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A Team Of Archaeologists In Scotland Recently Found A Long-Lost Ancient Monastery, Known As The Monastery Of Deer, Where The Oldest Surviving Scottish Manuscript Was Written

Colin & Linda McKie - stock.adobe.com - illustrative purposes only

In northeastern Scotland, a long-lost ancient monastery was found by a team of archaeologists co-led by a researcher named Alice Jaspars from the University of Southampton. The site of the Monastery of Deer is located near the village of Mintlaw in Aberdeenshire.

Evidence of the monastery was discovered in a field not far from the remains of Deer Abbey, which was founded in 1219. The precise age of the Monastery of Deer is unclear, but it is older than the abbey.

It is believed that the earliest written record of Scots Gaelic was produced in the monastery during the late eleventh and early twelfth centuries, making the find a historically significant one.

The Gaelic texts, some of which consisted of land grants, were added in the margins of the Book of Deer, a small manuscript known as a “pocket gospel book.”

The book was originally written in Latin between 850 A.D. and 1000 A.D. and included illustrations.

Experts don’t know where the Book of Deer was created, but they have long speculated that the entries in Gaelic, or addenda, were made around the eleventh century while the book was in the monastery, which they now know was exactly the case.

Additionally, it is unknown when the monastery was abandoned. Other than the land grants in the Book of Deer, there was no other sign of its existence. In 1715, the manuscript mysteriously fell into the hands of the Cambridge University Library in southern England.

The addenda in the book, along with other land grants in northeastern Scotland, references the monastery’s foundation, which eventually led researchers to the correct site.

In 2022, excavations were conducted in a field about 250 feet from Deer Abbey, uncovering holes in the ground that indicated a structure had once stood in that very spot.

Colin & Linda McKie – stock.adobe.com – illustrative purposes only

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