Thursday, December 10, 2009

Scotland's Oldest Book to be Displayed

Some very cool news out of Scotland: the "Celtic Psalter," an 11th-century manuscript believed to have been produced at Iona, and called Scotland's "oldest surviving book*," is set to go on public display for the first time, as part of the "Masterpieces 1" exhibit at Edinburgh University. It has been in the university library's collections since the 17th century.

Rare books librarian Joseph Marshall told The Scotsman "We have had the book for a large part of its recorded history but we have never had a public exhibition room, so it has never been in proper public view before. It's really only been seen by academics and researchers – people who study medieval manuscripts. The great thing about it is we think it is the oldest Scottish book still in Scotland, so it is one of our greatest national treasures, and people haven't really known about it. We are hoping people will recognise it for what it is – one of the most precious documents in the country."

Other items in the "Masterpieces 1" exhibit include the first book printed in a Gaelic language, and what's called the "finest surviving copy" of Scotland's first "substantial printed book" (the Aberdeen Breviary, 1509-10).

* There are other claimants to the "Scotland's oldest book" mantle, so the Celtic Psalter is being qualified as "the oldest Scottish book currently in Scotland."

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