Why this old document might be the most interesting thing at Orkney Library
‘So marvellously nerdishly cool.’
Saying Orkney Library has quite the history is something of an understatement – it’s been “providing books and more since 1683”.
So when it announced on Twitter that its archive carried something “amazing” we buckled in for a thread that did not disappoint.
In one of our archive strong rooms there is a shelf. The shelf does not contain the most exciting or interesting item in the archive but it does contain something amazing.— Orkney Library (@OrkneyLibrary) August 28, 2018
A thread. pic.twitter.com/pVJTJUPG63
The folders are tied closed with cotton archival tape and inside one of the folders is an envelope containing a disposition written on a piece of vellum. pic.twitter.com/uDbIyuCLnf— Orkney Library (@OrkneyLibrary) August 28, 2018
The tweets explained how on one shelf in the archive is a sturdy box which holds a number of folders.
Inside is a disposition written on vellum – that’s calf or goat skin – which is older than the library itself.
A disposition is a legal document concerning the transfer of land from one person to another. Not that exciting.— Orkney Library (@OrkneyLibrary) August 28, 2018
But this disposition is amazing because it was written in 1402.
That is 616 years ago. Written by someone who lived in #Orkney six centuries ago. pic.twitter.com/vfBfWMEWd3
Or, to put it another way, “when Henry IV was King of England and Robert III was King of Scots”.
It predates Columbus sailing to the Americas, the birth of Shakespeare, the Great Fire of London, and the Battle of Waterloo.
It was written 90 years before Columbus sailed to the Americas. 162 years before the birth of Shakespeare. 264 years before the Great Fire of London. 413 years before the Battle of Waterloo.— Orkney Library (@OrkneyLibrary) August 28, 2018
Try to imagine life in 2634. This is why archives, museums and libraries are amazing.— Orkney Library (@OrkneyLibrary) August 28, 2018
The joyous thread secured thousands of likes and shares across the multiple posts. It really struck a chord with followers.
Orkney Library with 42.5k followers including me The passage of time in this short thread is incredible https://t.co/Kl2SGWL9nU— Helen Mears (@HelenMargaretMe) August 29, 2018
so marvelously nerdishly cool https://t.co/yM0J3jCwsb— tim medland (@TimMedland) August 28, 2018
Interesting thread. Why libraries and archives and museums are important. https://t.co/7MJF6PeRcg— goofball (@goofball1) August 28, 2018
Orkney Library was itself bowled over by the reaction.
Wow. A big thank you for all the likes, retweets and lovely comment about our archive thread yesterday. It shows just how important these things are to people.— Orkney Library (@OrkneyLibrary) August 29, 2018
Also thanks for reading to the end and working out that the amazing thing on the shelf was not just a thread. https://t.co/MCUfOAiYCj
Principal librarian Karen Walker told Press Association. “It’s great. It shows the variety of things we do. We’re not just a library, we have a strong archive section as well.”