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Book of Deer to feature on Great British Story

The Book of Deer, one of Scotland’s most important manuscripts is to feature in the new BBC 2 series "The Great British Story – A People’s History" on Friday 1st June at 9pm.

The new BBC series celebrates Britain’s past from the perspective of ordinary people. Rulers and royals, lords and ladies have all had their say down the centuries, but what were the last 1,600 years like for everyday Britons? During the course of the series we will hear from various local communities who convey what their heritage means to them.

Several aspects of the Book of Deer Project’s work came to the attention of a company producing “The Great British Story” television series including aspects from the Book of Deer and the third phase of the search for the Pictish monastery and wider monastic settlement believed to have been located be in the Old Deer area.

A series of small, carefully targeted excavations was carried out in the Old Parish Church and the village with the co-operation and help of local residents. Although no evidence of the monastic settlement was found during this phase, the search did reveal intriguing clues about the Norman settlement of Old Deer.

The results will be considered in relation to previous work carried out under the auspices of the Book of Deer Project and the possibilities of future research will be discussed.

The Book of Deer Project was founded from the Central Buchan Tourism Group in 1996, by local volunteers. The Book of Deer visitor centre, and hub of activity, is situated in the heart of Aden Country Park, along from the Aberdeenshire Farming Museum.

The Book of Deer itself is a small Gospel Book, housed in Cambridge University Library. The book was probably written by the monks of the Pictish monastery in Deer, North East Aberdeenshire around 8th to 12th century. The monastery has otherwise left no trace of its existence, although a Cistercian Abbey was founded nearby in 1219.

The book contains the illustrated gospels. Very importantly, amid the Latin text and the Celtic illuminations there can be found the oldest pieces of Gaelic writing to have survived from early Medieval Scotland.

The Book of Deer is of supreme value in the way it provides a unique insight into the early church, culture and society of the North East of Scotland from this period. Not only is it of local importance, but it is equally of national and international significance.

For more information on the Book of Deer Project, visit www.bookofdeer.co.uk. For more details on the seminar contact Andrew on 01346532309.

For more information on The Great British Story, visit www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p00r12j3