Treasures on display this winter

Ten artefacts on show to celebrate the end of the Year of Homecoming

The National Library of Scotland is showcasing a display of iconic Scottish treasures to mark the end of the Year of Homecoming, later this week.

The 10 treasures, some of which date back as early as the 16th century, will be on show within the Library's new exhibition space from 19 November to 8 January 2010. They will bring you as close as you can get to Scotland's rich culture and heritage and will provide the perfect climax to the Year of Homecoming.

The centre-piece of the collection is the signed order for the Massacre of Glencoe which is over 300 years old. This chilling document served as a mandate for one of the most infamous events in Scottish history, as the Campbells were ordered to attack their hosts, the MacDonalds, and 'putt all to the sword under seventy'.

'The Battle of Sherramuir', a hand-written poem by Robert Burns, will be on display for the first time since it was purchased for £30,000 earlier this year at auction in the USA, whilst 'The Adventure of the Illustrious Client' offers a rare glimpse of a Sherlock Holmes tale in the handwriting of his creator, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

Another highlight of the collection is the Forlani Map, which is thought to be the first printed map of Scotland on its own. Derived from a 1546 map of the British Isles, it is one of over two million maps held in the National Library of Scotland map library and reflects the best geographical knowledge of Scotland from the time. Still on maps, 'X' marks the spot for the copperplate map from Robert Louis Stevenson's 'Treasure Island', which was produced for the 1895 memorial 'Edinburgh edition' of the complete works of Stevenson, whilst visitors will also have the chance to see two copies of the National Covenant — one printed and one manuscript.

Martyn Wade, CEO of the National Library of Scotland, said: 'We are very excited to be celebrating the year of Homecoming by offering members of the public the opportunity to see this collection of priceless Scottish treasures. The collection has a wide appeal, with pieces from iconic Scottish literary figures in Burns, Conan Doyle, Scott and Stevenson, and from key moments and movements in the history of Scotland, including the Covenanters, the Jacobites, the Union of the Parliaments and, of course, the Massacre at Glencoe. I would encourage anyone interested in catching a glimpse of Scotland's history to visit the library this winter.'

The treasures will be on display from 19 November to 8 January. See below for full list of treasures on display.

  • The order for the Massacre of Glencoe
  • Forlani Map — believed to be the first printed map of Scotland on its own
  • 'The Lyon in Mourning' — Bishop Robert Forbes's collection of Jacobite papers
  • Designs for the Union flag
  • 'Waverley' manuscript by Walter Scott (1814)
  • Copperplate map of 'Treasure Island'
  • 'The Battle of Sherramuir' by Robert Burns
  • 'The Adventure of the Illustrious Client' by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
  • The National Covenant — printed and manuscript version
  • Alexander Stuart's 'Musick for Allan Ramsay's Collection of Scots songs'


National Library of Scotland
George IV Bridge

Tel: 0131 623 3700


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20 November 2009

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