Historic Charters Return Home

Published: 25 October 2002

Glasgow University Archive Services are delighted to welcome home charters.

Glasgow University Archive Services are delighted to welcome home some thirty eight charters. They have spent the last year at Dundee University Library Conservation Unit in the expert care of their highly-skilled conservators.

The 'Blackhouse Charters' are the oldest surviving series of charters held by the fourth oldest University in the UK. Of national and international significance, they relate to the Blackfriars property - one of the earliest and most significant Crown grants of ecclesiastical land made in sixteenth century Scotland.

These important documents include charters dating from the fourteenth century and the reign of Robert the Bruce. As a consequence of the post-reformation settlement in Scotland the properties were given to the University of Glasgow. The collection is much in demand by scholars, local and family historians alike.

The 38 charters identified for conservation date from 1430 to 1626. They illustrate not only the development of land ownership within the city of Glasgow, but also many parishes and localities in the west of Scotland, notably Lanarkshire and Ayrshire.

They show the original Dominican friary's extensive land holdings and financial dealings and later those of the early University both of which were major economic and social influences in Scotland.

They contain some of the earliest references to named plots and identifiable houses within Glasgow as well as some of the earliest references to named people in the west of Scotland.

Visitors to Glasgow University Archive Services will now have access to these charters, which have previously been unavailable due to their fragile condition. Wear and tear over hundreds of years had taken its toll and last year it became necessary to take action. Work was undertaken on the parchment and paper of the charters to strengthen and preserve them for the future. The historic seals attached onto many of the items were also preserved, and each item was placed in special individual housing to ensure the survival of these important articles for future generations.

Such skilled conservation work comes with a high price tag and the work was made possible by a grant from the National Manuscript Conservation Trust and matching funding from the University itself. The Dundee University Conservation Unit was also able to undertake the work at a discounted rate thanks to the support of the Research Support Libraries Programme Higher Education Conservation Service. Thanks to all these bodies, a vital part of Scotland's heritage has been saved for generations of researchers to come.

Lesley Richmond, University Archivist, is delighted to have these charters available to researchers. 'It is a popular misconception that the University holds information only for the use of academics and students. It is part of our mission to sustain and add value to Scottish culture and therefore we are open to everyone to visit us to view our collections and undertake research.

Members of the public can for example use the records for tracing history of the site of their house or even just to find out how good a student their great-grandfather or mother was. For legal reasons there are naturally restrictions on access to some modern information but otherwise we are delighted to help.'

The University Archives as a whole contain 550 years of history, covering the University's part in the Reformation, the Union of the Parliaments, the Jacobite Rebellion and much more. The University's Archive Service also provides access to the UK's largest collection of business archives and preserves such important records as the Upper Clyde Shipbuilders and House of Fraser archives. It is a collection envied by Higher Education Institutions across the world.

Media Relations Office (media@gla.ac.uk)

Images available on request.


Lesley Richmond University Archivist Glasgow University Archive Services 77-87 Dumbarton Road Glasgow G11 6PW Tel 0141 330 2089 Fax 0141 330 4158 URL: Archives

Anna Grundy National Manuscripts Conservation Trust National Preservation Office The British Library 96 Euston Road London NW1 2DB Tel 020 7412 7612 Fax 020 7412 7796 URL: British Library

Ylva Player-Dahnsj? Conservation Unit University Library University of Dundee Dundee DD1 4HN Tel 01382 344094 Fax 01382 345614 URL: http:Dundee University Library

First published: 25 October 2002

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