Scotland

Early printed books bought for public by National Library of Scotland

Campassio text Image copyright NAtional Library of Scotland
Image caption The books were held in a private collection in Glamis Castle in Angus

Two of the first ever books to be printed in Scotland have been bought by the National Library of Scotland.

The Aberdeen Breviary contains services and readings used in Scottish churches and was printed in 1509-10.

Bound at the back of it is a smaller book, called the Compassio Beate Marie, which has the story of the arrival of St Andrew's relics in Scotland.

Librarians said the purchase would guarantee public access to an essential piece of Scottish history.

The Aberdeen Breviary was the first printed service book to chronicle the lives of the Scottish saints and is thought to have been compiled by the best Scottish historians of the day.

Image copyright NATIONAL LIBRARY OF SCOTLAND
Image caption The books are thought to be the best surviving example of the Aberdeen Breviary

Produced around 1509, it was the reason King James IV granted a licence for printing to begin in Scotland.

This particular copy has another small book bound at the back of it called the Compassio Beate Marie. It features readings about the arrival of St Andew's relics in Scotland.

The set had been held at Glamis Castle in Angus for many years.

There are three other surviving sets of the Aberdeen Breviary, including one already in the National Library's collections.

All the copies are different and the Glamis copy is considered by some scholars to be the best surviving example.

The National Library said the last time such a unique example of early Scottish printing was added to its collection was more than 200 years ago.

Scotland's National Librarian, Dr John Scally, said: "This is a very significant addition to our collection.

"Each surviving copy of the Aberdeen Breviary makes an important contribution to our understanding of how Scotland's first books were printed.

"As is often the case with the first products of a printing press, the work was still somewhat experimental and many corrections were made during the printing process.

"The Aberdeen Breviary is the only work which allows comparisons to be made, shedding new light on Scotland's first experience with printing."

The works, written in Latin, have been digitised and will be available to view on the library's website.

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