Three of the most important documents in the history of Gaelic Scotland may soon return home to the Highlands and Islands in a unique touring exhibition.

Ironically, one, framed 400 years ago and written in Scots, has long been regarded as having the specific intention of destroying the Gaelic society of the old clan lands. Leading figures in the Gaelic world yesterday welcomed the award of the Big Lottery grant of £9445, which will enable the appointment of an expert to study the feasibility of a project which would enable the three key pieces of documentary evidence, never before seen together, to leave their Central Belt homes.

Possible locations for the exhibitions include Iona, Islay, Inverness, Skye, Uist and Stornoway.

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The documents are: the Fernaig Manuscript, collected between 1688 and 1693; The Islay Charter of 1408; and The Statutes of Iona 1609.

The Fernaig Manuscript is one of the outstanding collections of early Gaelic verse, compiled by Duncan Macrae of Inverinate in Kintail. The two small volumes had been missing for many years until found in 1807.

The Islay Charter is the only Gaelic language land charter in existence and the earliest complete example of the public use of Gaelic in the 15th century.

The notorious Statutes of Iona of 1609, according to the orthodox historical view , date back to when the clan chiefs were ordained to gather on Iona and obliged to sign a document intended to change the culture in the Highlands to make them more "civilised" like Lowland Scotland.