The Elizabeth Ross Manuscript —
Original Highland Airs Collected
at Raasay in 1812

Edited by Peter Cooke,
Morag Macleod and Colm Ó Baoill

A portrait of Elizabeth Ross

This important manuscript was discovered and bought for the University of Edinburgh’s School of Scottish Studies by Francis Collinson in 1954. It contains 150 airs of which about 100 are vocal airs, the others being instrumental dance tunes or slow airs. Dating from 1812, it is the earliest manuscript collection of Highland music. Now typeset with the addition of texts, translations and detailed commentaries, it is freely available for downloading as a pdf file (approximately 5 megabytes, 192 pages) entitled The Elizabeth Ross Manuscript from the School’s website. The music begins after the commentary at about page 80.

According to the School of Scottish Studies website, the author Elizabeth Jane Ross left the manuscript in the library of Raasay House when she departed to travel with her sister to India where she later married Baronet Charles D’Oyly. She was a competent transcriber, and her settings represent well the wide range of Hebridean music known to the islanders and in Raasay House, home of James MacLeod, laird of Raasay and Elizabeth’s uncle and guardian.

A facsimile of the manuscript itself is also available on the School of Scottish Studies website (enter “Elizabeth Ross” in their search box at the top of the page). You may also link out to the 82 page facsimile by following this link to the Ross Manuscript.

Please follow this Catalogue link to return to the author index on the Library page.