History of Dundee & Angus

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Delve deep into the history of Dundee & Angus and discover everything there is to know about the region's fascinating past from its mysterious Pictish heritage to its proud scientific and industrial legacy. Take in grand castles such as Glamis, the childhood home of the late Queen Mother, and visit ancient religious buildings including Arbroath Abbey where the Declaration of Arbroath was signed in 1320.

During the first millennium, Angus was a hub for Pictish life and there are still many remnants of this time spread across the countryside. The best place to find out more is Pictavia in Brechin, which is home to hands-on exhibits and archaeological relics.

Explore the meanings behind their enigmatic carved stones, learn how their painted and tattooed bodies earned them the name of Picti, Latin for painted people, and hear of their fierce battles with invading Roman armies and Vikings.

Also in Brechin, you can take a ride on a 4-mile stretch of Victorian railway, preserved as an important part of the past - the Caledonian Railway.

No visit to Angus would be complete without a visit to Glamis Castle. Situated at the top of a mile-long drive amid the breathtaking natural beauty of the Strathmore Valley, this magnificent building is saturated in history and legend. Renowned throughout the world as the setting of Duncan's murder in Shakespeare's Macbeth, the castle is even said to have a secret room where a nobleman played cards with the devil himself! Take a tour of its sumptuous interior and admire the priceless treasures contained in its rooms before exploring its beautiful grounds and gardens.

In the beautiful harbour town of Arbroath, you’ll find the impressive ruins of Arbroath Abbey. The abbey is best known as the spot from which the Declaration of Arbroath was sent in April 1320. This document is regarded as the most important in Scottish history and you can discover the whole story in the ground floor of the gatehouse and in the visitor centre.

The city of Dundee is known for the three Js - jute, jam and journalism - the three industries on which the city's prosperity was built. You can find out more about the history of the jute capital at Scotland's Jute Museum @ Verdant Works, a restored jute mill now open as a history museum. Travel back a hundred years and take in the sights, sounds and smells of the original machines as they roar back to life.

Visitors can discover more at an impressive selection of museums and galleries, and can even step aboard legendary ships, including one that sailed all the way to Antarctica.

Discover the historic tales of Dundee’s two ships - the RRS Discovery and HM Unicorn. Follow in the footsteps of the intrepid Captain Scott as you climb aboard the splendid RRS Discovery at Discovery Point and hear about the gripping tale of one of the most heroic expeditions ever undertaken to Antarctica. The Unicorn is one of the world’s last intact warships from the days of sail and one of the six oldest ships in the world.

Did you know that Angus runs an Angus Heritage Week event? Held annually in September, the events is run in association with the popular Doors Open Days event which provides free access to a variety of unusual and interesting historic buildings throughout Angus, some of which are normally closed to the public. It celebrates the county’s history, traditions, architecture, wildlife, culture and natural surroundings and features a varied range of special events for all ages and interests.

  • Looking over the outside of Glamis Castle
    Glamis Castle
  • A costumed staff member on the deck of the RRS Discovery
    The deck of the RRS Discovery, the vessel that Captain Scott sailed to the Arctic
  • The statue dedicated to the Declaration of Arbroath at Arbroath, Angus
    The statue dedicated to the Declaration of Arbroath at Arbroath, Angus
  • Looking across the water to Broughty Castle at Broughty Ferry near Dundee with two sailboats in the foreground
    Broughty Castle at Broughty Ferry, Dundee
  • Arbroath Abbey
    Arbroath Abbey
The exterior of the McManus, Dundee city centre

Museums

Uncover the colourful local history in the museums of Dundee & Angus.

A woman looks at the pictish stones display in the exhibition

History timeline

Follow this historical timeline of Dundee & Angus for highlights from the region’s fascinating heritage.

A steam train pulls into the station

Historic attractions

Let your imagination be stirred in historic attractions of Dundee & Angus by tales of Pictish stones and legendary explorers.

The RRS Discovery, Discovery Point

Industry

Find out about the industries of Dundee and why this charming city is known for its three Js – jute, jam and journalism.

The McManus, Dundee's Art Gallery & Museum

Galleries

Browse national and local art works in the galleries of Dundee & Angus.

Arbroath Abbey

Ancestry

Explore ancestry in Dundee & Angus and find out if you have connections with the birthplace of Scottish independence.

A replica of the Declaration of Arbroath on display in Arbroath Abbey

Declaration of Arbroath

Learn about the fascinating origins of the Declaration of Arbroath, one of the most important documents in Scottish history, and how it inspired Thomas Jefferson when drafting the American Declaration of Independence.