The manuscripts of the Declaration
The Dynamic Edition of the Declaration of Arbroath
- A Guide to using the Dynamic Edition of the Declaration
- Methodology for the new edition of the Declaration of Arbroath
- The manuscripts of the Declaration
- Translating the Declaration of Arbroath
- 'Dynamic' Symbols: An Aide-Memoire
- How to cite
John Reuben Davies introduces the manuscripts used for the dynamic edition of the Declaration of Arbroath, based on an account by Dauvit Broun. Links are provided to online images or catalogues of these manuscripts where some exist.
Version 1 MSS: The manuscripts which treat it as a stand-alone document.
O: The duplicate original single sheet (National Records of Scotland, SP13/7):
Single-sheet contemporary duplicate original. The ‘file copy’. 6 April 1320. This is the only version to survive in its original form. It was kept with the rest of the national records in Edinburgh Castle until the seventeenth century.
JH: Wolfenbüttel, Herzog August Bibliothek, Cod. Helmstedt 411, fols 6v–7v
Paper: 29.5com × 22cm. Dateable from the watermarks to the second quarter of the fifteenth century. Declaration copied into fols 6v–7v. The Codex was written between 1425 and 1445 during the time of James de Haldestone (1417–1443) as prior of St Andrews. Along with some other codices originating there, this manuscript was acquired by Marcus Wagner in 1553 on a trip to Scotland for Matthias Flacius Illyricus.
 M. Hartmann, Humanismus und Kirchenkritik. Matthias Flacius Illyricus als Erforscher des Mittelalters (Stuttgart, 2001), 64, 110.
Version 2 MSS: A dossier of documents that is found in some manuscripts that contain John of Fordun’s history of the Scottish people from their legendary origins to the death of David I in 1153.
Fordun completed this work sometime between 1384 and 1387. There is no reason to suppose that the dossier was part of the lost original manuscript of his work. It was probably added later (with other material). The surviving manuscripts that include the dossier are:
FD: Dublin, Trinity College MS 498, pp. 357–358
Paper: 27 × 20cm. The second section, in which the Declaration is found, and which is older than the first, may be dated to c. 1450 x c. 1465. It originally consisted of book V of Fordun’s history followed by the account of events from 1153–1363 printed by Skene as Gesta Annalia, followed by the dossier of documents beginning with the Declaration of Arbroath (with additionally King John of England’s submission to the papacy and the absolution of Robert I), and finally an incomplete copy of Vita Sancti Seruani. To this has been added at the beginning the ‘Book of Coupar Angus’ as far as near the end of book IV. Earlier ownership not known.
FG: London, British Library, Add. MS 37223, fols. 125r–126r
Parchment: 26 × 19.5cm. It has been dated palaeographically to ‘1450 or a little later’, or ‘probably in mid-15c’. The principal scribe was a ‘A. de Haliday’. Books I–V, and fifteen chapters of book VI, followed by a dossier of documents (beginning with the Declaration of Arbroath), and the full text of Gesta Annalia (extended to 1385). Earlier came into the possession of Henry Sinclair, bishop of Ross (1558–1565).
FA: Wolfenbüttel, Herzog August Bibliothek, Cod. Helmstedt 538, fols 140r–141r
Parchment: 23 × 15cm. It has been dated palaeographically to ‘1450 or a little later’. Books I–V, and fifteen chapters of book VI, followed by a dossier of documents (beginning with the Declaration of Arbroath), and the full text of Gesta Annalia (extended to 1385). It has evidently been copied from London, British Library, MS Add. 37223. There is an ex libris of St Andrews Cathedral Priory.
FC: Cambridge, Trinity College MS O. 9. 9, fols 1r–2r
Paper: 27.5 × 19.5cm. Fordun books I–V, a list of rubrics corresponding to Bower’s Scotichronicon, book VI, followed by a chapter from Scotichronicon, book V, on Alexander I and the foundation of Scone as an Augustinian priory and Henry I’s manumission of the English, 23 chapters of book VI (of which the first eight correspond to the first eight in book VI of Bower’s Scotichronicon, and the remaining fifteen are from Fordun’s incomplete book VI), ‘Gesta Annalia I’, a dossier of documents (beginning with the Declaration of Arbroath), and ‘Gesta Annalia II’ (extended to 1385). Presented to King’s College, Aberdeen, by Hector Boece, the college’s first Principal.
 R. J. Lyall, ‘Books and book owners in fifteenth-century Scotland’, in Book Production and Publishing in Britain 1375–1475, ed. Jeremy Griffiths and Derek Pearsall (Cambridge 1989), 239–56, at 254, note 13.
 Walter Bower: Scotichronicon, gen. ed. D. E. R. Watt, 9 vols (Aberdeen, 1987–1998), ix, 199.
 Lyall, ‘Books and book owners’, 254, note 13.
 Dauvit Broun, The Irish Identity of the Kingdom of the Scots in the Twelfth and Thirteenth Centuries (Woodbridge, 1999), 28 (referring to an unpublished paper by Donald Watt).
Version 3 MSS: Walter Bower’s Scotichronicon, written in the 1440s.
This is a much expanded version of Fordun’s history, with the addition of new material and an updating of the chronology to the assassination of James I in 1437. Bower evidently used a manuscript of Fordun’s history which also included the dossier of documents containing the Declaration of Arbroath. Instead of incorporating the dossier as it stood, however, he added each document separately in its appropriate chronological place. The Declaration of Arbroath therefore appears in book XIII in his account of events in 1320.
The surviving manuscripts of Bower’s Scotichronicon are:
C: Cambridge, Corpus Christi College MS 171B, fols 272r–273r
Paper from Vicenza, Italy, datable to 1429; written in 1440s. 29 × 21cm. This was Walter Bower’s own copy and was initially kept at Inchcolm Abbey.
R: London, British Library MS Royal 13 E X , fols 207v–208r
Parchment (several folios, perhaps ten, are lost): 44 × 29cm. Datable to 1447 × 1455. Copied from Cambridge, Corpus Christi College MS 171 (C); it has been described as an ‘eccentric production’. It belonged to Paisley Abbey in 1502.
D: Moray, Darnaway Castle, ‘Donibristle MS’
Parchment: 30.5 × 21cm. There is internal evidence for dating it to late 1471 × 1472. Copied from Cambridge, Corpus Christi College MS 171 (C). It was copied for Simon Finlay, a chaplain of St Giles church in Edinburgh. He was still alive in 1494 and bequeathed it to Inchcolm Abbey on his death.
B: Edinburgh, NRS MS GD45/26/48 (‘Brechin MS’)
Parchment: 38 × 27cm. There are colophons which show that it was copied by Magnus MacCulloch (Manus Mac Cullach or Mac Lulaich) in 1481, and rubricated by James Gray: a few years later both MacCulloch and Gray were in the household of William Schevez, archbishop of St Andrews (1478–1497). Copied from Darnaway Castle, ‘Donibristle MS’. There are inscriptions mentioning an unnamed bishop of Aberdeen. There is some indication that it was once kept at Scone Abbey.
H: London, British Library MS Harleian 712, fols 214v–215r
Paper: 36 × 27.5cm. Colophons show that it was copied by Magnus MacCulloch in 1483/4. An eclectic text, showing influence from Cambridge, Corpus Christi College MS 171 (C) and Darnaway Castle, ‘Donibristle MS’ (D). Owned by William Schevez, archbishop of St Andrews (1478–1497).
E: Edinburgh, Edinburgh University Library MS 186, fols 246v–247v
Parchment: 41 × 25cm. A colophon shows that it was finished on 15 May 1510. Shares some distinctive features with Cambridge, Corpus Christi College MS 171 (C) but appears to have been largely derived from Darnaway Castle, ‘Donibristle MS’ (D) (or a manuscript like it). It was copied by Robert Scot for a secular canon, John Walker, who may have been the same as John Walker who was dean of Christianity of Nith (diocese of Glasgow).
 Scotichronicon, ed. Watt, ix, 149.
 Scotichronicon, ed. Watt, ix, 210–12.
 The last pope to be listed is Nicholas V (19 March 1447 to 24 March 1455).
 Scotichronicon, ed. Watt, ix, 187.
 Scotichronicon, ed. Watt, ix, 186.
 Sixtus IV (consecrated 25 August 1471) is added to the list of popes by the text hand in different ink, and St Andrews is listed as a bishopric, and then corrected as an archbishopric (a change that authorised in a bull dated 17 August 1472): Scotichronicon, ed. Watt, ix, 187.
 Scotichronicon, ed. Watt, ix, 190–1, for Magnus MacCulloch and James Gray.
 R. J. Lyall, ‘The medieval Scottish coronation service: some seventeenth-century evidence’, Innes Review 28 (1977), 3–21, at 12–13.
Version 4 MSS: Bower in 40-books and its derivatives. This context is based on Bower's 40-book history, and those histories which derived from it.
While Walter Bower was working on his Scotichronicon in the 1440s, he also produced another large-scale account of Scottish history, divided into smaller books and with a greater chronological consistency than Scotichronicon itself. It has never been published. The only near-complete manuscript is known as the ‘Book of Coupar Angus’ because its first known owner was Coupar Angus Abbey. Here the Declaration of Arbroath is found in the course of the account of 1320.
The surviving manuscripts of the ‘Book of Coupar Angus’, either nearly complete, or of the section containing the Declaration of Arbroath, are:
CA: Edinburgh, NLS, MS Adv. 35.1.7, pp. 345–346
Paper: 38 × 26cm. Datable from watermarks to sometime between about 1450 and 1480. Owned by Coupar Angus Abbey (Cistercian). The work that occupies this manuscript is known as the ‘Book of Coupar Angus’, and was written by Walter Bower. The work survives in part in two manuscripts that also include Fordun’s history.
FF: Aberdeen, Aberdeen University Library, SCA MS MM2/1
Parchment: 33 × 23cm. The first section (Books I-V) may be dated on palaeographical grounds to the last quarter of the fifteenth century. The addition is dated 1509. Originally Fordun books I–V, to which has been added (beginning with a new gathering) a slightly abbreviated version of the ‘Book of Coupar Angus’, beginning at book IX. Inscribed 'Ex Libris Scots College Paris', and 'Ex dono - Jacobi Comitis de Drummond An Dom 1694' (fol. 1); also 'Explicit liber cronic' anno dni 1509' (fol. 199v); 'Magister Robertus fournier, 1567' (fol. 108); 'Ludovicus Fournier' (fol. 143v).
The text of the ‘Book of Coupar Angus’.was then worked on by Patrick Russell, prior of the Charterhouse of Perth. His work can be dated to the reign of James III (1460–1488). He included the Declaration of Arbroath in the same place as it is found in the ‘Book of Coupar Angus’ (the fifth context). His work survives intact in only one manuscript:
P: Edinburgh, NLS, MS Adv. 35.6.7, fols 232r–233v
Paper (with parchment in the binding): 21 × 14cm. Datable from watermarks to around 1480. The work that comprises this manuscript is described in its preface as an abbreviated version of Bower’s Scotichronicon; it appears, however, to have been derived from the ‘Book of Coupar Angus’. It is in twelve books, and includes two additional epitaphs of James I, as well as Bower’s. It is stated to be by a monk of the Charterhouse in Perth, writing for his fellow monks; in a later copy the author is identified as Patrick Russell (who was prior in 1443 and probably also 1472–1474). In the account of the descendants of Robert I corresponding to Scotichronicon, book XI chapter 13, and the ‘Book of Coupar Angus’, book XVII chapter 21, James III rather than James II is mentioned as the most recent king. This suggests that the work can be dated to his reign (1460–1488). The work survives in part in a manuscript that includes Fordun’s history. No indication of who initially owned it has been noted.
Finally, part of Patrick Russell’s work was abbreviated by Richard Striveling sometime between 1497 and 1515. He included the Declaration of Arbroath in the same place as it is found in Patrick Russell’s history. Again, his work survives in only one manuscript:
FE: London, British Library MS Harley 4764, fols 166r–167v
Parchment: 32 × 23cm. The first section (Books I–V) may be dated on palaeographical grounds to the third quarter of the fifteenth century. The second section may be dated to 1497 × 1515. Originally Fordun books I–V, to which has been added (beginning with a new gathering) an abbreviation by Richard Striveling of Patrick Russell’s abridgement the ‘Book of Coupar Angus’. Richard Striveling produced his abbreviation for George Broun, bishop of Dunkeld (1497–1515). If this is the original manuscript, then its first owner was presumably George Broun.
 Scotichronicon, ed. Watt, ix, 193.
 Broun, The Irish Identity, 25.
 Edited and translated in Scotichronicon, ed. Watt, ix, 128–33.
 Scotichronicon, ed. Watt, ix, 197; The Heads of Religious Housesin Scotland from Twelfth to Sixteenth Centuries, ed. D. E. R. Watt and N. F. Shead (Edinburgh 2001),174, 175.
 Scotichronicon, ed. Watt, vol. vi, ed. & trans. Norman F. Shead, Wendy B. Stevenson and D. E. R. Watt, with others (Aberdeen 1991), 36 note j.
 Broun, The Irish Identity, 25.
Version 5 & 6 MSS: The 'Book of Pluscarden', completed in 1461.
'The Book of Pluscarden' is a rewriting of Bower’s Scotichronicon, completed in 1461. It is known as the ‘Book of Pluscarden’ because a manuscript of this work was referred to by George Buchanan in his history of Scotland (published in 1582) as ‘the book of Plucarden priory’. The author has not yet been convincingly identified.
In book VIII of the work he added a copy of the Declaration of Arbroath, probably from a copy of the dossier (i.e., the first context), into the copy of other documents from the dossier that Bower had placed in the year 1301.
In book IX, the Declaration appears during the account of 1320: it has been derived from a manuscript of Bower’s Scotichronicon (i.e., the second context) – presumably from the same manuscript that the author of the ‘Book of Pluscarden’ used as the basis for his work overall.
There are five surviving Latin manuscripts of the Book of Pluscarden.
PC: Glasgow, University Library MS Gen. 333
Paper. Eight stocks of paper have been identified by Lyall, who suggested that this ‘points with remarkable consistency to date around 1478–80’. The manuscript may therefore be dated to sometime in the 1480s. It was produced by several scribes at Dunfermline Abbey on the instruction of Thomas Monimail, the sacrist. It gives the version of the text dated internally to 1461. It was written for William Schevez, archbishop of St Andrews (1478–1497).
PD: Oxford, Bodleian MS Fairfax 8, fols 155r–v
Paper: 28 × 21cm. Documents have been added at various times (the earliest is dated 1491), including a protest in 1525 by the prior and monks of Dunfermline against a sentence of excommunication. This gives the version of the text updated internally to 1489, with sections in Scots in book XI. A note on fol.120v, the Dunfermline document of 1525, and the passing of the manuscript into the hands of the earl of Dunfermline (who gifted it to Colonel Fairfax), suggest that the manuscript was produced and initially kept at Dunfermline Abbey.
PA: Glasgow, Mitchell Library MS 308876, fols 178v–180r
Paper, with parchment outer bifolium of each gathering: ??cm. Sometime after 1491 (see below). This gives the version of the text updated internally to 1489, with a preface and prologue: it was copied (or derived from) Oxford, Bodleian MS Fairfax 8 (D), including the copy of an appeal by the University of Paris to the pope dated 1491. Felix Skene suggested that ‘Lioin Albinie’ on the first page could indicate that it once belonged to a Lyon King of Arms before passing to Montjoie Roi d’Armes in France (where it may have been used for a translation of the work into French, dated 1519: Paris, Bibliothèque de Sainte-Geneviève MS 936), and then to Linlithgow, being gifted (probably sometime after 1543) to Newbattle Abbey.
PB: Brussels, KBR (formerly Bibliothèque royale / Koninklijke Bibliotheek) MS 7396, fols 167v–169r
Paper: 26 × 19cm. No earlier than 1491. Very closely related to Glasgow, Mitchell Library MS 308876 (‘Marchmont MS’) (A), sharing the same preface and prologue. On the verso of the first leaf it is stated that the manuscript was made in Edinburgh for a ‘M. Grote’, and that it now belongs to ‘David Dowtillz’.
PE: Edinburgh, NLS MS Adv. 35.5.2, fols 110r–v
Paper: 25.5 × 18.5cm. French, early sixteenth century. A copy of (or closely derived from) Glasgow, University Library MS Gen. 333 (C). Early provenance not known.
 Lyall, ‘Books and book owners, 247 and 255 note 36.
 Skene read ‘Albinic’; the correct reading is noted by Murray Andrew Lucas Tod, ‘The Narrative of the Scottish Nation and its Late-Medieval Readers’, unpublished PhD thesis (University of Glasgow, 2005), 37.
 Liber Pluscardensis, ed. Felix. H. Skene, 2 vols (Edinburgh, 1877–80), I, xi–xvi, xvii.
 Tod, ‘The Narrative’, 39.
 Tod, ‘The Narrative’, 46.