On Saturday 18th May 2013 thirteen members of the Hammermen Incorporation along with the Deacon Convener visited Arbroath as part of the Inner Marches day.
After meeting at Trinity Hall for breakfast, the Deacon, Bruce Campbell, informed those present of the programme for the day. Prior to departure he asked the Deacon Convener to talk about the portrait of King William the Lyon on display in Trinity Hall.
Boarding the minibus, we then set off for Arbroath Abbey. On arrival we were given a guided tour of the Abbey buildings. Founded in 1178 for monks of the Tironensian order by King William the Lion,
King William, who died at Stirling, was buried before the high altar of the church in 1214.
Arbroath Abbey is most famous in Scottish history for its association with the Declaration of Arbroath. On 6 April 1320 the Scottish Declaration of Independence was signed by the assembled Scottish nobility in the Abbey. The Declaration was addressed to the Pope who had given his support to Edward II and excommunicated Robert the Bruce. The nobles had to intervene in the dispute between the Bruce and the Pope. The Declaration explained how the Bruce had rescued the country from a dreadful situation and for this they would support him in all things.
The Declaration was an inspiration for future generations. The most famous quote is this:
“For, so long as a hundred remain alive, we will never in any degree be subject to the dominion of the English. Since not for glory, riches or honours do we fight, but for freedom alone, which no man loses but with his life.”
After lunch we visited one of the local Smokehouses to find out how the traditional Arbroath Smokie is prepared. Stuart Scott gave a talk on the preparation and smoking of the haddock to produce the traditional Arbroath Smokies’.
The characteristics of the Arbroath Smokie are linked to the geographical area on the basis of tradition, reputation, the smoking process (largely unchanged from the 19th century) and the skills of those involved in that process. Skills which have been passed down from generation to generation.
That tradition and the processes involved can be proven categorically and traced back to the late 19th century. At that time, of course, there existed no refrigeration equipment or ice making capability. Therefore, in order to keep and extend the shelf-life of their perishable products, the choice was salting, drying, smoking or a combination of all of these.
The Arbroath Smokie now has protected status under European law and can only be called an Arbroath Smokie if it is produced in the traditional manner within a five mile radius of the town.
Samples were eagerly purchased.
A return trip to Aberdeen and a tea in Trinity Hall finished off a most interesting and enjoyable day out.
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