ONE of Scotland’s greatest writers, Robert Louis Stevenson, said it all when he gave his thoughts on the Scots language. “Of a’ the lingo’s [sic] ever prentit, The braidest Scot’s the best inventit,” wrote the author of Treasure Island and Kidnapped.

Stevenson’s work was cited yesterday at the launch of a new project produced by the National Library of Scotland and developed by the nation’s official scriever in Scots, Hamish MacDonald.

Cabinet Secretary for Education John Swinney officially launched a new website that aims to raise awareness of the history, richness and cultural significance of Scots from its use as the language of the state in the Middle Ages to its appearance in 20th-century novels and poetry.

The Wee Windaes website is based on a careful selection of Scots language material from the countless examples in the vast collections of the National Library.

The oldest is a performance poem from the 1440s, The Buke of the Howlat, through to the 20th-century writings of novelist and playwright Jessie Kesson. Examples of contemporary writing will be added as the site develops further.

According to the National Library, Wee Windaes: “shows the use of Scots in many different forms including song, folk tale, scripture, satire, drama, fiction and poetry".

It adds: “The site itself is written in Scots with an English version. Visitors to the site can listen to many examples of spoken Scots as well as reading it in written form.”

Swinney said: “The Scots language is an essential element of our nation’s culture and heritage and this Government is committed to promoting and preserving it in all its distinct regional and local variants, which are spoken by around 1.5 million people. I very much welcome the launch of the Wee Windaes website, which shines a light on the breadth of Scots influence on our rich literary heritage throughout the centuries.”

MacDonald was appointed Scots Scriever in 2015 by Creative Scotland to raise awareness of the language. He is based at the National Library where he has collaborated with the library’s learning team on developing the site. He Hamish MacDonald said: “It is a privilege tae reenge amang the byous National Library collections, whan ilka sairch leads tae some new an unexpectit discovery, shawin throu literature the depth an wunner o a treisured an irreplaceable tung.”

As its name suggests, the site is based on a series of “windaes,” each containing a link to more information about the various texts, most of which are being made available online for the first time. More authors and texts will be added to the site throughout 2017.

The Library will also be participating in a research afternoon for staff and students at the University of Edinburgh to showcase the work being done to promote the Scots language and literature.

National Librarian Dr John Scally said: “The Scots language is very much part of our cultural identity and we are keen to help it thrive.

"By using the website, people will be able to get a better understanding of how Scots has been used and how it has changed over five centuries.”

Janet Archer, chief executive of Creative Scotland, said: “Scots is part of our history and cultural heritage, with rich oral and written traditions that are still very much alive today.

"Wee Windaes is a creative response to Scots collections at the National Library of Scotland and a braw way to give the language further prominence.

“Wee Windaes captures the breadth and variety of Scots, in all its variants and dialects, from its beginnings to the present day and I hope it will inspire the writers of the future to explore the potential of the language.”