Medieval manuscripts blog

Bringing our medieval manuscripts to life


What do Magna Carta, Beowulf and the world's oldest Bibles have in common? They are all cared for by the British Library's Medieval and Earlier Manuscripts Section. This blog publicises our digitisation projects and other activities. Follow us on Twitter: @blmedieval. Read more

01 November 2014

A Calendar Page for November 2014

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For more information about the Huth Hours, please see our post A Calendar Page for January 2014.

These two calendar pages for the month of November show a typical labour for this part of the agricultural season – the fattening of pigs for autumn.  On the opening folio, beneath the beginning of the saints’ days for the month, is a roundel of a peasant in the woods.  He is armed with a long stick, and is engaged in knocking acorns from oak trees to feed the pigs that are rooting around near his feet.   On the following folio, we can see a small miniature of a centaur with a bow and arrow, for the zodiac sign Sagittarius.  Beneath him is another peasant, heading home after a day of feeding pigs.  He looks fairly miserable – understandably enough, as he is walking through a heavy rainstorm.  Surrounding this roundel and the continuation of the saints’ days is a frame made up of golden columns, circled by banners with the initials ‘MY’ and ‘YM’.  These initials might be clues to the original owner of the manuscript, whose identity/identities are still unknown.  For more on this mystery, see here.

Calendar page for November, with a roundel miniature of a man feeding pigs in the woods, from the Huth Hours, Netherlands (Bruges or Ghent?), c. 1480, Add MS 38126, f. 11v

Calendar page for November, with a roundel miniature of a man heading home in a rainstorm, with the zodiac sign Sagittarius, from the Huth Hours, Netherlands (Bruges or Ghent?), c. 1480, Add MS 38126, f. 12r

- Sarah J Biggs

30 October 2014

Guess the Manuscript XVI

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Welcome to the sixteenth instalment of our popular Guess the Manuscript series. The rules are simple: we post an image of part of a manuscript that is on the British Library's Digitised Manuscripts site, you guess which one it's taken from!

Guess the MS
Are you as surprised as we are to find an umbrella in a medieval manuscript? The manuscript from which this image was taken will feature in a blogpost in the near future.

In the meantime, answers or guesses please in the comments below, or via Twitter @BLMedieval.

Good luck!

- Chantry Westwell

28 October 2014

Magna Carta Ballot Closes 31 October

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On 3 February 2015, the four surviving manuscripts of King John's Magna Carta are to be displayed together for the very first time, at the British Library in London. We are currently holding a ballot, in which 1,215 members of the public will win tickets to see the Magna Carta manuscripts side-by-side. But hurry, because the ballot closes on 31 October 2014: don't miss out on your chance to be part of history!


The unification ballot is free to enter. Winners will be welcomed by Dan Jones, historian and TV presenter, and they will receive a special edition gift bag, containing tickets to the forthcoming exhibitions at the British Library, Lincoln Cathedral and Salisbury Cathedral, together with a Certificate of Attendance, sealed in wax with a special stamp. This one-off, one-day event is sponsored by Linklaters, and will mark the beginning of global celebrations to commemorate the 800th anniversary of the granting of Magna Carta in 1215.

So if you want to be one of the lucky few who will see all four Magna Carta manuscripts together next February, don't delay, apply today!