Scotland’s Makar pens 400 year anniversary poem for Registers of Scotland

Published: 28 June 2017

Four keepers will celebrate 400 years of land registration in Scotland as a specially commissioned poem by Scotland’s Makar, Jackie Kay, is read to the public for the first time today.

The poem celebrates the 400th anniversary of the General Register of Sasines, the world’s oldest national land register. The sasine register is the responsibility of the Keeper of the Registers of Scotland.

The current Keeper of the Registers, Sheenagh Adams, will be joined by three previous keepers at the event which will also see a new artwork, specially commissioned to mark the anniversary, dedicated to the public on the same day that the poem is read for the first time.

The Cabinet Secretary for the Economy, Jobs and Fair Work, Keith Brown, will attend the official opening of Registers of Scotland’s new offices at Saint Vincent’s Plaza in Glasgow tomorrow as part of the ongoing celebrations.

The keeper, Sheenagh Adams, said:

“We are proud of the work that we do to maintain the oldest national land register in the world for the people of Scotland. We have 400 years of learning and expertise and are consolidating that with modern practices that serve the needs not only of our customers, but of our stakeholders, partners and employees.

“It is fitting that I will be joined by three previous keepers this week, all of whom have played an important role in RoS’ history, as well as the Cabinet Secretary, Keith Brown, who will officially open our new offices in Glasgow. It is an honour to be able to mark the occasion with this specially commissioned art work and poetry, and we are grateful to everyone involved. It is a delight to be able to bring together so many of our partners in celebration of our 400 year anniversary.”

Text of poem

SASINE - Jackie Kay

Then my auld freend, as the furst sign
Let’s haund ower a clod o’ earth
And ken that ye and I will keep our wurd
Over time’s lang in-between.

Ye came tae life in a dwam, a dream,
A name here shows whaur you’ve been, lang syne.
To measure time, your deeds, this record -
Seizer! The auldest o’ the wurld.

Auld Caledonia: front runner, streaks ahead;
So far that you kin turn and look back;
The slow, timeless stare o’ the stag,
A heap o’ stones, a sma’ time-lag.

Plot, bothy, shack, croft, lease.
A writ stamped, counterpart, peace.
This land register - across these four centuries:
Fast furward, back; here’s your old stories.



  1. Registers of Scotland is a non-ministerial department of the Scottish Administration and holds trading fund status. It is responsible for compiling and maintaining 18 public registers relating to property and other legal documents in Scotland. RoS records and safeguards the rights of the individual while providing open access to information on the registers.
  2. A position of national laureate, entitled The Scots Makar, was established in 2004 by the Scottish Parliament. It was announced in March 2016 that Jackie Kay would be the third Scottish Makar, having been preceded by Edwin Morgan and then Liz Lochhead.
  3. The dedicated artwork was the creation of Cristina Spiteri and Susanna Murphy, who run Bright Side Studios.

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