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Philippa Smith and Wales First Minister Carwyn Jones

​Philippa Smith and Wales First Minister Carwyn Jones. © The Welsh Government

Great Parchment Book awarded UNESCO Memory of the World status

London Metropolitan Archives are delighted to announce that at the UK Memory of the World awards at the Senedd in Cardiff on 21 June 2016, the Great Parchment Book of the Honourable the Irish Society was inscribed to the UK register of the UNESCO Memory of the World.

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

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.

Recipients of 2016 awards at the reception, the Senedd, Cardiff

​Recipients of 2016 awards at the reception, the Senedd, Cardiff. 

© The Welsh Government

UNESCO established the Memory of the World (MoW) Programme in 1992. The programme vision is that the world's documentary heritage belongs to all, should be fully preserved and protected for all and permanently accessible to all without hindrance. The UK Register (one of several country-level programmes from around the world) recognises documentary heritage deemed by a panel of experts to be of outstanding significance to the UK. At the awards in Cardiff, seven new inscriptions joined the 50 already listed on the UK register.

The addition of the Great Parchment Book means that London Metropolitan Archives, City of London Corporation has four items inscribed to the UK Register, the other items being the Charter of William I to the City of London, London County Council Bomb Damage Maps, and Robert Hooke’s Diary, 1672-83. This is more than any other local authority archive service and demonstrates the importance of the History of London collections held by LMA which, along with the printed collections at Guildhall Library, are also Designated as Outstanding by the Arts Council England.

You can find a fuller description of the UK Memory of the World awards in Cardiff on 21 June on the Great Parchment Book blog about the award.

23 June 2016
Last Modified:
29 September 2017