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Monday, 18 March, 2002, 09:17 GMT
Strict security for medieval book
Stirling Castle
The exhibition takes place at Stirling Castle
A medieval prayer book worth several million pound is set to return to Scotland for the first time in 500 years.

Strict security measures are in place to protect the historic book, which is being brought from its home in Austria.

It will have pride of place in an exhibition at Stirling Castle, which forms part of the Queen's Golden Jubilee celebrations.


We have similar manuscripts from the French court, which were made in Austria, but this is the most famous

Dr Ernst Gamillscheg
National Library of Austria
Valuable documents commemorating the treaty between Scotland's King James IV and England's Henry VII in 1502 will also be on show in the exhibition, entitled the Thistle and the Rose.

The treaty led to the 30-year-old Scottish king's marriage to Henry's 13-year-old daughter, Margaret.

The illuminated prayer book was given by James IV to his bride on the eve of their wedding.

It was decorated by some of the best known artists of the 16th century from the Ghent-Brugges School of Art in Belgium.

Experts have described it as "a unique and priceless treasure".

Alarmed cases

It is kept under strict security in Austria and nothing will be left to chance for its stay in Scotland.

The National Library of Austria has insisted that the book is insured for several million pounds and that there is a 24-hour watch placed on the artefact.

It will travel from Vienna to Stirling on Monday in the company of Dr Ernst Gamillscheg, the library's head conservator, and an insurance agent.

When it arrives in Stirling it will be held in specially made alarmed cases which are designed to provide the correct temperature and humidity levels.


The book is a beautiful work of art which the devout Margaret Tudor would have read every day to follow the Godly way as a queen

Barbara Fraser
Historic Scotland
Dr Gamillscheg said the prayer book was "among the most precious there is".

He said: "We have similar manuscripts from the French court, which were made in Austria, but this is the most famous."

He said that the Austrian authorities only loaned out the book in "exceptional circumstances".

"I believe it is the first time this document will return to Stirling since the marriage of James and Margaret, which is nice," said Dr Gamillscheg.

Historic Scotland spokeswoman Barbara Fraser said the organisation would take "the most stringent measures" to ensure the safety of the documents.

"The book is a beautiful work of art which the devout Margaret Tudor would have read every day to follow the Godly way as a queen," she said.

Treaty documents

The exhibition will also feature two manuscripts signed by the kings and a collection of artefacts relating to the treaty.

It only brought peace between Scotland and England for 11 years, but the marriage of James IV and Margaret Tudor brought their great-grandson James VI of Scotland to the throne of both countries a century later.

The original treaty documents are among the earliest examples of the thistle being used as an emblem of Scotland.

George Mackenzie, the Keeper of the Records at the National Archives of Scotland, said: "These artefacts are completely unique and offer an amazing insight into the life of James IV."

The exhibition will run from 20 March to 20 May.

See also:

14 Mar 02 | Scotland
Stirling elevated to city status
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