Medieval illuminated manuscript

This is a fragment of hand-written church music. It was used by the monks at Soulseat Abbey near Stranraer during the Middle Ages. The fragment is a single sheet of vellum – a piece of treated animal skin or parchment used instead of paper. Both sides contain lines of music with text beneath. Many church objects were destroyed or reused during the Reformation. That was certainly the case with this manuscript page which was recycled in the 1580s and used as the cover on a book owned by James Glover of Stranraer. The manuscript has been studied by Stephen Atkins, an expert in medieval church music, and shown to be part of a special chant used in one of the Easter services. This chant was used mainly by the Premonstratensian order who held Soulseat Abbey at Stranraer and it is likely that this is where the manuscript came from. Soulseat Abbey was established by Fergus of Galloway in 1148. It was completely demolished during the sixteenth century. This is a rare survival of Scottish medieval church music and we are lucky that James Glover decided to reuse it as a book cover and so accidentally save it for posterity.
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Dumfries & Galloway Council
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