Skip to main content

Medical fragment in Gaelic, 15th century

Identifier: Coll-98/4/1/1

Scope and Contents

Eight leaves of parchment, small folio, stitched together with stout linen thread. The writing on the first six leaves is in two columns, in a plain, clear hand of the fifteenth century.
'J. J.' (?Jacobus Jack) is written in quite a modern hand on the foot of margin of fol.3aa, otherwise there is nothing to indicate author, date, or scribe. The text is continuous, and the subject is given in Latin, written in small capitals: (q)u(i)nque sunt potencie anime, etc. Then follows: Ised adeir Ar̄.in secundo de anime cofuilit cuig cumachta co generalta ag an anim, 'What Aristotle says in the second (book of the) De anima is that the soul has in general five faculties.' Of these brutes have four (tuicsiu or understanding being the only denied them), while plants have only one, fàs or growth. After explaining the technical terms, potentia, object and others, the exposition thereafter proceeds to the senses, of which there are ten, five exterior (foirmilleach) and five interior (inmedonach); the organs with their objects and media; vision, which is elaborately treated; hearing; taste and smell. The interior senses, under the divsion of Auicenna - Sensus communis, imaginatiua, fantastica, estimatiua, and memoratiua - are but briefly handled. The tract ends with fínit on fol. 6b 2, the remained of the column being taken up with short definitions of elementum (dùil), uita (betha), teine, etc., of which last the following definition is offered: Is ed is teine ann duil ata inann do gnath ⁊ gamairind a dilus do gnath amail ata in teine nemtuiscinach, 'Fire is an element which is ever the same, the property of which ever endures, as fire is non-sensitive.' Several authors are quoted in course of the discussion, -Ar̄. (=Aristotle); Ar. (=Arnaldus probably at times =Aristotle); Au. (=Aiucenna); Algazel, Alibertus, Fellsam, 'philosopher' (=Aristotle).
Fols. 7 and 8 are written in one column, and in a rougher and later hand. The subject is charms and nostrums for the cure of various ailments, for the furthering of desirable ends, and the preventing of possible mischances. Sometiems herbs are recommended for a suitable drug or plaster, but in all cases cabalistic letters and words are essential for repetition, or for being carried about the person.


  • 15th century

Language of Materials

Scottish Gaelic

Physical Description

Good condition

Conditions Governing Access

Open. Please contact the repository in advance.


8 Leaves

Other Finding Aids

Mackinnon, Donald (1912). A descriptive catalogue of Gaelic manuscripts in the Advocates' library, Edinburgh, and elsewhere in Scotland. Available online:

Previous reference

Mackinnon 1

Physical Description

Good condition

Physical Facet

Material: Vellum

Binding: Modern folio. Labelled 'Mackinnon (1924) 1'


20.5 cm x 26.7 cm

Repository Details

Part of the Edinburgh University Library Special Collections Repository

Centre for Research Collections
University of Edinburgh Main Library
George Square
Edinburgh EH8 9LJ Scotland
+44(0)131 650 8379