The Register of the Great Seal is Scotland’s oldest national record.
The seal is applied to documents authorised by the monarch, with the register containing a record of these documents. The register has existed in varying states and levels of completeness for some 700 years.
The Great Seal is used to cast a wax seal, which is affixed to official documents as part of their authentication. One side features the reigning monarch, while the other depicts the Royal Arms as used in Scotland.
The Act of Union in 1707 abolished the Great Seal of Scotland, appointing instead a different seal to be used in relation to documents that had, up to that point, usually passed the Great Seal. In practice this replacement seal is also referred to as the Great Seal.
The First Minister of Scotland is the Keeper of the Great Seal. The Keeper of the Registers of Scotland is the Deputy Keeper of the Great Seal, and is in practice responsible for its use.
Documents can only pass under the Great Seal on the authority of the Monarch. These documents are signed by the Deputy Keeper of the Great Seal, or an authorised substitute.
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