Your correspondent Dominic Quigley is right to lament the fact that nobody commemorates April 6 as the date of the Declaration of Arbroath - though in an age in which (according to a recent survey) significant numbers of people think Harold Wilson was Britain's wartime prime minister, and others that Conan the Barbarian was a real historical figure, this is arguably hardly surprising. Most of those who have heard of the Declaration probably recall only the stanza that appears on Braveheartish tea towels (''For so long as but 100 of us remain alive'', etc) - which is a pity, as inevitably there's a great deal more to it.

Professor Geoffrey Barrow in his Robert the Bruce and the Community of the Realm of Scotland offers a fascinating analysis of this pivotal document, though his is obviously not the only interpretation. The ''Arbroath'' handle does not imply a grand muster of the great and good at the east coast town, and the author is generally accepted as being Bernard, Abbot of Arbroath and Chancellor of Scotland (though there are other theories).

Professor Barrow explains that the text is a literary masterpiece of classical Latin, bursting at the seams with highly-crafted allusions which would be readily understood and appreciated by its recipients in the Vatican - public relations raised to an art form? - rather than any baronial burst of mere tub-thumping nationalism. The document details at some length the atrocities committed by Edward Longshanks and his henchmen against monasteries, monks and nuns - obviously for Vatican consumption - and accurately portrays the English monarch as an evil and rapacious opportunist bent on violent self-aggrandisement at the expense of a country which had done him no wrong.

But Barrow's analysis goes further: some of the names on the document appear to be included mainly to prove their owners are ''in'' (and some were actually executed for treason some years after the Declaration) while others whose loyalty to King Robert I was beyond dispute are missing. His conclusion is that it was not possible in a short space of time to obtain personal seals from people operating all over the country - while some of the signatories who do appear were clearly important because they were ''waverers'', or unknown quantities, who had finally been forced to cast their die for the Bruce faction.

King Robert's core proposition was, of course, that the Scots would never ''on any conditions be brought under English rule'' and the Declaration asserts that if he were to compromise that imperative then the signatories had the right to get rid of him and ''drive him out as our enemy''.

The peerless historian John Prebble (in The Lion in the North) summed up the Declaration's full significance - it ''set the people above the king'', he said, in a way which would have been unthinkable only a few decades earlier. Prebble concludes: ''From the darkness of medieval minds it shone a torch upon future struggles which its signatories could not have foreseen or understood.''

Roy Beers,

3 Bowmont Terrace, Glasgow.

WITH ''Tartan Day'' upon us once more, or more correctly upon the US, it is worth considering what this celebration is all about. The chosen date of course comes from the 1320 declaration of the independence of Scotland from London domination. It would please me if Messrs McConnell, McLetchie and Gorrie were actually in New York to celebrate such a worthy cause as that independence. But they are not there for such a purpose. They ''commemorate'' the Declaration of Arbroath by marching behind the butcher's apron through New York and then at home here every four years they tell the Scots that they cannot live up to the spirit of the 1320 Declaration!

Do the unionists think that if they play the Scottish card like this we cannot see right through them? They attempt to rewrite the past while denying our nation a normal future.

William Henderson,

16 Queens Terrace, Thurso.

I CAN assure you that in no way was Tartan Day in New York marred or diminished by some supposed or real feud between Sir Sean Connery and any MSP. Ninety-nine per cent of the marchers and spectators didn't know or couldn't even care about this rift. I can assure you that a good day was had by all. Scots-Americans united with Scots and celebrated the significant contribution of your small country to the genesis and growth of our large country.

Edward Collins,

NY Tartan Day Committee,

(UBS Wealth Management,

590 Madison Avenue, New York, NY 10022).