Online Tuition in the Palaeography of Scottish Documents

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On 15 February 1971, Scotland, like the rest of the UK, started counting pounds using the decimal system, where the unit of counting is ten ie 100 pence make up 1 pound. Before that money was counted in pounds, shillings and pence. The system worked as follows: there were 12 pence in one shilling, 20 shillings in one pound and so there were 240 pence in a pound.

Most people are familiar with Lsd meaning pounds, shillings and pence, the letters being taken from the Latin librae, solidi and denarii. Sometimes it is uncertain whether the clerk always means the Latin word to be represented as you may find sch or sh instead of s. For this reason we have adopted the following convention transcribing L, s and d when it indicates money as L~ s~ d~. Should any other letters in the word be shown then include them eg Lib~.

Before the Act of Union, Scotland had its own currency, the pound Scots. The debasement of the Scottish coinage had resulted in the divergence of the Scottish and English currencies. However, from 1600 onwards the exchange rate was stabilised at 12:1. One pound Scots equalled 1s. 8d sterling and 1 pound sterling equalled 12 pounds Scots. Some Scottish documents refer to the Scottish merk which was mainly a unit of account, but was occasionally minted prior to 1707. 1 merk equalled two thirds of a Scots pound i.e. 13s 4d which was the equivalent to 1s 1d in sterling.

For more information about money, coinage and banking visit the SCAN website In addition, the Scots currency converter on this website allows you to carry out addition in pounds, shillings and pence and convert an amount in Scots pounds to Sterling from the year 1600 onwards. You can also find out the purchasing power of a sum of money using the Economic History Services website:


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