Pageant of the Declaration of Independence, Arbroath 1949

Other names

  • The 1949 Historical Pageant of the Scottish Declaration of Independence
  • The 1949 Historical Pageant within the Abbey of Arbroath
  • 1949 Arbroath Abbey Pageant

Pageant type


The first Arbroath pageant in 1947 had been a civic initiative but in the months following a pageant society had been formed with a view to making the pageant an annual event; this organisation was called the Arbroath Abbey Pageant Society. In 1948, the pageant was run under the auspices of this society. However, it should be noted that although the organisation was formally independent of the council, as part of its statute, some members of the town council were elected to membership of the Society's committee.

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Place: Arbroath Abbey (Arbroath) (Arbroath, Angus, Scotland)

Year: 1949

Indoors/outdoors: Outdoors

Number of performances: 3


18–20 August 1949

Thursday 18 August and Friday 19 August 1949 at 6.30pm and Saturday 20 August 1949 at 2.30pm.

There was a full dress rehearsal on the evening of Wednesday 17 August 1949, to which children were admitted.1 The performance began at 6.30 pm and tickets were priced at 1s.2

Name of pageant master and other named staff

  • Pageant Producer [Pageant Master]: Thornton, F.W.A.
  • Pageant Producer [Pageant Master]: Shepherd, George S.
  • Technical Adviser and Sound Engineer: David Niven
  • Ass. Technical Adviser and Sound Engineer: Frank S. Kydd
  • Art Director: William Reid
  • Wardrobe Mistress: Jean Shaw
  • Choirmaster: Andrew Morrison
  • Organist: Miss Molly Robb3


The two Pageant Producers were well known locals. Both were members of the Arbroath Dramatic Club. Thornton was also a local councillor. As well as organising the pageant, Shepherd had played Abbot Bernard de Linton, in every performance of the pageant since 1947. The two also sat on the Executive Committee. In 1947 and 1948, Shepherd had acted as assistant producer, but in 1949, he and Thornton were given equal status and both acted as co-producers of the pageant.

Names of executive committee or equivalent

Arbroath Abbey Pageant Society:

  • Honorary Presidents: The Rt. Hon. The Earl of Airlie, KT, GCVO; The Provost of Arbroath
  • Honorary Vice-Presidents: Sir William Chapel; Hon. John S. McLay, CMG, MP; Dr Agnes Mure Mackenzie, OBE; Dr J.B. Salmond; Miss Louisa Macdonald; Mr George Law; Mr E.J. Joss; The Hon. Mrs Lindsay Carnegie
  • Chairman: Mr A. Linton Robertson, MRCVS
  • Vice-Chairman: Mr Tom Matheson
  • Honorary Secretary: Lieut,Col. G.W. Dunn, DSO, MC, Brothock Bank
  • Honorary Treasurer: Mr Alex. Cargill, National Bank of Scotland


  • Convenor: Mr A. Linton Robertson, MRCVS
  • Vice-Convenor: Councillor F.W.A. Thornton
  • Other members: Mr W. Stark; Mr George S. Shepherd; Mr D.L. Gardiner; Mr T.M. Patterson; Miss M. Brodie; Provost Webster; Bailie McGlashan; Treasurer Mackintosh; Dean of Guild Mrs A.L. Matthew; Councillor Mrs Ross


The Arbroath Abbey Pageant Society had been formed following the success of the first pageant in 1947 with a view to making this an annual event.

Names of script-writer(s) and other credited author(s)

  • Milne, J. Crawford
  • Shepherd, George S.


The author of the Prologue, J. Crawford Milne, was a well-known local poet.7 The Pageant Producer, George S. Shepherd wrote the script for the second historical scene concerning the foundation of the abbey by William the Lion; he also produced this scene and was the commentator when it was performed, providing voiceover narration.8

Names of composers

  • Irvine, Jessie Seymour

The tune 'Crimond' is attributed to Jessie Seymour Irvine; the 23rd Psalm was sung to this tune during the pageant introduction.

Numbers of performers


More than 200 men, women and children took part in the pageant. Given the nature of the drama, it seems likely that the majority of the players were male. A large number of horses featured.

Financial information

  • Sale of tickets: £657. 19s.
  • Collection made during procession: £58. 15s. 3d.

Surplus: £54.9

Object of any funds raised

The Arbroath Abbey Pageant Society


Money was also raised to fund the pageant by a number of means, including 'a cafe, chantant [sic] and bring and buy sale...organised by women's organisations' in Arbroath.10

The value of costumes owned by the pageant committee after the 1949 pageant was estimated at £471.11 However, some costumes were borrowed from the Kate Kennedy Society at St Andrews University, with which the Arbroath Pageant had entered into a reciprocal arrangement, Arbroath lending St Andrews their costumes for use in the Annual Kate Kennedy parade that had taken place earlier that year in June.12

Linked occasion


Audience information

  • Grandstand: Yes
  • Grandstand capacity: 500
  • Total audience: n/a


Numerous local newspaper reports attest that the pageant was sold out. The pageant took place in the ruins of the Abbey. This being the case, the space available for a grandstand may have been constricted; at any rate the stand provided was quite small and held around 500 people. It is likely that most tickets were standing only.

Prices of admission and seats: highest–lowest


  • Grandstand: 5s.
  • Area B: 3s. 6d.
  • Area C: 2s. 6d.
  • Standing Area: 1s. (2s. for Saturday performance).14

Associated events

There was a week-long programme of events as follows:
  • Monday 15 August: Scottish Country dance, in the Drill Hall, Marketgate, 'under the auspices of Angus Branch of the Scottish Country Dance Association.'
Tuesday 16 August
  • 'A Pageant of Youth Presented by Arbroath District Youth panel... in the Drill Hall, Marketgate at 7.30 pm'. This included displays of, 'Training, Physical Culture and Dancing' by 'Boy Scouts, the Wolf Cubs, Girl Guides, Brownies, Boys' Brigade, Lifeboys, Army Cadet Force, Girls Training Corps, YMCA, Co-operative Youth Club and Arbroath Aero Club, Sea Cadets concluding with Sunset Ceremony.'
Friday 19 August

  • Grand Social and Dance in the Drill Hall, Marketgate. Organised by the Fit o' the Toon Social Committee. 
Saturday 20th August

  • 'Forenoon--The Fishing Fleet will put to sea with parties aboard.
  • 2.30pm--Final performance of the Abbey Pageant.
  • 4.30pm--The Grand Historical Procession...[see below].
  • 7.30pm--Social Evening with the Fishing Community in Drill Hall, Marketgate, including Traditional Fisher Wedding.
  • 11.30pm—Procession from the Drill Hall to the Abbey which will be floodlit. As midnight approaches a beacon will be lit at 'The Roond O' and the assembly will join in singing the 23rd Psalm.'

The Grand Historical Procession, which took place at 4.30pm, departed from Brechin Road and proceeded to the High Street where it was reviewed by the town's Provost and a party of other dignitaries. The parade included 'Boneshakers and Penny-Farthing Bicycles kindly lent by Mr P.H. Pert and Mr Jas. Clements, Arbroath and Messrs Duthie and Son, Montrose'. Following the review, the procession then followed a path through the town and ended at 'Guthrie Port'. Included, in the following order were:
  • The British Legion Pipe Band:
  • Robert the Bruce, King of Scotland
  • The Barons of the Realm of Scotland
  • Foot Soldiers
  • Cross Bearers
  • Acolytes
  • Bernard de Linton, Lord Abbot of Aberbrothock
  • Bishops of St Andrews, Dunkeld and Aberdeen
  • Canons
  • Bearer of the Banner of St Columba
  • Monks
  • St Ninian and Disciples
  • Early Pictish Converts
  • Druid
  • William the Lion and Queen Ermingarde
  • Pages
  • Ladies in Waiting
  • Noblemen
  • Abbot John of Aberbrothock
  • Bishops of Aberdeen and Brechin
  • A Prior
  • Monks
  • King Edward I of England
  • Sir William Wallace
  • Mary Queen of Scots at Arbroath Abbey (presented by British Red Cross Society)
  • The Four Maries (presented by the 'Housewives association')
  • Robert the Bruce granting the Charter to the City of Edinburgh (Arbroath Merchants' Assoc.)
  • Aberbrothock Pipe Band
  • Jenny Geddes (presented by Arbroath Branch British Legion Women's League)
  • Rob Roy (Boys' Brigade, No. 3 Coy)
  • Black Agnes 1345 (Housewives' Association)
  • Queen Victoria and Prince Albert (Miss Margaret Wilson and John Mackenzie)
  • Braemar Gathering (Innes Henderson and Co. Ltd.)
  • Boys' Brigade Pipe Band
  • Fishermen at Work (Arbroath Fishermen's Association)
  • Arbroath Smokie Industry (Arbroath Fish Merchants' Association)
  • Fisherwomen at Work (Arbroath Fisherwomen's Association)
  • Cottar's Saturday Night (Arbroath Branch, British Legion Women's League)
  • Fifty years' Progress (Arbroath Painters' Social Club)
  • Twenty-Five Years' Progress (Arbroath Painters' Social Club)
  • The Better 'Ole (Arbroath Branch, British Legion)
  • Fire Engine, 1861 (Arbroath Fire service)
  • Flora Macdonald (Arbroath Business and Professional Women's Club)
  • Arbroath Instrumental Band.
  • Ex-Deputy Chief Constable William Smith and W. Macdonald were marshals for the parade.
Sunday 21 August 

  • 'Pageant Thanksgiving Service within the Abbey at 3 O'clock afternoon. Conducted by Rev. F.W. Shaw, St John's Methodist Church. Scripture Reading by Rev. J. Moore, Original Secession Church. Address by Rev. W.E. Gladstone-Millar, MC, BD, St Margaret's Church. Praise led by the Hopemount Choir and Organ. There is Seating Accommodation for 1200. In the event of unfavourable weather the Service will be held in The Abbey Church.'

Pageant outline

Singing of the National Anthem


The pageant was introduced and chaired by different persons at each performance as follows:

  • Thursday 18 August: J.F. Webster Esq., Provost of Arbroath
  • Friday 19 August: Rear-Admiral (E) W.S. Jameson, CBE
  • Saturday 20 August: Brigadier James A. Oliver, CBE, DSO, TD, Deputy Lieutenant of the County of Angus


Different dignitaries gave the introductory address at each performance as follows:

  • Thursday 18 August: The Right Rev. Principal G.S. Duncan, Moderator of the Church of Scotland
  • Friday 19 August: Vice-Admiral A.E.M.B. Cunninghame Graham, CB, CBE, RN
  • Saturday 20 August: The Rt. Hon. The Earl of Elgin, KT, CMG, TD

Prayer of Dedication

This was delivered by the following:

  • Thursday 18 August: Rev. Dr J.T. Hornsby
  • Friday 19 August: Rev. John Henry Dutch
  • Saturday 20 August: Rev. Alec W. Abel


At each performance, between the Prayer of Dedication and the Dedication and Benediction, the 'assembly' were asked to sing 'Verses 1 and 5 of the 23rd Psalm to the tune of Crimond'.18

Dedication and Benediction

This was delivered by the following:

  • Thursday 18 August Rev. Colin T. Day
  • Friday 19 August: Rev. Charles A. Gibson
  • Saturday 20 August: Rev. Harry L. Bruce.


This was delivered by J.B. Crockatt;, no details of its content have been recovered.

Historical Scene I. St Ninian: The Dawn of Christianity in Angus[c. Early 5th Century].

There were four named characters in this scene: Saint Ninian (played by J.V. Rust); a Druid (John Eddie); a Pictish Chieftain (David Goodwillie), and his wife (Ruby Melvin). Other parts were: ' missionaries, armed retainers, women and children.' John Mackenzie provided commentary for this drama.19

Historical Scene II. William the Lion: the Founding of Arbroath Abbey [12th century]

In addition to King William (played by L. Rae Forrester) other named characters in this scene were Queen Ermengarde (played by Lillian Clark), Abbot John (William Hutchison), the Bishop of Aberdeen (A.B. Mitchell), the Bishop of Brechin (Bert Alexander) and a Prior (A.F. Gunn). Other parts included Barons, Pages and Ladies in Waiting. The scene depicts the arrival of the King and Queen at the Abbey where they present a Royal Charter; the King also grants to the Abbey 'custody of the sacred Brecbennoch, the Reliquary of St Columba.'20 The Pageant Producer, George S. Shepherd, wrote the scene and provided the commentary on it during its performance.

Historical Scene III. Sir William Wallace: Freedom's Martyr [1305]

This scene depicts Wallace (played by Ian Spalding) in chains and on his way to his execution. Edward I (Edward Joss) and his courtiers precede Wallace; also in the scene were the Lord Mayor of London and Wallace's guards. Commentary was delivered by J.B. Crockatt.21

The Signing of the Declaration of Scottish Independence [1320].

This was the 'main scene' in the pageant. It begins with a 'cross-bearer' (played by Ian Spalding) making his way from the tower of the Abbey. A number of Acolytes follow this figure, and then a procession of figures appears, including Bernard, the Abbot of Aberbrothock (played by George S. Shepherd). A company of Bishops succeed him: the Bishop of St Andrews (Tom Matheson), the Bishop of Dunkeld (D.L. Gardiner), the Bishop of Aberdeen (Alexander Cargill) and 'the Bearer of the Banner of St Columba' (Douglas B. Lowe). A choir of monks (Arbroath Male Voice Choir) and 'doorkeepers' are at the rear of the Abbot's procession.

The procession makes its way to the high altar where all kneel to receive a blessing. A knocking at the door interrupts this ceremony. The Abbot and Bishops hurry to open it and King Robert the Bruce (played by A. Linton Robertson) appears on horseback; he dismounts and kneels to receive a blessing from the Abbot. The two then make their way back up the aisle together followed by the King's retinue in which are Lord Douglas (S.E.S. Burnett) and Lord Randolph (Walter Burnett) and many other unnamed Scottish Barons. At the altar, all kneel to receive a benediction from the Abbot. The declaration is spread ready on a table in front of the altar and 'one by one the nobles sign' after which each bows to the King. The Bishops then add their signatures, and lastly, the Abbot signs the document. At the end of this ceremony the Declaration is carried to the King and receives his seal. The King and his entourage depart the Abbey with all others making their way to the cloisters.

Commentary for this episode was given by F.W.A. Thornton.22


Following the performance on Saturday 20 August, there was also an 'Epilogue' delivered by the well-known historian and author, Dr Agnes Mure Mackenzie, CBE, MA, DLitt.

Key historical figures mentioned

  • Ninian [St Ninian] (supp. fl. 5th–6th cent.) missionary and bishop
  • William I [known as William the Lion] (c.1142–1214) king of Scots
  • Ermengarde [Ermengarde de Beaumont] (d. 1233) queen of Scots, consort of William I
  • Wallace, Sir William (d. 1305) patriot and guardian of Scotland
  • Robert I [Robert Bruce] (1274–1329) king of Scots
  • Bernard (d. 1330/31) administrator and bishop of Sodor
  • Douglas, Sir James [called the Black Douglas] (d. 1330) soldier
  • Randolph, Thomas, first earl of Moray (d. 1332) soldier and guardian of Scotland Edward I (1239–1307) king of England and lord of Ireland, and duke of Aquitaine

Musical production

Arbroath Male Voice Choir performed.
Arbroath Instrumental Band, Aberbrothock Pipe Band and the British Legion Pipe band all played in the closing procession which followed the final performance of the pageant.
There was organ music but it is unclear if this was recorded or relayed live from a nearby church as it had been in 1948. Pieces included:
  • ‘The National Anthem’ (opened the pageant).
  • 23rd Psalm, ‘The Lord is My Shepherd’ (pageant introduction).
  • ‘Ave Verum’, specific arrangement used unknown (main scene depicting signing of the declaration).

Newspaper coverage of pageant

Arbroath Herald
Dundee Courier
Glasgow Herald

Book of words


A Book of Words was not produced.

Other primary published materials

  • Arbroath Abbey Pageant Society, Pageant of the Declaration of Independence Souvenir Programme 1/-, Arbroath,1949.
  • Arbroath Abbey Pageant Society Presents the 1949 Historical Pageant of the Scottish Declaration of Independence, August 18-19-20, 1949. Publicity pamphlet.
  • ‘Arbroath Abbey Pageant Society: Pageant Thanksgiving Service within the Abbey, Sunday 21st August, 1949 at 3 o'clock Afternoon.’ Order of Service.

References in secondary literature

  • Gladstone-Millar, Rev. W.E. 'The Abbey Pageant'. In The Third Statistical Account of Scotland: The County of Angus, edited by William Allen Illsley. Arbroath, 1977. At 525.
  • Ritchie, J. N. Graham. 'Images of the Declaration: The Arbroath Pageant.' In The Declaration of Arbroath: History, Significance, Setting, edited by Geoffrey Barrow. Edinburgh, 2003. At 86–107.

Archival holdings connected to pageant

  • The National Library of Scotland:
  • Arbroath Abbey Pageant Society, Pageant of the Declaration of Independence Souvenir Programme 1/-, 1949. Shelfmark: 5.5695.
  • Arbroath Abbey Pageant Society Presents the 1949 Historical Pageant of the Scottish Declaration of Independence, August 18-19-20, 1949. Publicity pamphlet. Shelfmark: 6.2393.
  • Pageant Thanksgiving Order of Service. Shelfmark: 5.5695.
  • Arbroath Library:
  • Arbroath Abbey Pageant Society, Pageant of the Declaration of Independence Souvenir Programme 1/-, 1949, 18:394.5.

Sources used in preparation of pageant

  • Translation from the original latin of the Declaration of Arbroath by Agnes Mure Mackenzie.

This translation was commissioned for the pageant and included within the pageant programme. It was later published as On the Declaration of Arbroath by the Saltire Society (Galashiels, 1951).


The 1949 pageant in Arbroath was third in the series of pageants that took place to celebrate the famous Declaration of Scottish Independence, which was despatched from the Abbey in Arbroath in 1320. For some reason, this pageant in a small town on the north east coast of Scotland took hold of people's imagination following its first outing in 1947, and it appears likely that the performances staged in 1949 were when the ambition to hold this as an annual event became a reality. As the historian Agnes Mure Mackenzie put it, the pageant began as 'a burgh commemoration. By its second performance it belonged to Scotland. By its third it already transcends the national, and spreads out to the world the truth of the freedom of nations, "that no good man surrenders but with his life"’.24

All the stars seemed to be aligned to create success for this pageant in the post-war years. Arbroath is an unprepossessing fishing town but as well as its fame for Arbroath Smokies, it also possessed the immense legacy of the Declaration, described at the time of the pageant by one newspaper as 'the most glorious event in Scottish History.'25 The intentions of this document had long been a matter for dispute among professional historians.26 However at a popular level, its sentiments about freedom and national sovereignty have a great deal of appeal and this was particularly in evidence in the years following the end of the Second World War. In his introductory address at the Friday night performance of the pageant, Vice Admiral Cunninghame Graham remarked that those who signed the charter in 1320 'found themselves, as we do today, in an uneasy truce following a victorious fight for freedom, with Bannockburn as its highlight, but they were united in a determination to maintain that freedom...'.27 Bounties that were more prosaic also accompanied the pageant: the weather, often chilly in this part of the world that enjoys winds straight off the North Sea, even in August, was excellent, and the performance was well-attended and attracted visitors to the town. It was generally agreed afterwards that 1949 had been the most successful Abbey Pageant so far, transcending both of its forerunners.28

Held outdoors amid the ruins of the medieval church, the pageant also drew attention to the need to preserve the iconic building where the Declaration was signed; and by holding the pageant on a third successive year, the organisers did successfully draw attention to this, for the pageant gained extensive publicity. In his opening speech at the Friday performance, Vice Admiral Cunninghame Graham declared that buildings such as the Abbey 'were not ruins—[they] were our heritage', and reminded the audience of the important work being done to preserve 'temporarily unwanted' country houses by the National Trust for Scotland.29 It is clear also that the pageant did a great deal for the economy of the town. Numerous advertisements for hotels and boarding houses included mention of the pageant,30 which by 1949 had become a week-long celebration with dances, displays, a historical procession and a celebration of the locality’s important fishing culture. Those involved with this industry, who traditionally lived in a quarter called 'the fit o' the toon', staged a performance of a traditional fisher wedding for the entertainment of locals and holidaymakers. This last entertainment, staged on Friday 19 August, drew huge crowds, who flocked to see those taking part in the enactment of the wedding processing through the main streets of the town; the wedding ceremony itself took place in the Drill Hall and tickets for this were sold out.31

In respect of the pageant itself, for this third enactment of the signing of the Declaration, some additions were made to the programme. Three 'ancillary historical tableaux', which told something of the history of Arbroath, preceded the 'main scene'.32 This main scene—as in previous (and subsequent) years—presented an idealised narrative of the actual signing of the document by the barons of Scotland. The three historical scenes included the coming of Christianity featuring St Ninian, the foundation of the Abbey facilitated by William I, and lastly, the execution in London of William Wallace—although, judging from the available evidence, public sensibilities were considered and the actual hanging, drawing and quartering of this Scottish freedom fighter does not seem to have been portrayed.

The selection of these three episodes in particular is of interest, and highlights two distinctive elements of the Arbroath pageants. Firstly, although most pageants in Scotland were deferential to Christian religious beliefs and often included prayers and hymns within the performance, the general air of religiosity that surrounded the Arbroath events was even more evident than that generally found within pageants. At the church service, which concluded 1949's pageant week, a local Church Minister stated that:

This had been a week of pageantry, but a week of pageantry in a church... this was a house of God, and it must always be regarded as such. Our Pageant was young in years. A hundred years from now men might be celebrating it; on the other hand, it might be dead in five years' time. But the originators were wise. They decreed that each performance should open with an act of worship... should the pageant be divorced from the worship of God and degenerate into mere miming of sacred things, should these hallowed walls be desecrated by being turned into a place of mere interest and entertainment, then the pageant is doomed. Spiritually it must die. Only a spiritual impulse will keep our Pageant alive...33

What the Minister did not mention of course, is that the house of God in question was once a Roman Catholic place of worship and indeed had quickly fallen into ruin after the Reformation. The Presbyterian churches therefore had good reason to wish to assert their influence within any ceremony that took place in this iconic building almost as a means to offset the pre-Reformation reality that was enacted in a pageant where one of the central figures was a Catholic Bishop.

Secondly, although no overt political propaganda accompanied the pageant, the stirring words of the Declaration could not help but be an inspiration for nationalists of various kinds. By its third staging, the pageant coincided with a heady time in the development of the Scottish National Party. In 1949, the Party drew up the National Covenant for Home Rule and launched this at their third annual conference; and only the following year, in 1950, a group of nationalists famously removed the Stone of Destiny from Westminster Abbey, some months later depositing it at Arbroath Abbey from where it was recovered. Notable also was the fact that the pageant programme included a piece on the Declaration by the erstwhile home rule enthusiast, Lewis Spence. Although by 1949 Spence was no longer politically active and was estranged from nationalist party ranks, his personal views on greater self-determination for Scotland were still strongly held. Possibly also lacking in coincidence was the incorporation of the scene concerning the martyrdom of Wallace. He too was grist to the nationalist mill. In 1947, members of the SNP had defied a ban by Dundee City Council and held a 'Wallace Day Demonstration of Commemoration' in a public park in the city. In support of this act of defiance, an SNP spokesperson condemned Dundee Council and specifically cited the case of Arbroath Town Council, which had 'backed... in every way' the commemoration of the Declaration in its first pageant that same year. This spokesperson went further:

Wallace did not belong to any party or division of people but to the Scottish people. The Scottish National Party were holding the demonstration for no reasons of selfish party propaganda, but in order that the people of Scotland might learn lessons from the days of Wallace, and might be inspired to put them into effect... If Wallace had been on the same platform in defiance of the Town Council of Dundee, he would have felt perfectly at home.

Such commentary, probably inadvertently, did point up a truth, for this most popular national historical figure was capable of symbolising directly competing political philosophies among Scots, and Wallace had equal appeal for the unionist majority.34 Most Scots saw Wallace as an important figure in the creation of a Scottish national identity that was strong enough to survive and, indeed, still flourish alongside political union. So a further element in this pageant's success was that while it stirred patriotism, and may have influenced a few to turn to the SNP, it did not necessarily rock what was still a steady unionist boat. Indeed, even Spence seemed more inclined to promote this stance on the pageant, writing that:

The Arbroath Declaration... should be engrossed in letters of gold and suspended on the wall of every Scottish schoolroom. Had its appeal failed, had a reinvigorated England once more attempted the enslavement of Scotland upon the death of Bruce, as indeed it did, although unsuccessfully, our country would assuredly have endured the same miseries and indignities as did Ireland until the beginning of the nineteenth century, and would have languished as a subsidiary and neglected province. But thanks to our staunch and courageous forebears, Scotland was at last enabled to arrive at a peaceful and amicable union with her larger neighbour... The two countries enjoyed an equality of partnership; one not the dominion of another...35

Guided by such sentiments, by its third outing in 1949, a now enlarged pageant was able to rouse the passions of Scots of all political persuasions or none, and all denominations or none, and, as Agnes Mure Mackenzie highlighted, it could appeal to devotees everywhere of 'freedom' both personal and political. Mackenzie also commented that 'the pageant may very well make new history as well as commemorating the old... I hope Arbroath will not be so modest as to feel that one smallish burgh cannot do so very much to make history?...a few voices speaking Propter Libertatum may explode latent force that can do tremendous things—I am sure.'36 She clearly spoke to a receptive audience who were still living with very recent memories of their nation being imperilled; the Arbroath Abbey Pageant thus continued its happy progress into a fourth year in 1950.


  1. ^ 'Arbroath Pageant', Scotsman, 17 August 1949, 3.
  2. ^ Arbroath Abbey Pageant Society, Pageant of the Declaration of Independence Souvenir Programme 1/-, 1949, 9.
  3. ^ Ibid., 10.
  4. ^ Ibid., 4.
  5. ^ Ibid.
  6. ^ Ibid., 10.
  7. ^ 'Pageant Points Way to Freedom', Dundee Courier, 19 August 1949, 2.
  8. ^ Ibid.
  9. ^ 'Arbroath Pageant Wants the Original', Dundee Courier, 8 November 1949, 2.
  10. ^ 'Arbroath Sale Helps Pageant Funds', Dundee Courier, 30 May 1949, 4.
  11. ^ 'Arbroath Pageant Wants the Original', Dundee Courier, 8 November 1949, 2.
  12. ^ 'Pageant Reflections', Arbroath Herald, 26 August 1949, 10.
  13. ^ 'Arbroath Abbey Pageant Plans', Dundee Courier, 15 April 1949, 3.
  14. ^ Arbroath Abbey Pageant Society Presents the 1949 Historical Pageant of the Scottish Declaration of Independence, August 18-19-20, 1949. Publicity pamphlet.
  15. ^ Arbroath Abbey Pageant Society, Pageant of the Declaration of Independence Souvenir Programme, 9.
  16. ^ Details of procession in ibid., 16.
  17. ^ Ibid., 9.
  18. ^ All information concerning the pageant introduction is from ibid., 10.
  19. ^ Ibid., 11.
  20. ^ Ibid.
  21. ^ Ibid.
  22. ^ Cast members’ names in ibid., 12-13; all other details and quotation taken from 'King Robert the Bruce Revisits Arbroath', Evening Telegraph (Dundee), 19 August 1949, 4.
  23. ^ 'King Robert the Bruce Revisits Arbroath', Evening Telegraph (Dundee), 19 August 1949, 4.
  24. ^ Agnes Mure Mackenzie in an extract from 'The Nor-East Pageant' reproduced in Arbroath Abbey Pageant Society, Pageant of the Declaration of Independence Souvenir Programme, 14. The quotation on freedom is a part of a famous line within the Declaration of Scottish Independence.
  25. ^ [Dundee] Evening Telegraph, 19 August 1949, 4.
  26. ^ For summary of opinion on this see Edward J. Cowan, For Freedom Alone: the Declaration of Arbroath, 1320 (East Linton, 2003)
  27. ^ Quoted in Arbroath Herald, 26 August 1949, 7.
  28. ^ 'Abbey Pageant of 1949 Transcends its Forerunners', Arbroath Herald, 26 August 1949, 7.
  29. ^ Speech quoted in 'Arbroath Pageant: Scotland's Debt to her Old Buildings', The Scotsman, 20 August 1949, 8.
  30. ^ See, for example, the Aberdeen Journal in successive weeks in June 1949.
  31. ^ 'Old-Time Fisher Wedding', Arbroath Herald, 26 August 1949, 9.
  32. ^ 'Arbroath Abbey Pageant Plans', Dundee Courier, 15 April 1949, 3.
  33. ^ 'Thanksgiving Service: Pageant in Many Ways Unique', Arbroath Herald, 26 August 1949, 9.
  34. ^ See James Coleman, Remembering the Past in Nineteenth-Century Scotland: Commemoration, Nationality and Memory (Edinburgh, 2014).
  35. ^ Arbroath Abbey Pageant Society, Pageant of the Declaration of Independence Souvenir Programme, 8.
  36. ^ ‘Letters to the Editor’, letter from Agnes Mure Mackenzie, Arbroath Herald, 26 August 1949, 11.

How to cite this entry

Angela Bartie, Linda Fleming, Mark Freeman, Tom Hulme, Alex Hutton, Paul Readman, ‘Pageant of the Declaration of Independence, Arbroath 1949’, The Redress of the Past,