Archaeologists locate site of the ancient monastery where Scottish Gaelic “Book of Deer” was written

(via RTE) Archaeologists in Scotland believe they have located the site of a monastery where a renowned manuscript may have been written in the 10th century. The manuscript known as the Book of Deer, or Leabhar Dhèir, contains the oldest examples of written Gaelic in Scotland. The manuscript belongs to the same Irish monastic tradition as the Book of Kells. It contains the Gospel of St John in full, as well as extracts from the other gospels.

It is written primarily in Latin with notes in Gaelic in the margins. The Gaelic notes are believed to have been written in the 12th century.

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Book of Deer (image: Wikipedia)

The remains of the monastery are located 45km to the northeast of Aberdeen. Artefacts found at the site include a stone hearth, charcoal and pottery fragments.

 Máirín Ní Dhonnchadha, Professor of Old and Middle Irish in NUI Galway, said the Gaelic notes contain information on land grants made to the religious community. She added that the discovery of the site of monastery will lead to a greater understanding of its founding, possibly by St Columba, centuries before the manuscript was written.

The Book of Deer can be viewed on the website of Cambridge University Library, where it has been preserved since the 18th century.

In the medieval period, Gaelic was the dominant common language of Ireland and Scotland. Irish, Manx and Scots Gaelic diverged into different dialects of this common language in the 13th century.

(via RTE)

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