TAMH: Source Material
Arbroath Harbour: Earliest Harbour

From the Guide 3rd January 1953.




The first of the Arbroath harbours, that built by Abbot Gedy, was only a wooden pier resting upon an embankment of boulders. It was in the shape of a bent arm projecting from the small promontory now called Danger Point, and turning westward. The space which it partially enclosed thus lay in front of the street called Old Shorehead.

This harbour. which lay to the East side of the Brothock, continued to be under the joint management of the monastery and the burgesses as long as the former had any existence. A formal covenant was entered into between the two in April 1394, and is an interesting document reputed to be one of the oldest, and also one of the most curious and interesting, in the records of harbour-making and also of voluntary taxation in Scotland. A summary of the document shows it was agreed the Abbot and convent should make and maintain, at their expense, in the best situation a safe harbour for the burgh.

The burgesses, on the other hand, were to clear the place fixed on from sand and stone and all other impediments; to fill with stone, and place, the coffers required for the harbour under the direction of the masters of the work; and to find certain tools necessary for that purpose at their own expense. Because in the founding of the harbour much labour and expense were entailed, more than the burgesses could bear, the burgesses were required to pay to the Abbot yearly three pennies from each rood of land within the burgh in addition to the three pennies already paid.

The customs dues were taken possession of by the Crown about 1357 to contribute towards the ransom of David II from captivity, but a renewed grant in favour

of the Abbey was made by James V, and this showed that by 1528 the harbour had fallen into dilapidated state for want of revenue to meet the cost of repairs. It was found necessary in that year to call on all inhabitants to give labour in clearing the harbour of sand and stones, under penalty of a fine of eightpence for absence from this duty.