The History of Leith

March 9, 2007

Historical treasure secured for Scotland


A priceless collection of historical documents has been secured for Scotland, it was announced today.

The Dalhousie papers cover 900 years of Scotland’s history and its people, and how Scots have influenced the wider world.

The Executive and the National Heritage Memorial Fund – the fund of last resort for the UK’s heritage coming to the rescue to fund emergency acquisitions – are both contributing £800,000 each towards the total cost of securing the collection for the National Archives of Scotland.

Culture Minister Patricia Ferguson said:

“Securing this collection will enhance the national, international, cultural and educational reputation and image of Scotland.

“The Dalhousie papers are of outstanding importance to the history of this country covering nearly 900 years of Scottish history.

“I’m also pleased that the National Archives of Scotland will be using the latest digital technology to open this collection to an ever widening public, both at home and abroad.”

George MacKenzie, Keeper of the Records of Scotland said:

“This wonderful news has secured the long-term future of this marvellous collection. We are grateful that the Dalhousie family offered us the first chance to acquire the collection when they decided to sell it.

“The Dalhousie papers have been extensively used by readers since they were first loaned to us, and now that they have been acquired for the nation we will be working to make them even more widely available”.

Stephen Johnson, Head of the National Heritage Memorial Fund said:

“This archive contains a wealth of information, not only giving an insight into Scotland’s history, but also the history of the British Empire and wider Commonwealth.

“We’re delighted we’ve been able to join forces to make sure this collection remains available for future generations to learn from and enjoy.”

The £800,000 of Executive funding earmarked for the National Archives of Scotland is a one-off allocation from central resources.

The National Archives of Scotland is an agency of the Scottish Executive, which selects, preserves, and makes available the national archives of Scotland, and is a centre of expertise on record keeping and archives.

The National Heritage Memorial Fund (NHMF) is the fund of last resort for the UK’s heritage coming to the rescue to fund emergency acquisitions. It currently receives an annual income of £5 million from the UK Government. In recognition of the vital role it plays and to help meet an increasing numbers of applications, the UK government will be doubling NHMF’s income to £10million from April 1, 2007. The demand for support from the NHMF continues to far outstrip its resources, but this significant increase will extend its support for the UK’s most precious heritage of which the Dalhousie Archive is a prime example.

Highlights from the large quantity of Dalhousie papers include:

The earliest Scottish charter still in Scotland, made about 1127 by King David I, part of the monastic charters for Holyrood
A manuscript of Scotichronicon, a 15th century history of Scotland, is unique for its illuminated initial letters and additional notes
A manuscript history of Norway, Historia Norvegiae, copied in Scotland in 1510, contains the earliest surviving account of the Norse settlement of Orkney and reports a myth that the Picts built towns morning and evening but hid in underground chambers at midday
Papers on the Darien expedition of the 1690s and the Jacobite rebellion of 1715
The papers of General John Forbes who fought in the American War (1757-63) include seven letters from George Washington
The papers of the 9th Earl of Dalhousie as Governor in Chief of Canada (1820-1828) and C-in-C in India (1829-32) and of the 10th Earl, who was Governor General of India, 1845-56
The papers of Fox Maule as Secretary for War (1855-8) covering the Crimean War, including remarkable letters from Florence Nightingale

source-Scottish Executive

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