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Historical Writing in Twelfth- and Thirteenth-Century Scotland: The Dunfermline Compilation

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)228-252
Number of pages24
JournalHistorical Research: The Journal of the Institute of Historical Research
Issue number220
Early online date9 Mar 2009
StatePublished - May 2010

King's Authors


This article examines the first three items in a manuscript housed in the Royal Library in Madrid but written at the Benedictine abbey of Dunfermline in Fife, Scotland during the reign of James III (1460–88). It argues that the three items were originally put together during the reign of Alexander III (1249–86) and together formed a compilation which should be viewed as the earliest extant history of the twelfth- and thirteenth-century kings of Scots. Interestingly, the Dunfermline compilation did not stress the Irish ancestry of the kings of Scots, as might be assumed, but instead set its subjects against the backdrop of their Anglo-Saxon descent from the house of Cerdic. The article then considers the relationship of the Dunfermline compilation to Turgot's Vita Sancte Margarete and Aelred of Rievaulx's Genealogia Regum Anglorum and argues that the use of these sources in the compilation suggest that it was put together for a particular political purpose, a purpose for which the Anglo-Saxon ancestry of the kings of Scots had particular relevance

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