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The Gaelic Notes in the Book of Deer

Author: unknown

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Kenneth Jackson

Electronic edition compiled by Beatrix Färber

Funded by University College, Cork and
Professor Marianne McDonald via the CELT Project

2. Second draft

Extent of text: 3200 words


CELT: Corpus of Electronic Texts: a project of University College, Cork
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(2001) (2010)

Distributed by CELT online at University College, Cork, Ireland.
Text ID Number: G102007

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This extract is reproduced online with kind permission of Cambridge University Press. Hardcopy copyright lies with Cambridge University Press.


    Manuscript sources
  1. Cambridge University Library, MS. I.i.6.32, a small octavo of 43 folios.
  1. Whitley Stokes, Godilica, or Notes on the Gaelic Manuscripts preserved at Turin, etc. Calcutta 1866, 47–63. Introduction, texts, translations, linguistic discussion and glossarial index.
  2. Cosmo Innes, Facsimiles of the National Library of Scotland, 1, Southampthon 1867, nos. 1 and 18. Discussions, texts, translations and facsimiles; some readings/translations incorrect.
  3. J. Stuart, The Book of Deer, Edinburgh, The Spalding Club, 1869, clxix =95 pp. and 22 plates. Discussion of entire MS, with edition of the entire Latin Gospel texts and Gaelic notes, with translation and facsimilies of the illuminated pages, the Gaelic texts, and some of the Gospels. Introduction. Translations taken from Stokes, with a few minor modifications.
  4. Whitley Stokes, Godelica; Old and Early Middle Irish Glosses, Prose, and Verse, London 1872, pp. 106–121, a reprint of No. 1, with small changes.
  5. Alexander MacBain, 'The Book of Deer', Transactions of the Gaelic Society of Inverness, 11 (1885) 137–166. Introduction, texts and literal translations, historical and linguistic notes, glossary-index. A number of improvements on Stokes' texts (contractions italicised) and translations, some deteriorations and a few misprints.
  1. Saturday Review, 8 December 1860, 734f. with commentary and the Latin text of no.VII (David I's Charter) but not the Gaelic texts. Unsigned. Probably written by Whitley Stokes.
  2. A. O Anderson, Early Sources of Scottish History, A.D. 500–1286, II (Edinburgh 1922) 174–83. Fresh translations, with valuable historial notes. A few mistranslations, and the treatment of a number of names is still unsatisfactory.
    Articles and other secondary literature
  1. Cosmo Innes, Scotland in the Middle Ages (Edinburgh, 1860) pp. 321–325. This postscript to the book mentions the discovery of the MS and contains a translation of text no. 1 and of one or two other sentences. Some names are misread, some translations are inaccurate;the source of the translations is not stated.
  2. John Strachan, The Study of Scottish Gaelic, in: Transactions of the Gaelic Society of Inverness 19 (1893), 13ff. Edition and discussion of part no. 1, pp. 15–20.
  3. Joseph Robertson, Illustrations of the Topography and Antiquities of the Shires of Aberdeen and Banff, IV, 545–550 (Aberdeen, the Spalding Club, vol. 32, 1862). Reprint of Stokes' translation, 'with a few verbal alterations', and the text of no. VII.
  4. T. O. Russell, 'The Book of Dier', in: Celtica 1 (March 1901), 43f. Texts based on Stokes, containing a number of extra errors or misprints, and inaccurate translations.
  5. R. S. Kemp, 'The Book of Deer', in: Transactions of the Scottish Ecclesiological Society 8 (1925), 164ff. Discussion, but not texts/translations.
  6. Donald Mackay, 'New Light on the Book of Deer', in: Scotish Gaelic Studies 5 (1938), 50. A brief note on an early reference to the MS.
  7. J. Fraser, 'The Gaelic Notitiae in the Book of Deer', in: Scottish Gaelic Studies 5 (1938), 51–66. Texts from photostats of the originals; translation and some valuable textual and linguistic notes. The translations are the best yet published. In the texts there are some curious misreadings or misprints, chiefly where no-one has misread the MS before.
  8. Kenneth Jackson, 'Some remarks on the Gaelic Notitiae in the Book of Deer', in: Ériu 16 (1952), 86–98. Notes on the spelling, language, and date.
  9. A. Lawrie, Early Scottish Charters prior to 1153 (Glasgow, 1905), nos. 1, 95, 97, 107, 223, and pp. 219ff., 337ff., 346ff., 424ff. Translations (sometimes incorrect, with misreadings of some names), and notes.
  10. W. J. Watson, Rosg Gà;idhlig (2nd ed., Glasgow, 1929), pp. 184–92 and 249–251; texts (including no. VII), translations into Scottish Gaelic, a few notes, and facsimiles of fos. 3a and 3b. The texts were the best so far, but include some errors.
  11. J. F. Tocher (ed), The Book of Buchan (Peterhead, The Buchan Club, 1910), pp. 106–114. Text and tranlsations from J. Stuart; facsimile of fo. 3a; some commentary.
  12. G.W. S. Barrow, in: Scottish Studies 6 131ff. Discusses land-holding units like 'dabhach'.
    The edition used in the digital edition
  1. The Gaelic Notes in the Book of Deer (The Osborn Bergin Memorial Lecture 1970). Kenneth Jackson (ed), First editionCambridge University PressCambridge (1972)


Project Description

CELT: Corpus of Electronic Texts

Sampling Declaration

The present text represents pages 30–36 of the volume.

Editorial Declaration


Text has been checked and proofread twice. All corrections and supplied text are tagged.


When a hyphenated word (hard or soft) crosses a page break, the break is marked after the completion of the hyphenated word.


div0=the charters; div1=the section, comprising Irish text and English translation; each section being subdivided into div2s comprising the individual texts; page-breaks are marked.


Personal names and place names have not been tagged.

The acute accent represents long vowels and has been added by Jackson. The acute accent has no relation to the accents written in the MS. Where expanded contractions are italicised by Jackson in the printed version, the ex tag has been used in the digital edition. Most of Jackson's expansions are not italicised, but diplomatic texts are given in his hardcopy edition. The idiosyncratic spelling has not been corrected or normalised. Where missing letters are restored, the sup tag is used.

Profile Description

Created: By one or more unknown author(s).

Use of language

Language: [GA] The text is in Middle Irish.
Language: [EN] The translation is in English.
Language: [LA] Witness formula in text III, IV and VI and entire text VII in Latin.

List of hands

A [dated after 1058] not known

B [dated contemporary with A] not known

C [dated after 1130] not known

D [dated after 1130] not known

E [dated after 1130] not known

Revision History

Corpus of Electronic Texts Edition: G102007

The Gaelic Notes in the Book of Deer: Author: unknown


Edited Texts


Colum Cille & Drostán mac Cosgreg a dalta tángator a hÍ mar ro falseg Dia doib gonic' Abbordoboir, & Bede cruthnec robo mormær Buchan ar a ginn; & ess é ro thidnaig doib in gathraig-sain in saere go bráith ó mormaer & ó thosec. Tángator as a athle-sen in cathraig ele, & do-raten ri Colum Cille sí, iar fa llán do rath Dé. Acus do-rodloeg ar in mormær .i. Bede go-ndas tabrad dó, & ní tharat. Acus ro gab mac dó galar, iar n-ére na glérec, & robo marb act mad bec. Iar sen do-chuid in mormaer d'attac na glérec go ndéndaes ernacde lesin mac go ndísad slánte dó; & do-rat i n-edbairt doib ua Cloic in Tiprat gonice Chloic Pette Mec-Garnait. Do-rónsat i n-ernacde, & tánic slá dó. Iar sen do-rat Collum Cille do Drostán in chadraig-sen, & ro-s benact, & fo-rácaib in mbréther, ge bé tísad ris, ná bad blienec buadacc. Tángator déara Drostán ar scarthain fri Collum Cille. Ro laboir Colum Cille, ‘Bed Déar a anim ó shunn imacc.’


Comgall mac Éda do-rat ua Orti 'nice Fúréne do Colum Cille & do Drostán. Moridac mac Morcunn do-rat Pett Mec-Garnait & achad Toche Temni; & ba h-é robo mormaír & robo thosec. Matain mac Caerill do-rat cuit mormoír i n-Alteri, & Cú Líi mac Batín do-rat cuit toíseg. Domnall mac Giric & Mal-Brigte mac Chathail do-rat Pett in Mulenn do Drostán. Cathal mac Morcunt do-rat Achad na Glérec do Drostán. Domnall mac Ruadrí & Mal-Colum mac Culéon do-ratsat Bidbin do Dia & do Drostán. Mal-Coloum mac Cinatha do-rat cuit ríig i bBidbin & in Pett Mec-Gobroig, & dá dabeg uactair Ros abard. Mal-Colum mac Moíl-Brigte do-rat ind Elerc. Mal-Snecte mac Luloing do-rat Pett Malduib do Drostán. Domnall mac Meic-Dubbacín ro báith na h-ule edbarta ro Drostán ar thabart a thule dó. Ro báith Cathal ar an choir chétna a cuitid thoísig, & do-rat proinn chét cec Nolloce & cec Cásc do Dia & do Drostán. Cainnech mac Meic-Dobarcon & Cathal do-ratsator Alterin Alla Uethe na Camss[?]e gonice in beith edar dá Alterin, Do-rat Domnall & Cathal Etdanin do Dia na h-ule edbarta ri Dia & ri Drostán ó thosach go derad i ssaere ó mormaer & ó thésech cu laithi brátha; {folio 4b} & bennact in Chomded ar cec mormar & ar cec tosech chomallfas & da'n síl da n-éis.


Gartnait mac Cannech & Ete ingen Gille-Míchél do-ratsat Pet Mec-Cobrig ri coscerad eclasi Críst & Petir abstoil, & do Colum Cille & do Drostán, sér ó na h-ulib dolodib, co n-a nascad do Cormac escob Dúni Callenn, in n-ocmad bliadin rígi Dauíd. Testibus istis:—Nectan escob Abberdeon, & Léot ab Brecini, & Mael-Domnig mac Mec-Bead, & Algune mac Arcill, & Ruadrí mormar Marr, & Matadín brithem, & Gille-Críst mac Cormaic, & Mal-Petir mac Domnaill, & Domongart fer léginn Turbruad, & Gille-Colaim mac Muredig, & Dubni mac Mal-Colaim.


Do-rat Gartnait & ingen Gille-Mícael Ball Domin i Pet in Púir do Críst & do Colim Cilli & do Drostán. Teste Gille-Callíne sacart, & Feradac mac Mal-Bricín, & Mal-Girc mac Trálín.


Donnchad mac Mec-Bead mec Hidid do-rat Acchad Madchor do Críst acus do Drostán & do Choluim Cille in sore go brád. Mal-Féchín & Comgell & Gille-Críst mac Finguni i nn-a fienasi in testus, & Mal-Coluim mac Molíni. Cormac mac Cennédig do-rat gonige Scáli Merlec. Comgell mac Caennaig, taesec Clande Canan, do-rat do Críst & do Drostán & do Choluim Cille gonige in gorthe mór i gginn in fris is nesu d'Aldín Alenn, ó Dubuci go Lurchari, etar sliab & achad, i ssaeri ó théssach cu bráth; & a bennacht ar cach hén chomallfas ar és cu bráth, & a mallact ar cach én ticfa ris.


Ro báid Colbán in mormér Buchan & Éua ingen Garnait a ben phústa, & Donnachac mac Síthig tœsech Clenni Morgainn, na h-uli edbarta ri Dia & ri Drostán & ria Colum Cilli & ri Petar apstal, ó na h-ulib dolaidib, ar chuit cetri dabach don-í thíssad ar ard-mandaidib Alban cu cotchenn & ar a h-ard-chellaib. Testibus his:—Bróccín, & Cormac abb Turbruaid, & Morgunn mac Donnchid, & Gilli-Petair mac Donnchaid, & Mal-Fæchín, & dá mac Matni, & mathe Buchan huli 'n-a fiaidnaisse i nHelain.


Dauíd rex Scottorum omnibus probis hominibus suis salutes. Sciatis quod clerici de Dér sint quieti et immunes ab omni laicorum officio et exactione indebita, sicut in libro eorum scribtum est, et dirationauerunt apud Banb & iurauerunt apud Abberdeon. Quapropter firmiter precipio ut nullus eis aut eorum catellis aliquam iniuriam inferre presumat. Teste Gregorio episcopo de Dún Callden. Teste Andrea episcopo de Catenes. Teste Samsone episcopo de Brechin. Teste Doncado comite de Fíb, & Mal-Mori d' Athótla, & Ggille-Bríte comite d' Éngus, & Gille-Comded mac Æd, & Brócín, & Cormac de Turbrud, & Ádam mac Ferdomnac, & Gille-'ndrias mac Matni, apud Abberdeon.


[...] Identified place-names are given here in their modern forms; unidentified ones in italics. All names are in a normalised spelling.


Columba and Drostán son of Coscrach, his disciple, came from Iona, as God guided them, to Aberdour; and Bede the Pict was mormaer of Buchan on their arrival; and it is he who bestowed on them that monastery, in freedom till Doomsday from mormaer and toísech. They came after that to the other monastery, and it pleased Columba, for it was full of the grace of God. And he begged the mormaer, that is, Bede, that he should give it to them, and he did not. And a son of his took a sickness, after the clerics had been refused, and was all but dead. Thereupon the mormaer went to beseech the clerics that they should make a prayer on behalf of the boy, that health might come to him; and he gave to them land as a grant from Cloch in Tiprat as far as Cloch Peitte Meic-Garnait. They made the prayer, and health came to him. Thereupon Columba gave Drostán that monastery, and blessed it, and left the curse that whoever should go against it should not be full of years or of success. Drostán's tears [déra] came as he was parting from Columba. Columba said, ‘Let Deer be its name from this on.’


Comgell son of Aed gave from Oirte as far as Púiréne to Columba and to Drostán. Muiredach son of Morgann gave Pett Meic-Garnait and the field of Toiche Teimne; and it is he who was mormaer and was toísech. Matain son of Cairell gave a mormaer's dues in Altrie and Cú Lí son of Baíthín gave a toísech's dues. Domnall son of Giric and Mal-Brigte son of Cathal gave Pett in Muilinn to Drostán. Cathal son of Morgann gave Achad na Cléirech to Drostán. Domnall son of Ruaidrí and Mal-Coluim son of Cuilén gave Biffie to God and to Drostán. Mal-Coluim son of Cinaed gave a king's dues in Biffie and in Pett Meic-Gobraig, and two davochs of upper Ros abard. Mal-Coluim son of Mal-Brigte gave Elrick. Mal-Snechta son of Lulach gave Pett Malduib to Drostán. Domnall son of Mac-Dubaicín quenched all the grants in favour of Drostán in return for giving him his goodwill. Cathal quenched his toísech's dues on the same terms, and gave a banquet for a hundred every Christmas and Easter to God and to Drostán. Cainnech son of Mac-Dobarchon and Cathal gave Altrie of the cliff of the birch-tree of the river-bend(?) as far as the birch-tree between the two Altries. Domnall and Cathal gave Ednie to God and to Drostán. Cainnech and Domnall and Cathal quenched all the grants in favour of God and of Drostán from beginning to end, from mormaer and toísech till Doomsday. And the blessing of the Lord on every mormaer and every toísech who shall comply with it, and to their descendants after them.


Gartnait son of Cainnech and Ete daughter of Gille-Michéil gave Pett Meic-Gobraig for the consecration of a church of Christ and of Peter the apostle, and to Columba and Drostán, free of all imposts, with a bond for it to Cormac bishop of Dunkeld, the eighth year of the reign of David. These being the witnesses: Nechtan bishop of Aberdeen, and Léot abbot of Brechin, and Mal-Domnaig(?) son of Mac-Bethad, and Aluine son of Aircill, and Ruaidrí mormaer of Mar, and Mataidín the judge, and Gille-Críst son of Cormac, and Mal-Petair son of Domnall, and Domangart lector of Turriff, and Gille-Coluim son of Muiredach, and Duibne son of Mal-Coluim.


Gartnait and the daughter of Gille-Michéil gave Ball Domain in Pitfour to Christ and to Columba and to Drostán. Witness, Gille-Caillíne the priest, and Feradach son of Mal-Bricín, and Mal-Giric son of Tráillín.


Donnchad son of Mac-Bethad son of Ided gave Auchmachar to Christ and to Drostán and to Columba, in freedom till Doomsday. In witness of it, Mal-Fhéichín and Comgell and Gille-Críst son of Finguine, as testimony, and Mal-Coluim son of Moíléne. Cormac son of Cennéitech gave as far as Skillymarno. Comgell son of Cainnech, toísech of Clann Chanann, gave to Christ and to Drostán as far as the great pillar-stone at the end of the thicket nearest to Ailldin Ailenn, from Dubuice to Lurchaire, both rough-grazing and pasture, free of toisech till Doomsday; and his curse on everyone who shall come against it.


Colbán, mormaer of Buchan, and Éva, daughter of Garnait his wedded wife, and Donnchad son of Síthech, toísech of Clann Morgainn, quenched all the grants from all imposts, in favour of God and of Drostán and of Columba and of Peter the apostle, in return for the dues on four davochs'-worth of that which should devolve on the chief religious houses of Scotland in general and on its chief churches. These being the witnesses: Bróiccín, and Cormac abbot of Turriff, and Morgann son of Donnchad, and Gille-Petair son of Donnchad, and Mal-Fhéichín, and the two sons of Maitne, and all the good men of Buchan in witness of it, at Ellon.


David king of Scots, to all his good men, greetings. You are to know that the clergy of Deer are to be quit and immune from all lay service and improper exaction, as is written in their book, and as they proved by argument at Banff and swore at Aberdeen. Wherefore I strictly enjoin that no-one shall dare to do any harm to them or to their goods. Witness, Gregory bishop of Dunkeld. Witness, Andrew bishop of Caithness. Witness, Samson bishop of Brechin. Witness, Donnchad earl of Fife and Mal-Moire of Atholl and Gille-Brigte earl of Angus, and Gille-Coimded son of Aed, and Bróiccín, and Cormac of Turriff, and Adam son of Ferdomnach, and Gille-Aindrias son of Maitne; at Aberdeen.