The Scots Pharmacopoeia is a project initiated by Herbal Heritage Scotland, (founded by herbalist and researcher Claire MacKay) to preserve the roots of the herbal tradition in the Scottish Highlands.
Our aim is to collaborate with scholars in botanical sciences and Gaelic languages to create a modern pharmacopoeia of Highland herbs, based on the Materia Medica and herbal notes from Gaelic manuscripts dating between the 15th and 18th Centuries.
The work of the late Mary Beith, and Agnes Walker has been an inspiration to this project, as is the research of Tess Darwin. The tremendous work of the School of Scottish Studies in collating the sound archives relating to traditional herbal cures, is also a valuable assest to the preservation of the Scottish herbal culture.
Thanks to the great Gaelic scholars, such as Ronald Black, we have been able to access transcripts allowing us to glean what important content the medical manuscripts hold. Knowledge that was passed down through centuries by the famed Beaton family and other great historic physicians.
What the manuscripts demonstrate is that during the 15-18th centuries, the Scottish Highlands held a sophisticated medical system and advanced knowledge of medical traditions from the Arabic, Greek and Latin world, ahead of its time- as well as the folk-medicine and cures that were native to Gaelic speaking lands.
It is our great hope to gather the wisdom, carefully preserved in writing by our knowledgeable ancestors and to present it in a fresh and modern format, hereby making it accessible to many and far into the future of our Scottish culture and heritage.
We hope in creating the Scots Pharmacopoeia that the native cures which our ancestors relied upon will be valued once more and find a place in our modern era again. In a similar way that a 10th century Anglo-Saxon remedy, was recently discovered to be effective in treating a modern 'superbug'.
It is refreshing to think that the healing potential of plants, which were once discarded as heretical and superstitious can be rediscovered in a beneficial way, through the new eyes of Modern Science, and also to think that accounts of history have been sitting on a shelf for centuries, silently untranslated, waiting to be picked up and rediscovered through a fresh awareness of the world.
There's a lot to do!
In order to create the Scot's pharmacopoeia we are looking to collaborate with botanical scientists and Gaelic researchers. If you are a Gaelic scholar or working in a similar field of research and would like to get involved or share stories, we would love to hear from you.
Also if you would like more information on the project plans or are able to offer support in any way- Please get in touch!