An important 16th-century Scottish manuscript was purchased last month at auction by the National Library of Scotland, which has announced it will ensure its preservation as a source of historic and linguistic significance.
The manuscript was compiled by several different scribes between 1554 and 1579, at Fortingall in Highland Perthshire.
Its contents are written in Latin, Scots, and Gaelic, and include contemporary annals, poetry, lists of Scottish kings and battles, chronicles recording the deaths of prominent members of Highland society, and short prose offering commentary on themes from medicinal treatments to religious beliefs.
Its scribes belonged to the MacGregor family, who also created the Book of the Dean of Lismore, the earliest-known surviving collection of Gaelic poetry compiled in Scotland. This is also housed in the National Library’s collection.
Dr Ulrike Hogg, Manuscripts Curator at the National Library of Scotland, said: ‘We consider the Chronicle of Fortingall a partner volume to the Book of the Dean of Lismore, the Library’s single most important Gaelic manuscript and one of our greatest treasures. It is a great privilege for us to be able to bring the manuscripts together again after their compilation some 450 years ago.
‘The Gaelic contents of the Chronicle of Fortingall make a significant addition to our Scottish Gaelic manuscripts collection, which is the largest in the world. And securing the manuscript for the national collections means we can make the contents publicly accessible and ensure its professional preservation.’
Dr Martin MacGregor, Senior Lecturer in Scottish History at the University of Glasgow, described the Chronicle of Fortingall as ‘an important source for the history of the Highlands – social, political, cultural, economic, and religious. It also has great linguistic importance as it embodies the interplay of Latin, Scots, and Gaelic as written languages in then Gaelic-speaking Scotland.’