Best Scottish history events of 2020

22 January 2020
We take a look at some of the many events we can look forward to over the coming months.

Year of Coasts and Waters

2020 is the national Year of Coasts and Waters. Keep a look out for events around the country tied into the country’s lochs, rivers and coastline. Fife regatta (4-11 June) will start and finish in Largs, taking in various locations around the Clyde including Holy Loch Marina, Dunoon, Rothesay, Isle of Bute and Tighnabruaich, Argyll.

In September, Clydebuilt Festival brings the River Clyde to life and includes ‘Castle to Crane’, Scotland’s biggest open water rowing race from Dumbarton castle to the Finnieston crane; an opening night spectacle; and music, craft, art and activities.

World Heritage Day, 18 April

Celebrate the country’s six UNESCO World Heritage sites with events featuring the Forth Bridge, Antonine Wall, New Lanark, Heart of Neolithic Orkney, Edinburgh Old Town & New Town, St Kilda.


Declaration of Arbroath 700

2020 marks the 700th anniversary of the Declaration of Arbroath and to celebrate, the town of Arbroath will host a horse-led procession of over 500 people marching from Arbroath abbey to Arbroath harbour, with a re-enactment of the declaration of Arbroath sailing to France in 1320.


History Scotland lectures

Our popular Lectures event, held in association with the Centre for Scottish Culture, returns in April, with a talk by Dr Fiona Jane Watson titled ‘For glory, riches and honours – the rocky road to the Declaration of Arbroath’. The event, chaired by Professor Michael Brown of University of St Andrews, takes place on 28 April at the University of Dundee. To reserve your free place, click here.

National Galleries Scotland

National Galleries has two major exhibitions, beginning with Ray Harryhausen: Titan of Cinema (starts 23 May), marking the centenary of Harryhausen’s birth. His collection will be showcased in its entirety.

Titian: Love, Desire, Death (opens 11 July) brings five of Titian’s greatest works together for the first time since 1704 – a showcase of his large-scale mythological paintings.


National Museums Scotland

National Museums Scotland (NMS) will stage four exhibitions: Tyrannosaurs, (23 Jan to 4 May), The Galloway Hoard: Viking-Age Treasure (29 May to 18 October), Little Black Dress (26 June to 25 October) and Legacies of Empire (April 2020 to April 2021).


Scottish Genealogy Society

The Scottish Genealogy Society will be running a programme of talks and workshops throughout the year, including a talk titled ‘Understanding DNA’ from genetic genealogy expert Michelle Leonard (March, exact date to be confirmed). The talks take place at the Augustine United Church Centre, on George IV Bridge, Edinburgh and start at 7.30pm. Non-members are welcome to come along.


Declaration of Arbroath Family History Project Exhibition, 3 July to 14 August

An exhibition exploring the biographies, genealogical charts and coats of arms of 16 individuals associated with the Declaration of Arbroath of 1320, as well as information on another 33 'signatories.'

The exhibition will also present the findings of genetic genealogy research, using DNA test results and documentary evidence. 

The research is being carried out by staff and postgraduate students of the University of Strathclyde's Genealogical Studies Postgraduate Programme and is funded by the Foundation for Medieval Genealogy.