1568 - First Scottish medical book

The only known copy of the first medical book printed in Scotland - the earliest therefore in a long tradition of Scottish medical books. It describes the plague that broke out in Edinburgh in 1568. Although there are references to hygiene, at this date 'the principal preservative cure of the pest is, to returne to God'.

This book was a serious attempt to provide advice on avoiding infection and on its treatment, with the inclusion of many prescriptions. To achieve this purpose, the bulk of the book is in Scots, although the prescriptions have remained in Latin.

The author was Gilbert Skeyne (c. 1522-1599). He was born and brought up in Aberdeen where he was appointed to teach medicine at King's College in 1556. It was in 1568, while in Aberdeen, that he published his book, although it was printed in Edinburgh - perhaps because there was no printer in Aberdeen at the time. In 1575 he moved to Edinburgh, and in 1581 became Physician to King James VI.

Gilbert Skeyne. Ane breve descriptioun of the pest quhair in the causis, signis and sum speciall preservatioun and cure thairof ar contenit. Edinburgh: Robert Lekprevik, 1568. H.33.d.41

First Scottish medical book


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