DNA and the Declaration of Arbroath

Holton, Graham and Macdonald, Alasdair (2020) DNA and the Declaration of Arbroath. BBC Who do you think you are?. pp. 27-30. ISSN 7557-6900 (In Press)

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The year was 1320, the place, Newbattle Abbey, a Cistercian Abbey a few miles from Edinburgh. Despite the overwhelming Scots victory over the English at the Battle of Bannockburn in 1314, the many years of conflict between the two countries continued. The Scots, led by King Robert the Bruce, sought peace and recognition of their place as an independent nation. Here, at Newbattle, a great council of the nobles and barons, deliberated on the content of a letter to be sent to Pope John XXII, asking him to encourage King Edward II of England to grant this recognition and reach a peace agreement. Some weeks later, as a result of the council’s decisions, the letter, expertly drafted by the Scots Chancery at Arbroath Abbey, was dispatched from there, dated 6 April 1320, in the name of the nobles, barons freeholders and the ‘community of the realm of Scotland’. It has become known as the Declaration of Arbroath. The Declaration of Arbroath Family History Project, run by the Genealogical Studies Postgraduate Programme within the Centre for Lifelong Learning, University of Strathclyde, and funded by the Foundation for Medieval Genealogy, marks the 700th anniversary of the Declaration. The Project’s aim is to throw light on the ‘signatories’ of the Declaration from a genealogical point of view. (The term ‘signatories’ is used in this context to indicate individuals who were either named in the document or attached their seal to it). There are two strands to the Project – the documentary strand, researching the ‘signatories’ and their families and the genetic genealogy strand. The first of these is based on the work of Postgraduate Diploma students and the second on work by staff with some input from students.