1280 - The Murthly Hours

The Murthly Hours, written and illuminated in Paris in the 1280s, is the oldest book of hours associated with Scotland. A 'book of hours' was a new kind of prayer book for the use of lay people, and its emergence was partly a symptom of the expansion of secular literacy.

Additions to the manuscript prove that it was already in Scotland by the 15th century: obituary notices for Sir John Stuart, Lord of Lorne (who died in 1421), and his wife Isabella (who died in 1439) are written into its Calendar. Its ownership then passed to the Stewarts of Grandtully, owners of the lands of Murthly in Perthshire - which is why the manuscript is now known as 'The Murthly Hours'.

The most interesting and unusual additions are texts in Gaelic on the flyleaves. These include medical charms, and are very probably the second oldest texts in Gaelic that can be shown to have been written in Scotland.

See a complete digital facsimile (with commentary) of The Murthly Hours at www.nls.uk/digitallibrary/murthly.

Acquired by the National Library of Scotland in 1986 with assistance from the National Heritage Memorial Fund, the National Art Collections Fund, the Friends of the National Libraries, and private donors.
MS. 21000

The Murthly Hours


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