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Bible, Jardine family, Spedlins Tower, Lochmaben, c1548



It is likely that this 16th century Bible was from the local family church of the Jardines.

In 1536 a man called William Tyndale was executed for printing a Bible in English.  During the Reformation the Bible was translated into many European languages but it was still illegal to own or print an English version.  Tyndale's last words were reported to be "Lord, open the King of England's eyes!"  Only three years later, Henry VIII would fund the translation and printing of the first authorised Bible in English, partly based on Tyndale's work.

This copy of the Bible was printed in 1540 on cotton rag, not paper, which is why it survives so well.  The book is missing its decorative frontispiece which would show Henry VIII commissioning the translation of God's word into English.  The text flows from the King, through the clergy and nobility to the ordinary people. This meant that anyone who could read English could now read the bible for the first time.  Henry's chief minister Thomas Cromwell directed that the clergy make a copy of the bible available in their parish for the use of the people. 

It was rebound in suede in the late 18th or early 19th century.  At the same time the large margins were removed.  This has meant some of the marginalia, or notes have been lost. 

The Images:

Building the Tower of Babel (Genesis 11: 1-9).  Here the building of the tower is done using building techniques familiar to the artist in the 16th century.

Moses is shown with horns in this and other images in the Great Bible.  This comes from the Latin Vulgate translation of the Bible by St Jerome in 382AD where the Hebrew word karan has been translated "horned".  Modern translations use "shining" or "emitting rays", but the idea of Moses having horns persisted through the Renaissance and can be seen in art and sculpture of the period.

Moses and the manna from heaven.  In the book of Exodus (16:1-36) manna is described as being like frost on the ground and tasting like wafers made with honey.  The people are dressed in contemporary costume.

Moses receiving the Ten Commandments on Mount Sinai. (Exodus 20:1-17). 

David and Goliath (1 Samuel 17).  The figure of Goliath is portrayed in armour of the 16th century in Continental style. 

Joshua before the battle of Jericho (Joshua 6:1-27).  Like Goliath, Joshua is portrayed in contemporary armour.

There are also decorative capital letters.  The book has been created to look like a mediaeval manuscript which had richly painted or illuminated capital letters.  This was common in the first 100 years of printing.  There is also evidence of a printer's error which has been corrected by hand.

The ghost of Dunty Porteous 


James 'Dunty' Porteous was a miller, and the illegitimate son of Sir Alexander Jardine (1645 - 1689) of Spedlins Tower.  Legend has it that after an argument, Sir Alexander had Dunty locked up in a dungeon.  Sir Alexander travelled to Edinburgh on business and forgot he had the keys to the dungeon in his pocket.  Dunty Porteous starved to death and began to haunt the Tower.  A reading from the Bible was used to quiet the ghost.

We do not think this was the Bible that was used.

Dumfries Museum & Camera Obscura
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