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While there is evidence for settlement of the area now occupied by the town that dates back to the Iron Age, Arbroath's history as a town begins in the High Middle Ages with the founding of Arbroath Abbey. Arbroath grew considerably during the Industrial Revolution owing to the expansion of the jute industry. A new harbour was built in 1839 and by the 1900s, Arbroath had become one of the larger fishing ports in Scotland.
The town is notable as the home of the Declaration of Arbroath, as well as the Arbroath Smokie.