A new tune has been composed to mark the 700th anniversary of the Declaration of Arbroath.
The anniversary was on April 6 but due to the coronavirus pandemic, went largely unmarked. Indeed, a major festival planned in the Angus town of Arbroath had to be shelved. Some celebrations are being. rescheduled for next year.
Pete Stewart, pictured, from East Lothian, Scotland, composed this 4/4 march (below) in February. Pete is the editor of the Common Stock, the journal produced by the Lowland & Border Pipers’ Society (LBPS) and plays in the Roch Wind border pipe ensemble.
Stuart Letford, Convenor of the LBPS said: “This is a lovely tune and we suspect Pete may have wanted to debut it at our annual competition which was supposed to take place in Glasgow at the end of March. Like many events, it has become a victim of the lockdown. To mark the anniversary, we had added an invitational professional event and asked each piper to make their own musical ‘declaration’.
“Pete is a fairly prolific composer of original music and we’re sure this quite stately 4/4 of his will be taken up by many pipers.
“We’re considering re-scheduling the competition for later in the year and look forward to a mass rendition of this tune from delegates!”
The Declaration of Arbroath is a letter that was submitted to Pope John XXII in Avignon, France in 1320. It was essentially an appeal from the county’s leading nobles to lift the excommunication and recognise Robert the Bruce as the rightful king rather than John de Balliol, and of its sovereign right to use military action when unjustly attacked. It was signed with the seals of the leading nobles of the day.
The Declaration of Arbroath was ann important document in mediaeval European history. In the late 17th century the text, in Latin, was translated into English. Scholars are divided over whether the document inspired the American Declaration of Independence.
A contemporary copy of the letter, produced on sheepskin, is in the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh.