Historic Mary Queen of Scots documents found

Some important documents signed by Mary Queen of Scots have just been found at Museum of Edinburgh . They were gifted to the museum in 1920 and then ‘lost’ until recent work by curators to inventory and restore them.

They are handwritten, dated numbered and signed and reveal some interesting facts about Edinburgh in the 16th century.

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There are permits for London salt sellers allowing them to operate in Edinburgh and a permit to build a wall in Leith for the city’s defences.

Some documents are signed by Mary Queen of Scots and others by her husband James Hepburn, 4th Earl of Bothwell and her grandson, James Duke of Châtellerault. Mary married James Hepburn after the death of her husband Lord Darnley.

The documents are in safekeeping at the Museum of Edinburgh but are very fragile. They will be assessed by a conservator and hopefully they will be exhibited in due course.

Councillor Donald Wilson, Culture and Communities Convener at City of Edinburgh Council said “Museum & Galleries Edinburgh hold thousands of historic treasures on behalf of the City and its visitors, many of which are on display in our venues. However, some items, such as these documents, are too fragile to be on long-term display, so putting them online is a great way to showcase them and tell their stories.”

Vicky Garrington, History Curator at Museum of Edinburgh said: “The documents provide us with an amazing bridge to the past. It’s incredible to think of Mary Queen of Scots reading through these documents before carefully applying her signature. We all know the story of Scotland’s Queen, her eventful life and eventual execution, but in these documents, we see a different side to Mary. Here, she can be seen carefully managing the everyday affairs of Edinburgh and Scotland. These documents help us to better understand her reign”.

Frank Little, Service Manager, Cultural Venues, Museums & Galleries Edinburgh said: “Our hope is that ongoing inventory work within Museums & Galleries Edinburgh will turn up new treasures. We are constantly reviewing, caring for and researching our collections, and look forward to sharing more of the City’s rich heritage with residents and visitors through our programme of exhibitions and online activities.”

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