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Category: Languages, Language Use & Dictionaries, National Library of Scotland

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The only known copies of nine of the earliest books printed in Scotland are the most precious items held by the National Library of Scotland in its role as custodian of the nation’s printed heritage.

Known as ‘The Chepman & Myllar Prints’, they were produced in or about 1508 on Scotland’s first printing press, established in Edinburgh (in what is now the Cowgate) by Walter Chepman and Androw Myllar. Chepman, an Edinburgh merchant, provided the money. Myllar, an Edinburgh bookseller who had previously been involved with printing in France, brought with him experience in the book trade.

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Auchinleck has held a prominent place in discussions of the history and development of Middle English. Its texts provide important information about English dialects at an early stage (the 1330s) and dialect profiles are included in the Linguistic Atlas of Late Medieval English for all five Auchinleck scribes who copy literary texts (it is not possible to analyse the dialect of Scribe 4 as he copied only the Battle Abbey Roll, a list of names). These profiles locate the written language of Scribe 1 in Middlesex, Scribe 3 in London, Scribe 5 in Essex and Scribes 2 and 6 in areas close together on the Gloucestershire / Worcestershire border. Scribes 1 and 3 have received particular attention as they form a basis for M. L.

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