Scandinavian collections

Norwegian landscape watercolour
Campbell of Islay's painting of
Skaas Tinde, Norway, 1849.
View larger painting

We have a significant collection of modern material in the humanities covering:

  • Denmark
  • Norway
  • Sweden.

We have a much smaller number of works relating to the Faroe Islands, Finland and Iceland (apart from the sagas).

Throughout the 1960s and 1970s we bought Scandinavian material on a regular basis. The Library suspended Scandinavian book-buying in 1995 due to financial constraints. However we still subscribe to a number of serials.

We also receive British publications on Scandinavian topics through our legal deposit privilege.


Non-current material and special collections

The cornerstone of our Scandinavian collections is the Thorkelin Collection, formally owned by Icelandic scholar Grimur Thorkelin. The collection contains around 1500 books on subjects such as:

  • History
  • Language
  • Law
  • Medicine
  • Topography.

It is also rich in early printings of the Icelandic sagas and includes some rare 16th-century Danish books. The Library's forerunner — the Advocates Library — obtained the Thorkelin Collection in 1819.

See our Special and Named Printed Collections for more information.


Microform collections

We have two Scandinavian microform collections:

  • The 'Scandinavian Culture Series': 479 microfilm reels of 15th-17th century imprints.
  • The 'Samfund til Udgivelse af Gamel Nordisk Literatur': Around 300 microfiche illustrating the linguistic development of the Scandinavian languages.


Mountaineering and polar and manuscript collections

Our mountaineering and polar collections feature material on mountains, mountaineering, polar exploration and travel relating to Scandinavia and Greenland. You will also find a certain amount of material relating to Scandinavia in our manuscript collections. We have around 100 Icelandic paper manuscripts.


Map collections

To see our map collections of all the Scandinavian countries, the Faroe Islands, Iceland and Greenland, visit our Map Library.



For more information about our Scandinavian collections email Foreign Collections.


Foreign Collections main page


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