Historic abbey taken off weddings circuit

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IT’S the place where Scots first declared their independence but it will no longer be the location for blessed unions.

Historic Scotland has decided to drop ancient Arbroath Abbey from its list of historic venues where couples can tie the knot.

Now the decision to ban weddings has been condemned by the recently-formed Arbroath Abbey Action Group, which is aiming to attract more visitors to the site.

The ruined abbey, the town’s biggest tourist attraction, is one of a number of sites operated by Historic Scotland where the right for couples to say “I do” has been scrapped as part of a rationalisation of the agency’s wedding ceremony venues.

But the decision is a major blow to the organisation established only five months ago to raise international awareness of the site’s vital place in the history of Scotland. The action group is aiming to attract more visitors to the abbey where the document asserting Scotland’s right to nationhood was signed by nobles and barons in 1320.

Graeme Dey, who formed the action group and is the SNP MSP for north-east Scotland, said he would be campaigning for the decision to be reversed. “The first I knew about it was earlier this month when a constituent told me that they had tried to book their daughter’s wedding and discovered to their horror that there was no longer access to weddings at the abbey,” he said.

Dey continued: “You would think that the abbey would be an ideal place for couples looking for an unusual site for a wedding. But the figures they [Historic Scotland] have cited suggest there is not as great an interest as we might think. That may be down to marketing. Is it the case that people didn’t know it was available for weddings and that it has not been promoted for that purpose?”

A spokesman for Historic Scotland defended the agency’s decision. He explained that under its previous policy wedding ceremonies could be held at all 78 locations but following a review this was restricted to 22 of the most popular venues “to ensure a memorable and quality experience for both wedding parties and visitors.”