The New Scriptorium stands in the grounds of Arbroath Abbey, ready to welcome visitors for a programme of public events over the summer months.
It arrived there only a few weeks ago, and was created by artist Bobby Niven.
Bobby is a founder of the Bothy Project, which designs these bespoke, small-scale creative structures for sites across Scotland.
Homage to history
Commissioned by the Arbroath 2020+1 group as part of the 700th anniversary celebrations of the Declaration of Arbroath, the design has been influenced by the town’s historic red sandstone abbey and the medieval illuminated manuscripts it would once have housed.
Founded in 1178, Arbroath Abbey would have had a scriptorium, where inhabitants of the monastery studied and copied manuscripts.
Now the new studio space will revive the significance of literacy and learning as well as connecting the community to the abbey.
Bobby designed the New Scriptorium keeping in mind the history and skills of the medieval period along with the decoration of the time.
It was built with a green oak frame by local carpenters, has a concrete-clad exterior and a stunning interior in which colour, light and texture are influenced by the content of beautiful handmade medieval manuscripts.
Access to the abbey itself is currently restricted while Historic Environment Scotland undertakes high level masonry inspections, but the visitor centre and grounds remain open.
A new work by artist Katie Guthrie has been created with pupils from Arbroath Academy to line the way to the scriptorium building. It tells a pictorial story of the abbey.
First public programme
The first public programme is part of Scotland’s Year of Stories, hosting local literary groups, including Angus Writers’ Circle, as well as visiting writers in residence.
Director of Hospitalfield and member of the Arbroath 2020+1 committee, Lucy Byatt, says: “Arbroath Abbey is absolutely the heart of the town and one of the most important assets of Angus and the east coast of Scotland.
“It’s a fantastic visitor destination for people all over the world, but it’s also got to be a place that’s frequented and is a popular location for local people, because it is rooted to the town.
“The New Scriptorium is a lovely building and a really important architectural gem. If you go and visit the abbey you can see it.
“But, of course, it’s at its best when there are people using it for their projects and this begins in mid-July with the Angus writers.”
Access to the Scriptorium is free for education groups and individuals affiliated with Hospitalfield.
Writers and artists
On other days, admission to the abbey costs £4.75 with a range of concessions available.
Angus Writers’ Circle will have a residency in the Scriptorium from July 14 – August 14 and there will be public drop-in writing workshops on July 20, July 27, August 3 and August 10 between 1.30–4pm.
On August 11, artist Rachel Pim will host a workshop between 3–5pm. Moving on to September, Christie Dooley and Áine Rowe will be writers in residence between September 21 – 24 and they will hold a workshop on September 24 between 2–4pm.
More events will follow in October with another programme planned for 2023.