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Arbroath plan to surpass past glories in pageant recreation for 2020 Declaration anniversary

A previous pageant recreation at Arbroath Abbey
A previous pageant recreation at Arbroath Abbey

Arbroath 2020 organisers aim to go back to the future with the creation of an inspiring town pageant to mark the milestone event in the history of the town.

As work continues to mark the 700th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Arbroath next April, the group leading the plans say they hope to deliver a pageant on a scale beyond that of events which were previously a major tourist draw in the town.

“The style of pageant has declined, with just a few now taking part,” said a spokesman.

“On April 5 2020, the committee would like to see a procession through Arbroath High Street to the harbour with the scale and enthusiasm there once was.

“A particular emphasis is to be placed on bringing young people to the fore.”

The 2020 group aims to commission professionals to choreograph and produce the pageant, but has made a call to community groups to get involved to ensure its success.

In 2008, Miss Scotland Nieve Jennings joined Richard Irvine of the Abbey Pageant Society as part of Scotland’s Tartan Day celebrations

“A pageant for our time is what we need and this is one that brings people together,” the spokesman added.

Led by horses down the High Street, the intention is to have community groups ahead of each section of the pageant, the origins of which lie in the late 1940s when it was first staged as a fundraiser for the YMCA.

Angus Back in the Day, old Arbroath photo – pageant commemorating the signing of the Declaration of Arbroath, at Arbroath Abbey, dated August 1966.

Fundraising is also continuing by the group involved in creating the Arbroath tapestry, composed by Great Tapestry of Scotland designer Andrew Crummy.

An auction of promises on May 31 at St Thomas church hall will include the opportunity to bid for Arbroath Oslin apple trees, a pippin variety thought to date back to the 17th century having been probably brought from France by the monks of Arbroath Abbey.

The tapestry will feature a main panel around a metre tall depicting Pope John XXII who received the Declaration at the Papal court in Avignon, and two smaller side panels.

Monks, nobles and ordinary people are also to be woven into the work, along with text from the document and seals of those who signed the declaration.

A public meeting to continue the planning for the 2020 programme will also take place on June 13 at St Thomas Church.

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