Scotland's oldest book on display

Scotland's oldest surviving book - a pocket-size book of Psalms - has gone on display at the University Main Library.

An excerpt from Scotland's oldest book

The magnificent medieval psalter, which has been described as Scotland's version of the celebrated Book of Kells in Dublin, is being exhibited for the first time in a generation.

The pocket-sized book - dated to the 11th century and most likely produced at the monastery of Iona - is part of a display which opens on Friday, December 11 in the Library's newly refurbished Exhibition Room.

Extraordinary illuminations

Although the original binding has been lost, the script is bold and clear and it gives a text of the Psalms in Latin that can still be read today.

The book was probably commissioned for a figure of some importance, such as St. Margaret, Queen of Scotland.

Among the other attractions is the only copy in Scotland of the first book printed in any of the Gaelic languages.

The publication, which is a translation into Scottish Gaelic of John Knox's Book of Common Order, was printed in Edinburgh in 1567.

Other treasures

Also included is the finest surviving copy of Scotland's first substantial printed book, the Aberdeen Breviary - commissioned by William Elphinstone, Bishop of Aberdeen to give Scotland its own distinctive liturgy and printed in 1509-10.

Other exhibits include a copy of William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet - published during Shakespeare's lifetime - which was presented to the University by the poet William Drummond in 1626.

A beautifully illuminated manuscript of the works of the Roman poet Virgil, written in Paris in the first half of the 15th century, also features in the exhibition.

Additionally, visitors can see a commentary on the classic Chinese text Yi Jing (or Book of Changes) written by the scholar Hu Guang between 1412 and 1413 and printed in 1440 using block printing - several years before the invention of moveable metal type.

Masterpieces 1, runs from 11 December - 14 March 2010.

The exhibition is open 10am-5pm from Monday to Saturday and 12-5pm on Sunday. It is closed 19-20 Dec, 24 Dec-4 Jan and 9-10 Jan.