New Scriptorium at Arbroath Abbey

An ambitious new artist commission with Bobby Niven, New Scriptorium is an artist designed building that will be sited on the Abbey grounds.
The new Scriptorium or ‘thinking space’, for Arbroath Abbey takes its starting point from all that we know about the function of the scriptorium, this opens many ideas and opportunities for the way in which the building is used throughout 2020.

Hosting a major programme of engagement with schools and young people foregrounding literacy and the debate about the circulation of knowledge. This building will also be the site of 6 residencies for writers.

Arbroath Abbey

Inspired by the culture of making, thinking and learning that was so central to the culture of the Benedictine order in this medieval period. At its most powerful; the presence of the literate monks who had the power to distribute knowledge and information through their document making, the presence of this working space, in combination with the presence of the powerful abbot of the time, Abbot Bernard, would have been one of the key reasons that the Declaration, now referred to as the Declaration of Arbroath, would have been sent from Arbroath.

We know that Arbroath Abbey, as a very large and active community, had within its many facilities a library or scriptorium where monks transcribed, wrote and illuminated documents and bound early manuscripts into books. The ability to read and write and convey information and document history was as powerful then as it is today.

The New Scriptorium built structure and engagement programme will explore and respond to the social, political and cultural histories of the Abbey and its influence on Scottish History.

New Scriptorium will host six writing residencies over a six month period. Selected writers will develop new writing inspired by their time in Arbroath and using the New Scriptorium as their studio base. The new work will be platform in collaboration with the selecting organisations – the story of Arbroath will be reinterpreted by writers of today and distributed across Scotland through important organisations who work to support new Scottish writing.

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