Scotland's oldest surviving book still in Scotland: The Celtic Psalter

Scotland's Celtic Psalter dates from the 11th Century and contains hand-written psalms in bold, clear Irish miniscule script giving a text of the Psalms in Latin. The 1,000 years old psalter, which is the oldest Scottish book still in Scotland, has Gaelic and Pictish Celtic illustrations. With its extraordinary illuminations in vivid green, red, purple and gold, it has been described as Scotland's version of the famous Book of Kells in Dublin. The Book of Kells/Leabhar Cheanannais is kept in the library of Dublin's Trinity College and was made by Celtic Monks around 800AD. That book also has a design that incorporates Celtic designs into Christian iconography. The book's name is taken from the Abbey of Kells in County Meath where it was previously located.

Less is known about the history of Scotland's pocket-size Celtic Psalter which is now kept by the University of Edinburgh library. Thought to have been written at a Scottish monastery, how the book was acquired by the University is unclear. Although the original binding is lost it is in almost pristine internal condition. As the oldest of some 275 Western medieval manuscripts it is seen as one of the library's most valuable treasure's. The book will be on display at the 2017 Edinburgh International Book Festival being held from 12-28 August. There is an event - Making a Book in Medieval Scotland - being held on Monday, August 21 at 3pm where Elizabeth Lawrence, from the University of Edinburgh archive, will look at the original techniques used in its creation. 


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