Revisiting Anglo-Saxon Symposia 2002/2018

May 1, 2019 in Abstracts of Conference Papers, British Museum, Conference, Manuscript Studies, The British Library, Uncategorized

Revisiting Beloved Ground

[Published on May 1, 2019]  A personal post by our Director.

A New Look

© The British Library Board, Royal MS 1 E vi, folio 4r. Reproduced by permission

© The British Library Board, Royal MS 1 E vi, folio 4r. The Royal Bible of Saint Augustine’s Abbey, Canterbury. 

We have returned from a trip to London for multiple views of the exhibition of Anglo-Saxon and related manuscripts at The British Library, and for a visit to its companion set of conferences to showcase work by selected elder and younger scholars.

My review does not have the purpose of providing a purview as such of the exhibition or the conferences.  Other venues have provided more-and-less expert evaluations of the exhibition and its scholarly events.

It was lovely to see the manuscripts — in most cases, again, for I have seen them in person in their current collections.  It took decades of travel, decades of dedication, and worth the view.


Suffice it to say that I, for one, can state accurately as well as precisely that, with determination, time, travel funding, part-time work, and perseverence, topped by a deep and abiding love of the subject, along with permission by the custodians, I have been able to examine closely and directly, and to turn the pages of almost all the manuscripts (and many of the documents) on display. A labour of love.

Having the opportunity to view the gathered manuscripts of course demands praise for the organisers of the exhibition and the enlightened donors for its accomplishment. Having the opportunity to attend the conference and to view the exhibition of course commands recognition that I have myself had to pay for that privilege, in travel, housing, conference dues, exhibition entrance, and the like. It is important to record, with thanks, the generous donation of 2 tickets for attendance by a Research Group Associate, which made it possible to continue to view the exhibition in company.

I talk about logistics because these matters, also, matter.

You all who talk, and with reason, about the need to have funding in order to persist and persevere with this and or that field of study, I hear you.  Funding applications, part-time jobs, free-lance work, supposedly ignominious independent scholarly endeavors all must hold their place.  Sometimes hard work.

Center Stage

For me, it was important to see, in person, again, some manuscripts which I love deeply. That comes from close and appreciative knowledge. Did I mention my favorite hashtag. #turnedthepages.  Here, aplenty, in this exhibition, it applies.  And then some.

Plus, the exhibition is nontrivial.  See here:  Anglo-Saxon Manuscripts.

It was a special delight to see as the first images for the concluding plenary lecture such a view, from “my thesis manuscript”, and from such an excellent speaker.

The Thesis is available without charge via British Library Manuscript Royal 1 The Anatomy of an Anglo-Saxon Bible Fragment (1985) or (order no. thesis00342356)

Julia Smith introduces The Royal Bible of Saint Augustine's Anbbey Canterbury in her Plenary Lecture December 2018. Photograph by Mildred Budny

Julia Smith introduces The Royal Bible of Saint Augustine’s Abbey Canterbury in her Plenary Lecture December 2018.

Revisiting the Territory

Interesting, isn’t it, that there remain on the scene in this new “international conference” at The British Library so many Anglo-Saxonists that participated in the 2002 British Museum Symposium of the Research Group on Manuscript Evidence?

2002 Poster in monochrome for the 'Form and Order' Symposium at The British Museum.The 2002 BM Symposium:

Form and Order in the Anglo-Saxon World

Its Program:

2002 BM Program

Its Program Booklet, with Abstracts of Papers:

British Museum Colloquium Booklet

Reception at the 2002 British Museum Colloquium. Photography © Mildred Budny

Reception at the 2002 British Museum Colloquium.

Instructive, don’t you think, that the speakers and presiders from that Colloquium in 2002 are mostly represented among the speakers, presiders, and attendees of the 2018 British Library International Conference?  Here, in the order in which they appeared on our 2002 Program, they are:

Dáibhí Ó Cróinin
Richard Gameson
Rosamond McKitterick
Andy Orchard
Simon Keynes
Helen Gittos
Alan Thacker
Carol Neuman de Vegvar
Michael Ryan
Susan Youngs
James Graham-Campbell
Jane Hawkes
Carol Farr
Nancy Netzer
Mildred Budny
Michael Wood
Elizabeth M. Tyler
Leslie E. Webster

Coffee Break at the 2002 British Museum Colloquium.

Coffee Break at our 2002 British Museum Colloquium.

Some others on our 2002 Program could not be present in 2018 because they had died. We remember them with esteem.

A few others on our 2002 Program did not, alas, feel included sufficiently in 2018 to attend the British Library event.

We remember both events with appreciation for the conversations, presentations, and collegiality.

Coffee Break at the 2002 British Museum Colloquium.

At our 2002 Colloquium.

Reception at the 2002 British Museum Colloquium.

At our 2002 Colloquium Reception:  Sue Youngs and Joyce Hill.  Photograph by Mildred Budny.