Historic Scots artefacts to go on show for first time

Archivist Jocelyn Grant with an Arsenic Poison bottle from the shocking murder trial of Glasgow socialite Madeleine Smith in 1857. Picture: Contributed.
Archivist Jocelyn Grant with an Arsenic Poison bottle from the shocking murder trial of Glasgow socialite Madeleine Smith in 1857. Picture: Contributed.
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PERSONAL items from some of Scotland’s most famed ­historical figures will go on show for the first time as part of the Fringe.

The exhibits include the earliest letter written by a young Mary, Queen of Scots, poison bottles from a notorious murder trial, a document from Robert Burns’s marriage, and photographs from the construction of the Forth Bridge.

The items from the national archive will be displayed together for the first time in the National Records of Scotland exhibition Famous Scots From The Past, at General Register House from today.

The Trial That Scandalised Scotland section features arsenic bottles, love letters and other items of evidence from the shocking murder trial of Glasgow socialite Madeleine Smith in 1857, who was accused of poisoning her secret lover Pierre Emile L’Angelier but walked free from court on a not proven verdict.

Correspondence Of A Queen displays the earliest letter written by Mary, Queen of Scots in around 1550 when she was aged seven or eight, to her mother Mary of Guise. The child queen Mary, who had been sent to France in 1548 to be raised with her husband to be, the dauphin Francis, son of King Henry II of France, was reunited with her mother in France in October 1550.

Meanwhile, the No Bells For The Bard section contains the Parish Register entry for the 1788 marriage of Burns and Jean Armour.

Part of the exhibition entitled The Man Who Built The Bridge displays photographs and documents dating from the 1880s on the construction of the Forth Bridge, Sir William Arrol’s world-famous project.

The venue itself is described as “one of the most important public buildings to grace the capital of Enlightenment Scotland”.

Fiona Hyslop, Cabinet Secretary for Culture, Europe and External Affairs, said: “These items offer an insight into the personal lives of some of the great characters of Scotland’s past, and tell us more about our rich history and heritage.”

Tim Ellis, National Records of Scotland chief executive, said: “This exhibition is an excellent opportunity to view just part of the wealth of historical materials held by National Records of Scotland, specially selected by our archivists to intrigue both first-time visitors and regular customers.”

The exhibition runs until September 1.