As part of the Models of Authority project, free public exhibitions were held at TNA and NRS during 2017. Each institution displayed some of their earliest Scottish charters, while a series of banners explored aspects of the Models of Authority project research. Below you can find links to those charters which were on display at NRS. You can also download the banners from the exhibition.


At TNA: 10 January – 25 March 2017 (TNA blog) 

At NRS: 5 April – 17 May 2017 (NRS blog)

See an interview with NRS archivist Dr Tristram Clarke, Head of Outreach, here.


Charters on display in the exhibition at NRS.


Mid-12th century skilled writing: this kind of formal handwriting would normally be used in books in this period


Mid-13th century skilled writing: by this point, this kind of formal handwriting had been developed for writing charters

  • Charter of King Alexander II (1214–1249) for Melrose Abbey: NRS GD55/231


Charters written by royal scribes: examples of quick handwriting

  • Charter of King Mael Coluim IV (1153–1165) for Holyrood Abbey: NRS GD45/13/229
  • Charter of King William I (1165–1214) for Holyrood Abbey: NRS GD45/13/244
  • Charter of King William I (1165–1214) for Melrose Abbey: NRS GD55/91
  • Charter of King William I (1165–1214) settling a dispute between dispute between Patrick, earl of Dunbar, and Melrose Abbey: NRS GD55/103


Charters written by monastic scribes: varieties of handwriting influenced by royal scribes

  • Charter of Donnchad, earl of Carrick, for Melrose Abbey: NRS GD55/189
  • Charter of Richard, bishop of St Andrews, for Holyrood Abbey: NRS GD45/13/225
  • Charter of Isabel, wife of William of Ryedale, for Melrose Abbey: NRS GD55/163
  • Charter of Walter son of Alan, steward of the king of Scotland, for Melrose Abbey: NRS GD55/73 (2)



Banners from the exhibition.

Download the banners below by clicking on their name.

Banner 1: Introduction

Banner 2: Historical background

Banner 3: What are charters?

Banner 4: Charters: what survives?

Banner 5: Who are the scribes?

Banner 6: How to write quickly

Banner 7: The creativity of monastic scribes

Banner 8: The creativity of royal scribes