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The founders of Scotland of medieval legend, Scota with Goídel Glas, voyaging from Egypt, as depicted in a 15th-century manuscript of the Scotichronicon

The Scotichronicon is a 15th-century chronicle or legendary account, by the Scottish historian Walter Bower. It is a continuation of historian-priest John of Fordun's earlier work Chronica Gentis Scotorum beginning with the founding of Scotland of medieval legend, by Scota with Goídel Glas.


  • Importance 1
  • The work 2
  • Criticism 3
  • Abridgments 4
  • See also 5
  • Notes 6
  • References 7


The National Library of Scotland has called it "probably the most important medieval account of early Scottish history", noting that it provides both a strong expression of national identity and a window into the world view of medieval commentators.[1]

The text includes a reference to "the famous murderer, Robin Hood, as well as Little John", one of the earliest records of Robin Hood and Little John. The reference is found, in Latin, under year 1266.[2]

The work

Bower began the work in 1440 at the request of a neighbour, Sir David Stewart of Rosyth. The completed work, in its original form, consists of 16 books, of which the first five and a portion of the sixth (to 1163) are Fordun's—or mainly his, for Bower added to them at places. In the later books, down to the reign of Robert I (1371), he was aided by Fordun's Gesta Annalia, but from that point to the close the work is original and of contemporary importance, especially for James I, with whose death it ends. The task was finished in 1447.


Bower has been described as a less competent chronicler than Fordun, with one commenter calling him "garrulous, irrelevant and inaccurate" and noting that he "makes every important occurrence an excuse for a long-winded moral discourse".[3]


Bower engaged in a reduction or "abridgment" of the Scotichronicon in the last two years of his life, which is known as the Book of Cupar, and which is preserved in the Advocates' library, Edinburgh (MS. 35. 1. 7). Other abridgments, not by Bower, were made about the same time, one about 1450 (perhaps by Patrick Russell, a Carthusian of Perth) preserved in the Advocates' library (MS. 35. 6. 7) and another in 1461 by an unknown writer, also preserved in the same collection (MS. 35. 5. 2). Copies of the full text of the Scotichronicon, by different scribes, are extant. There are two in the British Library, in The Black Book of Paisley,[4] and in Harl. MS. 712; one in the Advocates' library, from which Walter Goodall printed his edition (Edinburgh, 1759), and one in the library of Corpus Christi College, Cambridge.

See also

Media related to at Wikimedia Commons


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  • Walter Bower, Scotichronicon, ed. D. E. R. Watt and others, 9 volumes (1987–1998).
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