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Mediaeval Illuminated Manuscript

This is how music looks when it is written out on paper. This is the oldest church music in Scotland. It is 600 years old.

Mediaeval Illuminated Manuscript
  • Illuminated manuscript
  • 15th century
  • Soulseat Abbey, Inch, Wigtownshire
  • This is one of the earliest surviving pieces of church music in Scotland. It was written for a special Good Friday service.

This sheet of parchment is part of a medieval musical manuscript. It probably dates from the early 16th century. It contains the words and music for a psalm sung during a special service on Good Friday morning. This was one of the most important days in the medieval church calendar.

The manuscript is likely to have been made and used by the monks at the Premonstratensian Abbey at Soulseat near Stranraer. The abbey was founded by Fergus, Lord of Galloway, in 1148 but was completely destroyed after the Reformation.

Very few examples of Scottish medieval church music have survived. This piece was found reused as the cover of a book containing old town records from Stranraer. The outer side of the parchment is now very dirty but the inner face, shown here, is in good condition and the colours are remarkably fresh.

In the collection of Stranraer Museum.

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