As Scotland makes an historic decision today, this is a good opportunity to highlight some of the sources for the study of Scottish history within the M&ARL collections.
Displayed here is a page of a fifteenth-century copy of the earliest attempt to write a continuous history of Scotland: John de Fordun’s Scotichronicon (TCD MS 498). Fordun wrote his history in response to the removal and destruction of many national records by the English King Edward III, grandson of the infamous ‘Hammer of the Scots’, Edward I. The page shown features an account of the famous Battle of Stirling Bridge on 11 September 1297, when the forces of William Wallace and Andrew de Moray defeated the combined English forces of John de Warenne, 7th earl of Surrey, and Hugh de Cressynghame, near Stirling on the river Forth.
Also in the M&ARL collection are two copies of the Senchus fer n-Alban, (TCD MS 1289 and 1298), a genealogical text originating from the oral tradition and codified in later manuscripts. The Senchus provides both a mythical and historical record of the ‘history of the men of Scotland’ from their Dal Riata origins and, in a description of an encounter in 719 AD, includes the earliest reference to a naval battle off British shores.
TCD MS 226 is a beautiful twelfth-century religious manuscript of the sermons of St Augustine and other texts originating from Kelso Abbey in the Scottish Borders. The text is heavily decorated and as such is a rare survival among Scottish medieval manuscripts.
The M&ARL collection also contains what might be termed as ‘Jacobite relics’, including the elaborate marriage certificate of Bonnie Prince Charlie’s parents, ‘The Old Pretender’, James III to Maria Clementina Sobieski in 1719 (TCD MS 7574). There is also an early manuscript copy of Robert Burns’ poem ‘Address to the Deil [devil]’ (TCD MS 10664 p 95) contained in a volume of poems by William Young, curate of Magheraculmoney, Co Fermanagh, 1720-c1757.
M&ARL holds nineteenth-century tour journals of trips to Scotland and political papers including those of James Connolly (TCD MS 11074) executed in 1916. Connolly was born in Edinburgh and had links to the Scottish socialist movement. M&ARL also holds the papers of Michael Davitt (TCD MS 9535), who became involved in the Crofters’ war of the 1880s and toured Scotland in 1882.
Of course the most famous manuscript with a Scottish link is the Book of Kells, which may have been produced, in part, on Iona, off the coast of Scotland, by Irish monks in the ninth century.