Harley 6919: word and image in Renaissance Scotland

Jane Stevenson

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Engravings circulated in pre-Reformation Scotland, providing models for Scottish craftsmen: Antwerp and Bruges are likely sources. The Scots élite were visually literate, and commissioned artworks such as Books of Hours. Engravings were used both decoratively and devotionally as highly personal possessions: unfortunately the books that survive from pre-Reformation Scotland are mostly institutional and clerical, not those of the laity. Very few fifteenth-century prints survive at all, because print-collecting did not begin till the sixteenth, so evidence is scanty. There is direct and indirect evidence in Scotland for acquaintance with standard medieval Christian iconography, and it is likely that this was achieved by circulating prints. The Chepman and Myllar prints have woodblock printer’s marks, and there was a block-cutter in Edinburgh by 1539. William of Touris’ Contemplacyon of Synners, moralising poems each based on an engraving, is key evidence for familiarity with prints (a copy survives with drawings based on the print originals).
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)42-59
Number of pages11
JournalEuropean Journal of English Studies
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 25 Mar 2014


  • engravings
  • Antwerp
  • Paris
  • book trade
  • Chepman and Myllar
  • David Lindsay
  • William Dunbar
  • William of Touris


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