SNP claims ancient scroll from Cambridge

November 22, 1996

IN THE WAKE of the triumphant return to Scotland of the Stone of Destiny, the Scottish National Party is demanding the restoration of an ancient manuscript held by Cambridge University.

The university would not comment on the SNP's claim, but it issued a description of the manuscript which varied somewhat from the SNP account.

The SNP describes the manuscript as a lavishly illustrated land registry, effectively a cross between the Domesday Book and the Book of Kells. Party leader Alex Salmond said it was "pinched" by the English, probably in 1296, the same year that the Stone of Destiny was removed from Scone. Mr Salmond was this week set to table a Commons motion, calling for the manuscript to be returned to the Aberdeenshire parish of Deer, in the heart of his Banff and Buchan constituency.

But Cambridge insists it is not known where the Book of Deer, which it describes as an illustrated Gospel book, was produced. The university's department of manuscripts says it is thought to date from the 9th or 10th century, although it concedes that 12th-century additions, some of them in Gaelic, suggest that it was housed at that point in "an ecclesiastical or monastic foundation" at Deer.

A spokesman said that "it forms part of the Royal Library, a substantial collection of books and manuscripts assembled by John Moore, Bishop of Ely, and given to the University of Cambridge by King George I in 1715".

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