Scotland's oldest book on show on 500th anniversary

Exhibition photo
An early printing press.

Scotland's oldest printed book with a date is on show today exactly 500 years after it was produced.

On 4 April 1508, The Complaint of the Black Knight came off a printing press in Edinburgh. John Lydgate's poem was produced by Scotland's first printers, Walter Chepman and Androw Myllar. It is the earliest surviving dated book printed in Scotland. Our copy is the only one known.

We are exhibiting the book in our George IV Bridge Building today (10.00-17.00) in celebration of the 500th anniversary of the birth of Scottish printing. It will make another rare outing from our collections in the summer, when it will be a highlight of our exhibition on the Scottish printed word.

Spread of printing website

As one of the 'Chepman and Myllar prints', The Complaint of the Black Knight is also included in a new web feature we have launched today. The Spread of Scottish Printing tracks the geographical progress of printing in Scotland between 1508 and 1900. You can read the full text of an early item printed on the first press in 33 different Scottish printing towns.

Events across Scotland

Other printing anniversary events taking place this week include the opening of exhibitions in Dundee, Glasgow and Kilmarnock. This morning a plaque will be unveiled in Edinburgh's Cowgate near the site of Chepman and Myllar's printing works. To see the full list of events in 2008, visit

For more on the anniversary, see our 500 years of Scottish printing media release.

3 April 2008

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