1178 by English king William the Lion, it was erected in memory of martyred Archbishop of Canterbury Thomas a Becket. An interesting timeline of events published by the BBC in an article about the Abbey indicate incredible events taking place within it's walls:
1178 - Arbroath Abbey founded by King William the Lion of Scotland.
1272 - A storm hit the abbey leading to the bells partially melting. In the same year famine hit the country.
1320 - The Declaration of Arbroath was written.
1350 - The abbey faced assaults from English sea-raiders.
1380 - A great fire known as 'The Devil's Fire' damaged the abbey.
1446 - A battle for the right to be the judge of the abbey's court was fought outside the abbey gates between those loyal to the Ogilvy and Crawford families. Six hundred were killed in the battle.
1561 - The abbey falls into decline after The Reformation of 1560.
1815 - The first steps to preserve the abbey are taken with an application for funding to the exchequer.
1924 - Proper steps are taken to preserve the abbey as the state takes ownership.
2008 - The public campaign begins to have the abbey recognised as a World Heritage site.
Fortunately for us, it is being responsibly cared for and preserved, and a fascinating visitor's centre helps interpret events and their influences on us even today. This ivy-covered archway leading to an ages-old burying ground within Abbey walls is what I chose to paint to represent this important place in Scottish history.