Seminar on the Evidence of Manuscripts (May 1989)

August 25, 2016 in Seminars on Manuscript Evidence

1. “Illustrations in Manuscripts
As Evidence for Anglo-Saxon Life”

© The British Library Board, Cotton MS Claudius B IV, folio 19r: Genesis 11. Reproduced by permission.

© The British Library Board, Cotton MS Claudius B IV, folio 19r. Reproduced by permission.

First in the Series of Seminars on the Evidence of Manuscripts
The Parker Library, Corpus Christi College, Cambridge
20 May 1989

[Published on 25 August 2016, with updates]

With invitations to colleagues in various fields, a full day’s seminar took place on Saturday, 20 May 1989 at the Parker Library.  This was long before the rise of digital imaging, digital facsimiles of manuscripts, and the proliferation of manuscript images on the internet.  Let alone a website devoted to that manuscript collection.  We had to, and wished to, look at the books.

That wish, plus application and dedication, had led to the gathering of resources, funding included, for full-time research in that place, alongside its major conservation programme.  In the Spring of 1989, as the first 2 years of this research were rounding out, we were poised to begin, on 1 October, a five-year Research Project on “Anglo-Saxon and Related Manuscripts” supported by the Leverhulme Trust.

The Approach

On the day of the Seminar, there gathered specialists in archaeology, linguistics, library history, architectural history, manuscript studies, Anglo-Saxon manuscripts, and related fields.  There came R.I. Page (Parker Librarian), David Wilson, Christine Fell, Richard Gem, Martin Carver, James Graham-Campbell, Leslie Webster, and Mildred Budny (Senior Research Associate at the Parker Library and now the Director of the Research Group on Manuscript Evidence).  The aim was to bring together different forms of expertise, both “bookish” and practical, to consider illustrations in the manuscripts themselves as witnesses for daily life, Anglo-Saxon in particular.

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