NE Scotland, Orkney & Shetland

Document sheds light on Medieval voyage from Aberdeen

Council register Image copyright Norman Adams/Aberdeen City Council
Image caption The discovery was made in a council register

A rare document about an Aberdeen ship sailing to North America in 16th Century has been found.

A council register describes how the the "William" travelled to Newfoundland in 1596.

It is believed to be one of the earliest documented references to the voyage of a Scottish vessel.

The find was made by Thomas Brochard, an honorary research fellow at the University of Aberdeen, who said it was "astonishing".

Aberdeen City Council said it believed that, until now, the earliest documented Scottish ship to sail the Atlantic was a Dundee vessel named the "Gift of God", which had sailed from Portugal in 1600.

Mr Brochard said: "I was trawling through the records when my eyes chanced upon the words 'new fund land' (Newfoundland).

"This turned out to be an astonishing discovery.

"I'm sure other gems like this are waiting to be discovered in the burgh records which are an incredibly rich resource for historians."

'Historically significant'

Lord Provost Barney Crockett said: "Aberdeen is a proud maritime city, and this is a hugely important historical find.

"It clearly demonstrates that Aberdeen was at the forefront of Scottish trade to the New World as far back as the 16th Century.

"Our archives are recognised as being of outstanding historic importance to the UK, and we are extremely fortunate that our city's forefathers had the good sense to keep these records safe for future generations to learn from and enjoy."

City archivist Phil Astley added: "Quirky and unusual stories quite often come to light when reading through original records - it's part of the fun of working in an archive.

"However, it's rare to have a find as historically significant."