Skip to main content

14th-century manuscript of the chartulary of Arbroath Abbey, also known as the 'Registrum Vetus'.

Identifier: Adv.MS.34.4.2

Scope and Contents

Chartulary produced in Scotland recording grants relating to the Tironensian Abbey of Arbroath. The material present roughly covers the years 1178 to 1329, with some later insertions and additions. The manuscript consists of copies of royal, episcopal, papal and other charters, arranged partly by reigns and partly by grantors. Borland also notes that it contains many notices of the Culdees, especially in connection with their convent at Abernethy and with the Cathedral at Brechin. Davis dates the manuscript to the mid-14th century with later additions. Both Borland and the Bannatyne Club edition date the manuscript to the early 14th century. The work is multi-scribal, and is written in a variety of contemporary charter hands, except for the later interpolations.

The contents are as follows:

Later 15th-century interpolations. Folios 1r-5v

Valuation of Scottish bishoprics. Folio 6r.

Charters of the reign of Alexander II(?). Folios 6r-24v

Ecclesiastical valuations and taxation of benefices. Folios 24v-27v.

Tables of contents for the proceeding charters, from the foundation of the Abbey in 1178 to circa 1329. Folios 28r-32r.

Charters of the reign of William I. Folios 32v-63v.

Charters of the reigns of Alexander I and Alexander II. Folios 63v-77v.

Charters of the Bishop of St. Andrews. Folios 77v-86v.

Charters of the Bishop of Brechin. Folios 86v-93r.

Charters of the Bishop of Aberdeen. Folios 93r-95v.

Charters of the Bishop of Moray. Folios 95v-98r.

Charters of the Bishop of Dunblane. Folios 98r-99v.

Charters of the Bishop of Dunkeld. Folios 99v-100v.

Papal Bulls. Folios 101r-106r.

Charters of the reign of Robert I in the abbacy of Bernard de Linton. Folios 106r-118v.

A series of statutes of the parliaments of Robert I, and a few deeds of the reign of David II. Folios 119r-123v.

Later interpolations, similar to those at the beginning of the volume. 124r-132v. The decoration consists of red initials, rubrics, and consecutive red numeration in Roman numerals.

An early foliation runs in the top margin in Roman numerals, but this has been superseded by a modern library foliation. The foliation references given by Borland and Davis use the incomplete early foliation rather than the modern library foliation. The foliation given in this record uses modern library foliation.

Each folio has been lined and ruled recto and verso.

Pricking is occasionally visible for the horizontal lines, but not for the vertical lines.

There are a few maniculae, either scribal or near-contemporary.

There are infrequent scribal marginal annotations. Throughout the manuscript there are pencil inscriptions, probably 19th-century, relating to the other Arbroath chartularies and registers.

There is evidence throughout of contemporary repairs to the vellum.

Horizontal catchwords are present on the following folios: 11v, 19v, 35v, 43v, 51v, 59v, 67v, 75v, 83v, 91v, 99v, 107v, 115v.


  • Creation: Mid 14th century.


Conditions Governing Access

Normal access conditions apply.

Conditions Governing Use

Normal reproduction conditions apply, subject to any copyright restrictions.


1 Volumes ; 23.8cm x 16cm x 5cm

Language of Materials



i-iv + 132 + v-vi folios.

Collation as recorded by Catherine Borland:

a⁵ (wants 1), b⁶ (wants 4 and 5), c-q⁸, r⁹ (irregular)

Collation as recorded by Dr Joanna Tucker:

Flyleaves: 4 folios (1 paper, 3 parchment)

Gathering I: folios 1-5 (5 folios)

Gathering II: folios 6-11 (6 folios)

Gathering III: folios 12-19 (8 folios)

Gathering IV: folios 20-27 (8 folios)

Gathering V: folios 28-35 (8 folios)

Gathering VI: folios 36-43 (8 folios)

Gathering VII: folios 44-51 (8 folios)

Gathering VIII: folios 52-59 (8 folios)

Gathering IX: folios 60-67 (8 folios)

Gathering X: folios 68-75 (8 folios)

Gathering XI: folios 76-83 (8 folios)

Gathering XII: folios 84-91 (8 folios)

Gathering XIII: folios 92-99 (8 folios)

Gathering XIV: folios 100-107 (8 folios)

Gathering XV: folios 108-115 (8 folios)

Gathering XVI: folios 116-123 (8 folios)

Gathering XVII: folios 124-132 (9 folios) (stubs visible between folios 127/128 and 130/131)

Flyleaves: 2 folios (parchment)

Custodial History

The manuscript was in the possession of Sir James Balfour of Denmilne. On the verso of folio i is Denmilne number 29. Balfour's device of an arrow and heart is present on folio 132v.

The manuscript was bought by the Library of the Faculty of Advocates at the sale of James Balfour's books in 1698.

There are ownership inscriptions for the Library on the recto sides of folios i and 6.

The previous shelfmark assigned to the volume by the Library of the Faculty of Advocates is given on the recto of folio i: 'A.5.13', since superseded.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Presented, 1925, by the Faculty of Advocates to the nation on the foundation of the National Library of Scotland.

Existence and Location of Copies

17th-century abstract by Sir James Balfour: Adv.MS.33.2.9.

Copies of charters compiled by Richard Augustine Hay, 1696: Adv.MS.34.1.10

Transcript made for Walter Macfarlan, 18th century: Adv.MS.35.3.2

British Library: Additional MS 33246, folios 96-362.


Borland, C. R. 'Catalogue of Mediaeval Manuscripts in the Library of the Faculty of Advocates at Edinburgh', 4 Volumes. (Unpublished manuscript, Edinburgh, 1906-1908). Volume II, folios 455-457. NLS Reference: FR.198a/2.

Cunningham, I. C. 'Medieval Cartularies of Great Britain: Amendments and Additions to the Scottish Section of Davis', Monastic Research Bulletin, Volume 3 (1997), pages 1-7.

Cunningham, I. C. 'Sir James Balfour's Manuscript Collection: The 1698 Catalogue and other sources', Edinburgh Bibliographical Society Transactions, Volume, VI, Part 6 (2004), pages 191-255.

Davis, G. R. C. (ed.) 'Medieval Cartularies of Great Britain and Ireland. Revised by Claire Breay, Julian Harrison, and David M. Smith' (London, 2010), pages 228-229, number 1118.

'Folio Catalogue of Manuscripts: Chartularies' (Unpublished manuscript, Edinburgh [18??]), folios 3-6. NLS Reference: FR.189.

Innes, C. 'Liber S. Thome de Aberbrothoc. Registrorum Abbacie de Aberbrothoc pars prior. Registrum vetus munimentaque eidem coetanea complectens. 1178-1329. (Pars altera. Registrum nigrum necnon libros cartarum recentiores complectens. 1329-1536)', Bannatyne Club, 2 Volumes (Edinburgh, 1848-1856).

'Summary Catalogue of the Advocates' Manuscripts' (Edinburgh, 1971), page 15, number 141; page 107, number 1370.

Turnbull, W. B. D. D. 'Fragmenta Scoto-Monastica: Memoir of what has been already done, and what materials exist, towards the formation of a Scotish (sic) Monasticon.' (Edinburgh, 1842), page 3.

Physical Description


The binding is of 17th-century brown leather. The front and back boards are blind-stamped with circular designs and border bars. The three edges of the boards and the turn-ins also have blind-tooled designs. Both of the boards have vellum paste-downs with later pencil notes and annotations.

The volume was rebacked in 1931. The new back has raised bands, blind tooling, and gold-tooled library stamp, shelfmark, and title which reads: 'REGISTRUM MONASTERII DE ABIRBROTHOC'. There is a brown silk bookmark, which is detached.

The manuscript was boxed in May-August 1965.

A gallotannic solution has been used on the recto and verso sides of folio 1, on the recto side of folio 2, and on the recto side of folio 124.

National Library of Scotland Catalogue of Manuscripts
National Library of Scotland Archives and Manuscripts Division
Description rules
International Standard for Archival Description - General
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the National Library of Scotland Archives and Manuscripts Division Repository

Archives and Manuscript Division
National Library of Scotland
George IV Bridge
Edinburgh EH1 1EJ
0131 623 3700