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13th-century manuscript of the chartulary of Melrose Abbey.

Identifier: Adv.MS.34.4.11

Scope and Contents

Chartulary compiled in Scotland containing copies of royal, papal, and episcopal charters of Melrose Abbey, which was founded as a Cistercian house in 1136.

The manuscript contains charters from the restoration of the Abbey by David I to the reign of Alexander III. Nearly all of the deeds are grants or confirmations of land. The charters are arranged in a roughly topographical order.

The work is multi-scribal, but it written by contemporaneous charter hands. Davis dates the manuscript to the second half of the 13th century, and Innes suggests that it can possibly be dated to the end of the reign of Alexander III (d. 1286), or to the period immediately after.

The manuscript does not contain all extant charters associated with Melrose, although there are some present of which the originals are no longer extant in other collections. There are many gaps and the volume is incomplete at the end. The charters rarely give details of the witnesses present and seldom include dates.

There are later pencil annotations in the margins, giving an indication of the provenance of each charter alongside the Bannatyne Club's printed edition. An 'O' next to a charter entry indicates that this is an 'original charter', presumably copied from the charter collection of the Earls of Morton. An 'M' next to an entry indicates that this entry is found in the chartulary of Melrose in the British Library collections. An 'X' followed by a number indicates the number of the charter as it appears in the Bannatyne Club edition. This designation is also explained on one of the front flyleaves of the volume.

Rubrics are given in red, and each charter has an initial of either red, green, or blue. Each folio recto and verso has been ruled. Pricking is evident in the gutter margin and occasionally on the outer margin. Many of the margins have been cut away, and several rectangular holes have also been cut in some leaves. There is evidence of contemporary and modern repairs to the vellum.

Scribal foliation is given in the top margin in Roman numerals, beginning 'VIII' on folio 1r, running to 'XLVIII' on folio 37r. On folio 38r the scribal foliation begins again with 'LI', missing 'LII' and 'LIII', and finishing 'LVIII' on folio 44r.


  • Creation: 2nd half of the 13th century.


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1 Volumes ; 25.4cm x 19cm x 3.5cm

Language of Materials



i-vii + 44 + viii-xi folios.

Collation as recorded by Catherine Borland:

a⁸, b¹⁰ (wants 5 and 6), c¹⁰, d⁹ (3 is inserted singly and 4,5,6,7 are wanting), e⁴ (wants 1,2,4,5), f³ (wants 4,5,6?, 2 is misplaced).

Custodial History

There are three inscriptions which possibly indicate ownership in 16th-century hands on folios 6v, 7r and 9r. These inscriptions make reference to a John Shaw, a Michael Shaw and an Alexander Shaw. The relationship of these individuals to the manuscript is, however, unclear.

The volume may once have been in the possession of Robert Scott of Knightspottie, Director of the Chancery (d. 1592). The recto of each folio contains his signature, occasionally flourised.

The manuscript was donated to the Faculty of Advocates Library in 1708 by Reverend Henry Malcolm, minsiter of Ballingry. This is recorded in a note on the recto side of folio i.

There are ownership inscriptions for the Library on folios ir and 1r. The previous shelfmark assigned to the manuscript by the Library is given on folio ir, 'A.5.47', since superseded.


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 537-540. NLS Reference: FR.198a/2.

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 237-238, number 1167.

'Folio Catalogue of Manuscripts: Chartularies' (Unpublished manuscript, Edinburgh [18??]), folio 46. NLS Reference: FR.189.

Innes, C. (ed.) 'Liber Sancte Marie de Melros', Bannatyne Club, 2 Volumes (Edinburgh, 1837)

Ross, A. 'The Bannatyne Club and the Publication of Scottish Ecclesiastical Cartularies', 'Scottish Historical Review', Volume 85, Number 220, Part 2 (October 2006), pages 202-230.

'Summary Catalogue of the Advocates' Manuscripts' (Edinburgh, 1971), page 16, number 158; page 106, number 1366.

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 11.

Physical Description


The binding is of 19th-century brown leather. The front and back boards have gold-tooled borders. The three edges of the boards and the turn-ins are tooled in gold. The volume was rebacked on the 9th of August 1937. The new back has raised bands and gold tooling for the library stamp, shelfmark, and title which reads: 'CARTUL. ABBAT. DE MELROS'.

The paper flyleaves have a variety of watermarks. One shows the initials and date 'R C 1808'. The other set of watermarks are a fleur-de-lis, countermarked with a heraldic shield quartered. The designs in the quarters are difficult to decipher, but one quarter depicts a fleur-de-lis.

National Library of Scotland Catalogue of Manuscripts
National Library of Scotland Archives and Manuscripts Division
Description rules
International Standard for Archival Description - General
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Repository Details

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

Archives and Manuscript Division
National Library of Scotland
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