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Date updated: 2/28/2020

The Great Parchment Book was recognised as a hugely significant record of the Ulster Plantation in the early 17th century, providing a unique insight into an important period of the history of Northern Ireland for which there are few other original archives surviving.

It cannot be overstated how important the Plantation of Ulster was to the history of Northern Ireland, the United Kingdom and Ireland and it still has influence today. The Great Parchment Book is central to the study of the Plantation and the social, economic, cultural, religious, and political history of Northern Ireland.

The Great Parchment Book provides a key record of the population of early 17th century Ulster at the time of the Plantation, not just the Protestant settlers who came from both England and Scotland, but also the native Irish, and exceptionally many women, at all social levels. It contains unique information about the properties and individual buildings they inhabited, as well as the extent and layout of the towns of Coleraine and Londonderry.

The Great Parchment Book has considerable significance for the people of Ulster, Northern Ireland and Ireland more generally; it is regarded as iconic by the Irish Society and the City of London.

Visit the Great Parchment Book blog to discover more
Part of the great Parchment Book, showing some typical damage caused by a fire in 1786
Part of the great Parchment Book, showing some typical damage caused by a fire in 1786

The Great Parchment Book is also notable for being badly damaged in a fire in 1786 which led to it being unavailable to researchers for over 200 years, and for being successfully reconstructed as a result of a cutting-edge digital imaging project.

The Great Parchment Book has been inscribed onto the UNESCO UK Memory of the World Register.