Thousands flock to see Mary Queen of Scots' last letter

Scotland's largest library has welcomed more than 1,000 visitors per day through its doors since Mary Queen of Scots' last letter went on display earlier this week.

They have been flocking to the National Library of Scotland in droves for a chance to see the 422-year-old manuscript, written just six hours before the monarch's execution.

The priceless letter went on public display on Tuesday (15 September) along with a number of other high profile literary and historic treasures, to mark the official opening of the library's new visitor centre.

An investment package of £2.24 million paved the way for the opening of the visitor centre, which makes the library more accessible and welcoming thanks to the dramatic transformation of its entrance area, expanded exhibition and events spaces, and the opening of a gift shop and café.

National Librarian Martyn Wade said: 'People have been pouring through our doors since we unveiled Mary Queen of Scots' last letter. One of our senior curators was saying that we haven't seen this many visitors since we put the Dead Sea Scrolls on display in the 1960s.

'It really is fantastic to see such passion and enthusiasm for this amazing piece of Scotland's history. It has also given people a chance to see our great new facilities which enhance the visitor experience considerably.'

To ensure its preservation, the letter is on display for seven days only - it is unknown if or when it will go on public display again, so his really could be a once-in-a-lifetime chance to see the original. There are just a few days left to see the historic document which is being showcased in the visitor centre until Monday September 21.

The letter is joined by 11 other literary treasures, all of which will remain on display until November 8, so if you don't get a chance to see the Mary Queen of Scots manuscript there are still plenty of reasons to visit the library

Amongst the other items - each a treasure in its own right - are the Gutenberg Bible, one of the first books ever printed with moveable type; the Forman Armorial (a reference book depicting coats of arms) compiled around 1562; the manuscript autobiography of philosopher, economist and historian David Hume as well as a display of 17th century silver bindings sitting alongside a more contemporary binding by artist Damien Hirst. The John Murray Archive exhibition will also be open. along with the 'Original Export' exhibition highlighting stories of Scottish emigration.


National Library of Scotland
George IV Bridge

Tel: 0131 623 3700


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17 September 2009

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