The Book of Deer Project is a vibrant community led initiative based in Aberdeenshire, North East Scotland and exists to promote the knowledge of the Book of Deer in the local area and further afield.
The regeneration of any community is directly linked to its ability to constantly transform itself without losing sight of its cultural roots.
It seeks to encourage renewed interest and research in the book, in particular in the early examples of written Scottish Gaelic contained within and, through archaeological digs, the project hopes to find the site of the Monastery of Deer where the book was used so long ago. An important aim of the project is to benefit and develop the local community and thus leading to a greater sense of our local history and heritage in the North East of Scotland. The Book of Deer Project is a Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation (S.C.I.O.) and is recognised as a local Scottish Charity. The Scottish Charity number for the Book of Deer Project is SC030656.
We were thrilled to have the Book of Deer back in the North East of Scotland on loan at the Aberdeen Art Gallery and Museums for three months in 2022. A group of our members visited Cambridge University Library in 2019 to see the book and this started the ball rolling.
The Book of Deer returns to the North East of Scotland for the first time in a millennium.
Led by the Book of Deer Project, a partnership was formed comprising Aberdeen City Council, Archives, Gallery and Museums, Aberdeenshire Council, Live Life Aberdeenshire, University of Cambridge, Cambridge University Library, University of Aberdeen, Museums and Special Collections and Cameron Archaeology Ltd. which obtained funding from the National Lottery Heritage Fund for a three pronged programme during the Year of Scotland’s Stories in 2022: the book was on display at Aberdeen Art Gallery from July to October, a 12 week archaeological dig took place at Deer Abbey between April and September to try and find the Monastery of Deer and there was a wonderful cultural programme which accompanied both events.
Thanks go to all the partners for delivering such an ambitious and successful programme and also to NLHF for their generous funding.
Book of Deer 2022 Summer Programme
If you would like to see the events of the 2022 programme, then please use the link below:
This website has been modernised as part of the legacy of the NLHF grant.
The Book of Deer Project attempts to reach out to people who have an interest in the Book or who may have a particular expertise which would help in putting it before a wider audience.
The Project organizes several seminars each year, each one dealing with a particular aspect of the Book of Deer or local history or heritage.
The seminars are held at various locations, some in Aberdeen at the University Chaplaincy in Old Aberdeen and some at Aden Country Park Theatre or Kemp Hall, Old Deer. The Project also organizes talks for the Annual General Meetings (AGMs).
During lockdown one talk was delivered virtually by Dr. Mark Hall of Perth Museum and Art Gallery on “Things to Make and Do: Games, Knots, Graffiti, and Magic at Deer Abbey” and we were joined by supporters from as far afield as New York.
We generally organise a day trip each year. For example in 2019 we had a trip to Kinneff Church to see and read all about the Honours of Scotland (replicas of the Crown Jewels of Scotland).
Our most exciting trip to date was our visit to Cambridge University Library in 2019 to see the book itself. We had a fascinating talk by Dr. Ali Bonner followed by visits to two of the Colleges
Between 2000-2011, annual pilgrimages for Book of Deer members would take place in June. These pilgrimages served two main purposes: to (1) acquaint the pilgrims with local history and heritage and (2) to give the pilgrims an opportunity to reflect on the life and times of the monks of Deer. Pilgrims traversed over the same terrain that the monks did in ancient times as they set out to convert the Picts to the Christian religion and to minister to the sick, albeit, today, with the support of tarred roads and the high tech walking gear of today. There were ten pilgrimages in all.
The Book of Deer Project commissioned and paid for a suite of music to be composed by the eminent composer Professor Richard Ingham called the Book of Deer Suite and based on the Book of Deer. This was premiered at Crimonmogate in Aberdeenshire in 2014, has been performed at the Edinburgh Festival and elsewhere and was performed at Pluscarden Abbey, Deer Abbey and the Cowdray Hall in Aberdeen during the 2022 Book of Deer Programme.
The celebrated fiddler, Paul Anderson, has written a beautiful piece of Scottish music specially for the Book of Deer which is magical.
One of our members, Gordon Hay, has also honoured us with a suite of music to celebrate the return of the book to the north east for a short visit.
We have also been treated to several Scottish concerts in the past, organised by founder member Sandy Ritchie
The story tells of the adventures of Aiden a young boy who lived in Old Deer and worked in the Monastery of Deer. It was here that the monks spotted his aptitude for language and they sent him to the scriptorium in the large monastery of Portmahomack in the Black Isle. His studies progressed well until the monastery was raised to the ground and he was captured by Vikings. He was taken to the Viking village of Starnakeppie near the sea loch of Strathbeg where he was a servant to the Viking chief Tryggve. He eventually escaped back to Old Deer with some of the items he had rescued from Portmahomack and he set up a small scriptorium in the Monastery of Deer. He started work on the Book of Deer