Mary Queen of Scots files unearthed

Documents with links to Mary Queen of Scots have been unearthed after being lost in storage for decades.

The files date from 1553 to 1567 and are signed variously by the queen, her then-husband James Hepburn, 4th Earl of Bothwell, and James, Duke of Chatellerault.

They give an insight into the commercial life of Edinburgh during the 16th century.

Letter from Mary Queen of Scots
Letter from the queen on the granting of ground in Newhaven for the making of salt by London businessmen (Museums and Galleries Edinburgh/PA)

Information about them was held on file having been gifted in 1920 but they were lost in storage before being unearthed during recent inventory and conservation work.

Vicky Garrington, history curator at the Museum of Edinburgh, said: “The documents provide us with an amazing bridge to the past.

“It’s incredible to think of Mary Queen of Scots reading through these documents before carefully applying her signature.

“We all know the story of Scotland’s queen, her eventful life and eventual execution, but in these documents we see a different side to Mary.

“Here, she can be seen carefully managing the everyday affairs of Edinburgh and Scotland.

“These documents help us to better understand her reign.”

The files have been taken out of the frames in which they were displayed many years ago, causing new information to come to light.

Letter detailing gift by the queen
A gift by Mary of a portion of the sand for building a bulwark, signed by James, Duke of Chatellerault (Museums and Galleries Edinburgh)

Two of the files include watermarks in the paper which can only be seen when they are held up to the light.

One features a goat, the other a hand holding a flower.

Mary Queen of Scots reigned over Scotland from December 1542 to July 1567.

Following her forced abdication and imprisonment, she was eventually beheaded in 1587 at Fotheringhay Castle in Northamptonshire.

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