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Exhibition National Museum of Scotland

Mary, Queen of Scots and the Book of Hours

31 Mar - 2 Aug 2022

Kingdom of the Scots gallery (Level 1)


Very old book with a colourful spine on a velvety red surface. Faded off-white cover decorated with a cherub and group of people between two columns.

Explore the pages of an illustrated prayer book featuring a handwritten poem by a young Mary, Queen of Scots.

Written in Latin on vellum, the Book of Hours contains 40 exquisite illuminations by a 16th century Master artist. Used for private worship, it belonged to Mary's great aunt Louise de Bourbon, Abbess of Fontevraud, who is believed to have gifted this precious volume to the young queen.

The book was exhibited in the Kingdom of the Scots gallery in a display alongside other objects associated with Mary, Queen of Scots. Six different pages within the book were revealed, with a new page displayed every three weeks. A QR code will allowed visitors to scroll through the vividly illustrated pages in detail.

Pair of purple gloved hands holds a very old book open. Pages are filled with colourful Latin script and a vivid biblical scene on the right.

An example of the Book of Hours' vivid colours, illustrations, and Latin script. © Neil Hanna

The teenage Mary composed the touching four-line verse in French in the late 1550s, around the time of her marriage to the Dauphin François. The translated poem reads:

“Since you wish to remember me here
in your prayers and devout orations,
I ask you first that you remember
what part you have in my affections.”

The Book of Hours was on loan to National Museums Scotland from The Pininski Foundation, Liechtenstein, for the duration of the display.

Plan your visit to National Museum of Scotland.

National Museum of Scotland
Chambers Street

Map and directions

We want everyone who comes to our museums to enjoy their time with us and make the most of their visit. 

  • There is level access to the Museum via the main doors to the Entrance Hall on Chambers Street and the Tower entrance at the corner of Chambers Street and George IV Bridge. 
  • Lifts are available to all floors and accessible toilets are available on most floors, as well as a Changing Places (U) toilet in the Entrance Hall on Level 0.
  • There is an induction loop in the Auditorium.
  • Guide dogs, hearing dogs and other recognised assistance dogs are admitted.

Find out more about our access information.

Mary Queen Of Scots Book Of Hours 2022 01 25 NH 012 1200X798

Look inside

Delve into the pages of the Book of Hours with our interactive viewer and discover more about the remarkable life of Mary, Queen of Scots

Discover the Book of Hours online
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