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14th-century manuscript of the chartulary of Balmerino Abbey.

Identifier: Adv.MS.34.5.3

Scope and Contents

Manuscript produced in Scotland, probably in the first half of the 14th century. Davis has dated the work to some time after 1331 with some later additions.

The work was written for use of the Cistercian Abbey of Balmerino, founded circa 1227 and dissolved in 1603.

The chartulary is arranged into two sections. Folios 1r-20r contain royal and other charters; folios 21v-27v contain papal privileges to the abbey and Cistercian Order.

The work is multi-scribal with a few different contemporary hands in evidence.

The decoration consists of charter rubrics in red and capitals stroked with red.

There are inscriptions in later hands on the verso of folio 28. One of these inscriptions is in Scots and reads: 'Sext martii 1577. This buke contenis twenty-sax levis and ane half leif'.

There are further later inscriptions on both sides of folio 29 which are repetitions of parts of the colophon.

Each folio has been lined and ruled recto and verso.

There is also evidence of contemporary repairs to the vellum.

An early foliation, possibly 16th-century, is occasionally visible in the upper right corner, but this is often cropped. There are two sets of pencil foliation, one in the centre of the upper margin and one in the upper right hand corner. The foliation in the centre margin is incorrect and should be disregarded.

The inner pastedowns have marginal annotations in a later hand, possibly of the 17th century.

A full list of the charters can be found in the Abbotsford Club edition and the Syllabus edited by Hammond.


  • Creation: 14th century, after 1331.


Language of Materials

Most content is in Latin, with an inscription in Scots on folio 28v.

Conditions Governing Access

Normal access conditions apply.

Conditions Governing Use

Normal reproduction conditions apply, subject to any copyright restrictions.


1 Volumes ; 21cm x 14.2cm x 4cm


i-iii + 29 + iv folios, as well as 45 blank paper leaves to the front, and 46 blank paper leaves to the rear. The pastedowns on the front and back boards are numbered 'i' and 'iv', respectively.

Collation as recorded by Catherine Borland: a¹⁰, b⁴ (inserted after a²), b¹ (mended), c⁸ (6 is only a half folio), d⁶ (6 and 8 have been cut out).

Custodial History

In the 15th century the manuscript was apparently present at Balmerino Abbey as attested to by a colophon on folio 28r which reads: 'Liber Sancte Marie de Balmorinach qui eum alienaverit sit ip[s]e alienat[us] a Regno Dei. Scriptum e[st] hoc per fr[atr]em Laurenciu[m] p[re]d[i]c[t]i loci anno Domini M CCCC sexto Amen.' This inscription is partly repeated on folio 29v.

The manuscript was owned by Sir James Balfour, as is evident from the Denmilne number, 44, present on the recto side of folio ii. Balfour's device is also present on the verso side of folio 28.

The work was listed in Balfour's sale catalogue of 1698, and was probably acquired by the Library of the Faculty of Advocates at this time.

The recto side of folio iii contains an inscription which reads: 'Ex Libris Bibliotheca Facultatis Juridica Edinburgi'. The recto side of folio 1 has an inscription in the gutter margin which reads: 'Lib: Bibl: Fac: Jur: Edinb:'.

The previous shelfmark assigned to the volume by the Library of the Faculty of Advocates, now superseded, is present on the recto sides of folios ii and iii: 'A.5.27'.

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

18th century transcript in Adv.MS.35.3.13.

16th century transcript in Adv.MS.33.2.5.

Transcript in Adv.MS.9A.2.4, folio 320.


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 488-490. NLS Reference: FR.198a/2.

'A catalogue of curious manuscripts, being historical, political, theological, juridical, physical, and philosophical, with some poets and orators, their writings, ancient and modern. Collected by Sir James Balfour of Kinaird Knight-Baronet, and Lyon King at Arms, kept in his Famous Study of Denmilne: and now exposed to sale.' (Edinburgh, 1698), page 7.

Cunningham, I. C. 'Medieval Cartularies of Great Britain: amendments and additions to the Scottish section of Davis', in 'Monastic Research Bulletin', 3 (1997), pages 1-6.

Cunningham, I. C. 'Sir James Balfour's Manuscript Collection: The 1698 Catalogue and other sources', in 'Edinburgh Bibliographical Society Transactions', Volume VI, Part 6 (2004), pages 191-255; here page 201, number 3.

Davis, G. R. C. (ed.). 'Medieval Cartularies of Great Britain and Ireland. Revised by Claire Breay, Julian Harrison, and David M. Smith' (London, 2010), page 229, number 1124.

'Folio Catalogue of Manuscripts: Chartularies' (Unpublished manuscript, Edinburgh [18??]), folio 13. NLS Reference: FR.189.

Hammond, M. H. 'Syllabus of Scottish Cartularies: Balmerino'. Available online:

'Summary Catalogue of the Advocates' Manuscripts' (Edinburgh, 1971), page 15, number 144; page 107, number 1373.

Turnbull, W. B. D. D. (ed.) 'The Chartularies of Balmerino and Lindores: Now First Printed from the Original MSS. in the Library of the Faculty of Advocates' Abbotsford Club (Edinburgh, 1841).

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 4.

Physical Description


The binding is 17th-century smooth brown leather covering cardboard. The front and back boards have blind-tooled borders. There is also evidence of blind tooling on the edges of the boards and on the tail end of the spine, however these are very worn. Cords and sewing stations are visible on the inner boards, as are the leather turn-ins. The spine has remnants of a library sticker at the tail end. The pastedowns of the boards appear to be parts of chapters three and four of a printed translation of Aristotle by William of Moerbeke.

There are many blank paper endleaves, probably 17th-century. The paper endleaves bear no watermark with a date, but a few sheets do show a watermark of grapes.

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

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

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