A team of archaeologists led by a researcher from the University of Southampton believe they have found the remains of a long-lost monastery.

The Monastery of Deer in northern Scotland was once home to an ancient publication that features the oldest surviving example of Scots Gaelic.

Gaelic notes appear in the margins of the Book of Deer, a pocket-sized publication written in Latin between 850AD and 1,000AD.

Now archaeologists believe they have unearthed the site of the former monastery. The remnants, near Mintlaw in Aberdeenshire, are 80 metres from the ruins of the 13th century Deer Abbey.

Daily Echo: The ancient Book of Deer features the oldest surviving example of Scots GaelicThe ancient Book of Deer features the oldest surviving example of Scots Gaelic (Image: Midas Media)

Alice Jaspars, a researcher from the archaeology department at the university, worked with the site director, Ali Cameron of Cameron Archaeology.

They will present their findings in a lecture to the Fellows of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland on November 23.

Alice said: "As home to the earliest surviving Scots Gaelic, the Book of Deer is a vital manuscript in Scottish history. While it is not known where the book itself was written, it is believed the Gaelic in its margins was added in the formerly lost Monastery of Deer.

"These addenda include reference to the foundation of the monastery, alongside other land grants in the northeast of Scotland.

"It is now our belief that our 2022 excavation found the lost monastery where these were written. This would not have been possible without the extensive work of our volunteers, and the financial backing of the National Lottery Heritage Fund."

Daily Echo: An aerial view of the former monasteryAn aerial view of the former monastery (Image: Midas Media)

Material uncovered during the dig was carbon-dated and appeared to be the same age as the addenda in the book.

Archaeologists also recovered medieval pottery, fragments of glass, a pointed writing instrument known as a stylus, and a chess-like game that was popular until the Middle Ages.

These and other domestic artifacts found at the site all indicate the presence of a former monastery.

Investigations supported by the Book of Deer Project have been taking place since 2009, with several significant excavations being undertaken in the past eight years.

Daily Echo: Experts carry out a dig at the site of a former monastery in ScotlandExperts carry out a dig at the site of a former monastery in Scotland (Image: Midas Media)

The 2022 dig coincided with the Book of Deer returning to northeast Scotland for the first time in a thousand years. It was displayed in Aberdeen Art Gallery and Museums while on a three-month loan from Cambridge University Library.

Alice said: "The material record of monasteries from this period is so poor that finds such as these can really help to inform our overall academic understanding."