On 15 Sep­tem­ber 1507, James IV of Scot­land grant­ed Wal­ter Chep­man, an Edin­burgh mer­chant, and his busi­ness part­ner Androw Myl­lar, a book­seller, the first roy­al licence for print­ing in Scot­land. Although the licence was actu­al­ly grant­ed to enable the print­ing of the Aberdeen bre­viary, a book of Scot­tish church prac­tices and the lives of local saints, com­plied by William Elphin­stone, Bish­op of Aberdeen, The Com­plaint of the Black Knight by John Lydgate, is the first known work from the press set up by Chep­man and Myl­lar, print­ed on 4 April 1508 near what is now Edin­burgh’s Cow­gate. Images of works print­ed by Chep­man and Myl­lar prints held at the Nation­al Library of Scot­land are avail­able on the Scot­land’s first print­ed books website.

Image of plaque to commemorate the first printed book in Scotland On 4 April 2008, as part of the cel­e­bra­tion of 500 years of the print­ing indus­try in Scot­land, a com­mem­o­ra­tive plaque was unveiled near the site of Chep­man and Myl­lar’s press, at the cor­ner of Black­fri­ars Steet and the Cow­gate, placed there by the City of Edin­burgh Council.

In 2018, as part of the cel­e­bra­tion of the Trust’s 30th anniver­sary, the Trust arranged an exhi­bi­tion in the Glas­gow Her­ald’s for­mer print­ing works in the Light­house, Mitchell Lane.

Print­ing spread grad­u­al­ly through Scot­land, with a press estab­lished in St Andrews in 1552, a short-lived one in Stir­ling in 1571 and in Aberdeen in 1622, with oth­er major towns such as Glas­gow fol­low­ing lat­er in the sev­en­teenth cen­tu­ry: the spread of print­ing across Scot­land is shown on the Spread of Scot­tish print­ing website.

SPRAT has pub­lished two Print Trail leaflets, one each for Edin­burgh and Glas­gow.  The ear­li­er series of books on local print­ing indus­tries in Scot­land, pub­lished under the title A Rep­u­ta­tion for Excel­lence are avail­able through the online shop. Text-only ver­sions are down­load­able as PDF files through the links below.

Edin­burgh                   Glas­gow                   Dundee and Perth

 Aberdeen & North­ern Counties