Read Older Scots

Read Older Scots website logo

There is wealth of brilliant literature written in Older Scots from the period when Scotland was still an independent kingdom (before 1603) but most of it is totally unknown to modern Scots. For those that do stumble across it, its language - even for many native Scots speakers - can seem offputtingly obscure. In fact, it is not so difficult for modern speakers of English or Scots to read Older Scots if they learn to recognise some characteristic spelling habits, grammatical structures and a certain amount of distinctive vocabulary.

Professor Purdie is collaborating with the Scottish Qualifications Authority (English subject area) and the Association for Scottish Literature to find ways of reintroducing Older Scots literature to the secondary curriculum. At present, Older Scots literature is not taught even at Higher or Advanced Higher level in Scotland and this is unlikely to change unless there is a radical rethink of where and what kinds of teaching materials are made available. Read Older Scots complements her ongoing research for the Leverhulme-funded academic monograph Medieval Scottish Literature: Origins to 1513.

Cropped photo of Wyntoun manuscript with page open

The project aims to bring practising schoolteachers and academics together to collaborate on developing educational resources including curriculum-based classroom materials for teachers and students, and a curated online hub for resources and events relating to Older Scots literature. These are available via the project website.

The project is also developing an app 'Read Older Scots!', which will be freely available to libraries such as the National Library of Scotland and other public repositories, helping them to facilitate public access to digitised manuscripts, prints and modern editions of Older Scots literary works.

The project hopes to connect Scottish pupils and others with this aspect of Scottish cultural heritage, enabling readers to explore poems, historical chronicles, pre-modern town records and other documents written in Older Scots.