The Lyon in Mourning

The Lyon in Mourning


“The Lyon in Mourning” manuscript, currently held by the National Library of Scotland, is a unique document in Scottish history. Compiled by a Jacobite clergyman Robert Forbes after the suppression of the final Jacobite Rising in 1746, the work consists of ten octavo volumes totalling 2148 pages of transcribed conversations, narrative accounts, poems, songs, letters and even material relics such as scraps of fabric and pieces of a boat. As Forbes said of his task:
I have a great Anxiety to make the Collection as compleat &and exact as possible for the Instruction of future Ages in a piece of History the most remarkable &and interesting that ever happened in any Age or Country.
This work is currently the focus of a SSHRC-funded Partnership Engage Grant between Simon Fraser University’s Research Centre for Scottish Studies (RCSS) and Digital Humanities Innovation Lab (DHIL) and the National Library of Scotland. Using the digital images of the manuscript hosted on Simon Fraser University Library’s website, our project employs TEI encoding to display and analyze the contents of “The Lyon in Mourning.” By coding and including metadata on the people, places and objects featured in the pages of “The Lyon in Mourning,” our project will provide new evidence about the nature and extent of Jacobite activity in post-1745 Scotland, despite government attempts to suppress the Jacobite cause.

Images of LiM

Cover page from Volume 1 Fragments of a boat attached to manuscript


There are four objectives to our research:
  1. Evaluate the representation of “The Lyon in Mourning” in the catalogues and records of the NLS to determine how perceptions of the manuscript and the Jacobite cause have changed over time;
  2. Identify and analyze the original papers of Forbes distributed throughout the archives of the NLS and at National Records Scotland (NRS) that Jacobite Robert Forbes compiled and transcribed in “The Lyon in Mourning” to understand his composition of the manuscript;
  3. Employ qualitative and quantitative digital humanities methodologies to analyze the stories of individuals and the networks of people, places and communications represented in the manuscript to reconstruct Jacobite networks;
  4. Mobilize findings for both academic and general audiences, spotlighting stories of female, labouring-class and Gaelic-speaking individuals represented in the manuscript and providing interactive visualizations of the research

Learn More about the Project

Follow the Lyon in Mourning on Twitter