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“Amazing History”
Review of Arbroath Abbey

Arbroath Abbey
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$41.77*
and up
Historic Scotland Explorer Pass
Ranked #1 of 29 things to do in Arbroath
Certificate of Excellence
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Attraction details
Owner description: Arbroath Abbey is a testament to the dynamic piety of Scotland’s medieval monarchs. It was founded in 1178 by King William I ‘the Lion’ as a memorial to his childhood friend Thomas Becket, Archbishop of Canterbury, who was murdered in 1170.
Reviewed August 21, 2012

This place is amazing from history to architecture that is still left. Then walk thru the old cemetery and see the past come to life right in front of your eyes. It is a must see for all.

Thank JacquelineW15
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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246 - 250 of 306 reviews

Reviewed August 17, 2012

My family & I spent a lovely afternoon there last week - there was so much do, especially if you have children - plus they cater for the disabled. My mother would never have been able to see it if it weren't for the marvellous staff and the use of the onsight wheelchair. The grounds are fascinating and amazingly Arbraoth town has grown up round about it - imagine having an abbey for a neighbour. it was interesting to see a replica of William I tombstone & the copy of the Declaration of Arbroath was very realistic

Thank dinky0502
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed August 13, 2012

I've passed through Arbroath more times than I can remember and have intended to visit the Abbey for years. Finally managed it. With an interest in Scottish history, I know that the Declaration of Arbroath was signed here, declaring Scottish independence “ for, as long as but a hundred of us remain alive, never will we on any conditions be brought under English rule. It is in truth not for glory, nor riches, nor honours that we are fighting, but for freedom -- for that alone, which no honest man gives up but with life itself.” Great and stirring stuff. Before going in tot he Abbey itself, we were advised by the very helpful and pleasant girl on the front desk to look the displays in the visitor centre. We did, but some need to be rethought. In a video detailing the timeline of history as it relates (I think) to Arbroath Abbey and the Declaration, mention is made of the Battle of Dunnichen Moss, then immediately afterward that the Scots were now united under Kenneth Mac Alpin. The Battle of Dunnichen Moss united the tribes of what is now Scotland under Nechtan (the area is now called Nechtansmere (Nechtan's Mire) in his honour and a standing stone commemorates the event). It's correctly pointed out that this battle drove the invading Northumbrians back to the River Tweed and the importance of this event is not only that the tribes of Scotland united under one king, but also that the border between Northumbria (and later England) was established and remains in place to this day. It's not clearly pointed out that Nechtan was a Pictish, not a Scottish, king. Kenneth Mac Alpin was a Scot and assumed kingship in around 836 when his father's army defeated the Picts (at Inverness I think). The importance of this being that at this time the Scots became the dominant cultural force in what is now Scotland, making kenneth first King of Scots. Picky maybe, but the impression is that Scotland was Scotland immediately after Dunnichen Moss and that Kenneth Mac Alpin became king at that time, which is wrong. Also, the display goes on to make some point about the murder of Thomas Beckett by Henry II, and illustrates Henry by using the king from the Lewis chessmen – a Viking hoard discovered on the Isle of Lewis in the Western Isles. It looks the part, but to anyone with the merest smattering of Scottish history it's use seems fairly inappropriate (Viking object found in Scotland representing an English king), especially given that there are contemporary images of Henry II available such as the one in the National Portrait Gallery.
All this may seem petty, but if time and money is to be spent on these displays, some effort should be put into ensuring their accuracy and relevance, other all other information presented is rendered questionable.
Upstairs there is a decent scale model of the Abbey indicating the main areas. The building itself is a ruin and requires some imagination to capture the stunning impact and opulence it must have had in it's day. Still, standing at the end of the knave, it is possible sense some of it. We walked up the knave, visited the sacristy, then through the cloisters to the abbott's house and up the stairs to balcony looking down the knave. It was from the balcony that we got the most sense of how it may have looked, but remember it's a ruin and has been extensively quarried for cut stone. One thing I would say it's try to get some time in the sacristy alone and make some noise – the acoustics are incredible

1  Thank kiltedladdie
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed August 12, 2012

Spent a lovely Sunday morning wondering the site were the staff were helpful and informative. Information centre attached to the historic site a great history lesson but also entertaining.

Thank Brenda C
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed July 31, 2012

The visitor's centre here has been so improved in recent years that the abbey really now is an absolute must-see for anyone with any kind of intereset in Scots history (or US history: don't forget - the American Declaration of Independence is modelled on the Declaration of Arbroath)

Thank Equanimity
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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