History timeline of Dundee & Angus

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  • The ruins of Arbroath Abbey
    Arbroath Abbey
  • The grounds of Glamis Castle on a bright autumnal day, Angus
    The grounds of Glamis Castle, Angus
  • The RRS Discovery, Discovery Point
    The RRS Discovery, Discovery Point
  • The exterior of Verdant Works, Dundee
    Verdant Works, Dundee

Follow this historical timeline of Dundee & Angus for highlights from the region’s fascinating heritage. Explore historical attractions and let your imagination be stirred by epic tales, from Pictish battles to legendary explorers.

7th century

In the first millennium, Angus was at the heart of Pictish life. A defining moment for this ancient warrior tribe was their victory at the Battle of Dunnichen in AD 685, ending the Angles of Northumbria’s domination of Scotland. Follow the Pictish Trail to find places in Angus where you can see remnants of this mysterious civilisation.

14th century

The 14th century saw the eruption of the Wars of Independence between Scotland and England, and the signing of one of the most important documents in Scottish history. Angus is regarded by many as ‘Scotland’s Birthplace’ because of the connection between Arbroath Abbey and the Declaration of Arbroath in 1320, in which Scottish nobles swore their independence from England and asserted Robert the Bruce as the King of Scots.

Angus is also home to Glamis Castle, the legendary seat of Macbeth which has been the home of the Lyons family since 1372 and has found many royal connections over the centuries. Mary Queen of Scots visited in 1562 and the castle was also the childhood home of the late Queen Mother.

19th century

Explore 19th century Dundee & Angus, when the industrial revolution was in full swing.

The first bales of jute were unloaded at Dundee’s docks in 1820, an event which forms a huge part in the city’s fascinating industrial heritage. Take a step back in time and discover how the people of Dundee lived and worked over a hundred years ago at Verdant Works, when the city was the jute manufacturing capital of the world.

Highlights of this century also include the launch of the HM Frigate Unicorn in 1824, the oldest British-built warship still afloat today. The creator of Peter Pan was born in Angus in 1860, and you can learn more about this world-famous author at the JM Barrie’s Birthplace museum and Kirriemuir Camera Obscura.

Dr Thomas John MacLagan developed aspirin in 1876 while working as a medical superintendent at Dundee Royal Infirmary. He carried out research into the anti-rheumatic effects of salicin and his work was taken up by German researchers who used salicin to develop acetyl-salicylic acid, better known now as aspirin.

20th century

The turn of the 20th century saw the launch of RRS Discovery, the legendary ship that Captain Scott sailed on his expedition to the Antarctic. Today you can find this historic attraction berthed at Discovery Point in Dundee, where you can follow in the footsteps of Scott and his crew and learn about the hardships and triumphs they experienced on their incredible adventure.

In 1913, Britain’s first operational airfield was built near Montrose. Visit the fascinating Montrose Station Heritage Centre to find out more about Dundee & Angus during the World Wars.

In the early 20th century, George Alexander Pirie become one of the early pioneers in the application of X-rays to clinical medicine, working at Dundee Royal Infirmary from 1896 to 1925. He was awarded a Civil List pension and Carnegie Hero Trust medal and pension in 1926 in grateful recognition of his service.

Sir Robert Alexander Watson-Watt began his working life as a meteorologist, trying to use radio waves to detect thunderstorms. It was during this work that he realised radio waves may also be able to detect aircraft. His work attracted the attention of the British Government, and a radio defence system was in place in time for the Second World War. You can see a plaque dedicated to him outside his former home in Union Street, Brechin.