THE BRITISH LIBRARY

Medieval manuscripts blog

74 posts categorized "Events"

06 September 2016

Greek Manuscripts Conference

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A reminder for your diaries, for everyone who is interested in Greek and Byzantine manuscript culture. The British Library is holding a day conference on our Greek manuscripts on 19 September 2016, featuring an international panel of experts (from the United Kingdom, Greece, Bulgaria and France). This is the culmination of the third phase of our project to digitise all the British Library's Greek manuscripts, and to mark the launch of our fantastic Greek Manuscripts Online Resource.

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The Theodore Psalter, AD 1066: Add MS 19352, f. 100r

We'd love you to be able to join us: you can book your tickets here. You can also book tickets to both the conference and an evening lecture by Michael Wood at a reduced rate. Not only will you hear discussion of illuminated manuscripts, palimpsests and Greek written culture, but coffee, a sandwich lunch and a reception are also provided to those attending the conference.

Please don't delay, book today. Places are limited, so don't miss out!

 

Greek Manuscripts at the British Library

British Library Conference Centre

19 September 2016

10.00–17.00, followed by a optional evening lecture by Michael Wood, The Wisdom of the Greeks (18.30–20.00)

Programme

10:00–11:00
Registration and Coffee
11:00–11:30
Welcome: Scot McKendrick (British Library)

Session 1

Chair: Peter Toth (British Library)

11:30–12:00
Sebastian Brock (University of Oxford): Greek Undertexts in Syriac Manuscripts from Egypt in the British Library
12:00–12:30
Elizabeth Jeffreys (University of Oxford): A New Planet Swims into our Ken: Editing Greek Texts in the Digital Era
12:30–12:45
Lunch (sandwiches provided)

Session 2

Chair: Antony Eastmond (Courtauld Institute)

12:45–2:15
Georgi Parpulov (Plovdiv, Bulgaria): Illuminated Byzantine Manuscripts – Digitized
2:15–2:45
Maria Georgopoulou (Gennadius Library, Athens): British Collectors of Greek Manuscripts: A Glimpse from Athens
2:45–3:15
Tea

Session 3

Chair: André Binggeli (Institut de Recherche et d’Histoire des Textes, Paris)

3:15–3:45
Christopher Wright and Philip Taylor (Royal Holloway, University of London): An electronic edition of a post-Byzantine Greek manuscript of the British Library (Royal MS 16 C X)
3:45–4:15
Charlotte Roueché (King’s College London): Linked Data: The Role of Manuscripts
4:15–4:30
Break
4:30–5:15
An end or just a beginning? Discussion on prospects for digitization and cataloguing, introduced and moderated by André Binggeli and Charlotte Roueché
5:15–6:15
Reception for conference participants

Public Lecture

6:30–8:00
Michael Wood: The Wisdom of the Greeks

Abstracts and Biographies

Greek Undertexts in Syriac Manuscripts from Egypt In the British Library

Almost all Syriac manuscripts earlier than the 12th century have been transmitted through two monastic libraries in Egypt: St Catherine’s Monastery, Sinai, and Deir al-Surian in the Nitrian Desert. The latter was the source of much of the British Library’s extensive collection of Syriac manuscripts, and among them are some 65 palimpsests, the subject of this paper. Although for the most part the undertexts are in Syriac or Christian Palestinian Aramaic, in a number of manuscripts it is Greek (in one case, Homer).

Sebastian Brock is a former Reader in Syriac Studies at the University of Oxford’s Oriental Institute and a Professorial Fellow at Wolfson College.

A New Planet Swims into our Ken: Editing Greek Texts in the Digital Era

This paper will consider the Greek manuscripts in the digitization programme: what they are, how are they accessed, and what can one do with them. There will be a focus on the manuscripts collected by Frederick North, 5th Earl of Guilford (d. 1827).

Elizabeth Jeffreys was Bywater and Sotheby Professor of Byzantine and Modern Greek Language and Literature, University of Oxford, and Fellow of Exeter College, Oxford, 1996–2006. She is now Emeritus Professor and Emeritus Fellow of Exeter College.

Illuminated Byzantine Manuscripts – Digitized

Manuscript digitization is of enormous benefit to those who are primarily concerned with the physical appearance of books rather than their textual contents. In the miniatures of Add MS 11870, the peculiar manners of different artists can be distinguished. Add MS 36928 shows how a scribe and a miniature painter collaborated. The richly illustrated and as yet unstudied Egerton MS 3157 reminds us that digital images ought to be supplemented with relevant catalogue information.

Georgi Parpulov studies Greek and Slavonic Manuscripts, Byzantine Palaeography and codicology, and Bulgarian history with a special focus on illuminated manuscripts.

British Collectors of Greek Manuscripts

John Gennadius assembled an extensive collection of Greek manuscripts from the 1870s onwards when he held a diplomatic post in London. Some of the most important manuscripts in his collection are now at the Gennadius Library in Athens, several examples of which belonged to Lord Guilford.

Maria Georgopoulou is director of the Gennadius Library, The American School of Classical Studies at Athens, Greece. Her publications focus on the artistic and cultural interactions of Mediterranean peoples in the Middle Ages.

An electronic edition of a post-Byzantine Greek manuscript of the British Library (Royal MS 16 C X)

Dr George Etheridge, former Regius Professor of Greek at Oxford, addressed a Greek Encomium to Queen Elizabeth I on King Henry VIII for the Queen’s visit to Oxford in 1566. It is now uniquely preserved in Royal MS 16 C X. The electronic edition of the text employs an original interface that graphically links words or phrases in the digitized manuscript image with their counterparts in the transcribed or edited Greek text and in the English translation, supported by multiple dynamic scholarly apparatus including a lexical analysis of each word with direct links to several online dictionaries. This exploratory editorial project is accessible at http://hellenic-institute.rhul.ac.uk/Research/Etheridge/.

Christopher Wright is a research fellow at the Hellenic Institute in the Department of History, Royal Holloway, University of London.

Philip Taylor is an Honorary Research Associate at Hellenic Institute of the Royal Holloway, University of London.

Linked Data: The role of manuscripts – or Now What?

The Greek manuscripts project makes rich materials available to a worldwide audience. Manuscripts are bearers of meaning: the challenge now is for those who have the expertise to make this meaning apparent, to ensure that these are more than just images. But no one person – or even group of people – has all the relevant knowledge. Instead, in the spirit in which Tim Berners-Lee developed the web, we need to think in terms of Linked Open Data. We need to link this material to other resources which can enhance what we see. The modern owner of a manuscript might be linked to an entry in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography; earlier owners, or scribes, might be linked to their entries in one of the series of Byzantine prosopographies. Locations can be linked to an online gazetteer. As resources develop, it will be increasingly possible to link manuscripts to the texts which are based on them: the pioneering work here has been done by the Homer Multitext Project. This is just a beginning!

Charlotte Roueché is an Emeritus Professor in the Department of Classics at King’s College London. For many years she has explored the use of digital tools for the analysis and publication of Greek texts. She is particularly concerned with using the Internet to bring the highest possible level of scholarship to the widest possible audience.

Closing Discussion: An end or just a beginning?

What are the implications of making these rich materials available online? How can we support scholars in exploiting them? What will the ordinary reader need? How will we keep track of what journeys our manuscripts now undertake?

— @BLMedieval

31 August 2016

The Wisdom of the Greeks

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Tickets are selling fast for a special lecture at the British Library on 19 September. Michael Wood, television presenter, writer and Professor of Public History, will be speaking on The Wisdom of the Greeks in an evening event held at our conference centre. He promises to examine how the legacy of Greece and Byzantium in science, religion and literature was transmitted to the Latin West, and to tell fascinating stories about texts and ideas, scribes and scholars. There may even be references to Anglo-Saxon kings, Crusader knights and Renaissance humanists!

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Michael's talk will be the conclusion of our Greek Manuscripts in the British Library conference, to be held that same day. This event marks the completion of the third phase of our Greek Manuscripts Digitisation Project and the launch of the Greek Manuscripts Online web resource. The day itself starts with an academic conference, including invited experts, to discuss a variety of topics related to the British Library’s digitised Greek collections, such as Greek-Syriac palimpsests, Byzantine illuminated manuscripts, Greek written culture and the digital humanities and the cultural interactions between Greece and Britain. The conference runs from 10.00 to 1700, and attendees can purchase a ticket to the evening talk at a reduced rate.

The Wisdom of the Greeks by Michael Wood is on 19 September 2016 (18.30–20.00), and tickets are £10 (£7 for under 18s, with other concessions available).

30 June 2016

Greek Manuscripts in the British Library: Conference and Public Lecture in September

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To mark the completion of the third phase of the Greek Manuscripts Digitisation Project and the launch of the Greek Manuscripts Online web resource, the British Library is hosting a one-day conference devoted to Greek Manuscripts on 19 September, 2016. Confirmed participants include Sebastian Brock (Oxford), Charalambos Dendrinos (Royal Holloway), Elizabeth Jeffreys (Oxford), Charlotte Roueché (King’s College London), Maria Georgopoulou (Gennadius Library, Athens) and Giorgi Parpulov (Plovdiv, Bulgaria). Speakers will discuss a variety of topics related to the Library’s digitised Greek collections, such as Greek-Syriac palimpsests, Byzantine illuminated manuscripts, Greek written culture and the digital humanities and the cultural interactions between Greece and Britain.

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Page from the Theodore Psalter, Constantinople, February 1066, Add MS 19352, f. 36r

The conference will be accompanied by an evening lecture by Michael Wood on ‘The Wisdom of the Greeks’. Michael will be looking at how the legacy of Greece and Byzantium in science, religion and literature was transmitted to the Latin West. Fascinating stories about texts and ideas, scribes and scholars will come to life in the course of this illustrated talk that will include Anglo-Saxon kings, Crusader knights and Renaissance humanists - and even a well-known Elizabethan dramatist!

Please book your place in advance and register online at http://www.bl.uk/events/greek-manuscripts-in-the-british-library-day-ticket . The full programme can be found here:  Download British Library Greek Conference Schedule.

~Peter Toth

03 December 2015

Postgraduate Open Day on our Pre-1600 Collections

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Booking has opened for the British Library’s first open day dedicated to postgraduates working on our pre-1600 western heritage collections. The open day will be held on Monday 1st February 2016 and is aimed at first year PhD students who are new to the Library. You can reserve a place on our website now at http://www.bl.uk/events/pre-1600-collections.

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Papyrus deed of sale of a slave boy (P. Lond. I 229), with original seals, Syria, 24 May 166, Papyrus 229

The open day will introduce our very wide ranging manuscript and early printed collections to students working on history, literature, the history of art, religion, and the history of science and medicine. The day will help students to understand the practicalities of using our collections in their research and to find out about our catalogues and other online resources. In the afternoon there will be an opportunity to meet several curators who work with pre-1600 manuscripts and printed books, and to have a look at some collection items. There will also be sessions led by reading room staff and by one of the Library’s digital curators.

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Map of the known world, from the Map Psalter, England, 1262-1300, Add Ms 28681, f. 9r

The pre-1600 day is part of an annual series of open days covering different Library collections. The other open days available in 2016 are:

Asian & African Collections – 18 January 2016
News & Media – 25 January 2016 
Music – 05 February 2016
Social Sciences – 12 February 2016
17th & 18th Century Collections – 19 February 2016
19th Century Collections – 22 February 2016
20th & 21st Century Collections – 26 February 2016

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Page of music from Magister Sampson, Benedictus de Opitiis and others, Motets, Antwerp, 1516, Royal MS 11 E XI, f. 4r

To make the most of the day, you may wish to register for a free Reader Pass in advance if you don’t already have one. Each open day costs £5 and includes lunch and refreshments. Booking in advance is essential as a limited number of places is available. We are looking forward to meeting lots of new postgraduate students on 1st February.

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Prologue with woodcut from 2nd edition of Caxton's Chaucer, G.11586, f. 3v

-   Claire Breay, Head of Ancient, Medieval and Early Modern Manuscripts

25 June 2015

Getting Under the Covers of the St Cuthbert Gospel

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This week has seen the launch at the British Library on Monday and at Trinity College, Dublin on Wednesday of a new book, The St Cuthbert Gospel: Studies on the Insular Manuscript of the Gospel of John, edited by Claire Breay, Head of Ancient, Medieval and Early Modern Manuscripts at the British Library, and Bernard Meehan, Head of Research Collections and Keeper of Manuscripts at Trinity College, Dublin. 

New book cover

 

The St Cuthbert Gospel is the earliest intact European book and a landmark in the cultural history of western Europe. Now dated to the early eighth century by Richard Gameson and Leslie Webster, the manuscript contains a beautifully written copy of the Gospel of John in Latin and is famous for the craftsmanship and outstanding condition of its contemporary decorated leather binding. Found in Cuthbert's coffin when it was opened in Durham Cathedral in 1104, the Gospel was acquired for the national collection following a major fundraising campaign in 2011-12.

One of the most exciting aspects of the long preparation for the new book on the Gospel was the day that we took the manuscript to the Natural History Museum for a CT scan. The videos produced from this scan have allowed us to look inside the book as never before, to appreciate the many remarkable features of this manuscript. We were able to examine the extraordinary refinement and careful shaping of the wooden boards, establishing that at their maximum the left (front) board measures only 2.4mm thick and the right (back) board only 1.5mm. We could see the cords beneath the raised frames in the decoration and we could examine for the first time the much-debated foundation material lying beneath the raised plant-motif decoration in the centre of the left cover. Roger Powell had suggested that the foundation material might be cord or leather, while Jim Bloxam and Kristine Rose found more recently (in making a facsimile of the binding which they generously made available to the project) that gesso could be used to produce comparable results. It was immediately apparent from the CT scan that neither cord nor leather had been used for the foundation of the central motif, as it is a clay-like material which completely fills the space between the leather and the board.

Cross-section from CT scan
Cross-section of left board from CT scan, showing clay-like material between the leather and the wooden board.

In the CT scan and in an X-ray image this clay-like material shows as a dull grey, completely different from the gesso used in the most accurate modern facsimile by Rose and Bloxam, which shows as black in the X-ray image.

X-ray of left board (facsimile on left and original on right)
X-ray of left board (facsimile on left and original on right).

Christina Duffy, Imaging Scientist at the British Library, has produced videos of the St Cuthbert Gospel from the CT scan which show the manuscript, its wooden boards, the cords which lie under the raised frames in the decoration and a cross-section through the whole manuscript showing the structure of the book and the raised decoration. You can watch the video (courtesy of Christina Duffy) here:

 

In his chapter in the new book launched this week, Nicholas Pickwoad explains in detail how the central motif on the binding appears to have been made using a matrix, carved with the plant design, to impress the wet leather over the clay-like material on to the wooden board.

This new collection of essays is the most substantial study of the book since the 1960s, and is the culmination of our work to promote new research on the Gospel since its acquisition by the British Library. As well as Nicholas Pickwoad's chapter on the structure and production of the binding, the book includes detailed commentary on: Cuthbert in his historical context by Clare Stancliffe; the codicology, text, script and medieval history of the manuscript by Richard Gameson; the decoration of the binding by Leslie Webster; the Irish pocket Gospels by Bernard Meehan, the other relics found in Cuthbert's coffin by Eric Cambridge; and the post-medieval ownership of the book by Arnold Hunt. The book, which significantly revises the existing scholarship on one of the British Library's most recent acquisitions, is now available through the Library's online shop.

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- Claire Breay

18 March 2015

Magna Carta: A Curators' Eye-View

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Now that our Magna Carta exhibition has finally opened to the public (phew!), we'd like to tell you about a talk by the curators, taking place at the British Library this Friday, 20 March. 'Magna Carta: A Curators' Eye-View' will review how this major exhibition was put together, looking at everything from devising the storyline to choosing the objects and writing the catalogue.

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Revolution Pillar, a parody of the politician Charles James Fox, loaned by the British Museum to the British Library's Magna Carta exhibition

The talk, presented by Julian Harrison (one of the exhibition curators) and Alex Lock (our researcher), is aimed at everyone interested in public history, museum studies and the 800th anniversary of Magna Carta. Julian and his fellow curator, Claire Breay, have spent four years putting the exhibition together, and also edited the catalogue which accompanies it, featuring a picture of almost every exhibit; Alex joined the team in January 2013, and played a crucial role in researching and choosing the items on show, besides contributing two major essays and other entries to the catalogue.

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A 19th-century Worcester porcelain inkstand in the shape of King John's tomb, on loan from the British Museum in our Magna Carta exhibition

We hope that as many people as possible can join us on Friday for this behind-the-scenes look at our Magna Carta show. We're currently putting together the images for our presentation ... we promise you an entertaining and visual feast!

Magna Carta: A Curators' Eye-View takes place at the British Library on 20 March (11.00-12.15), and entry costs £3.

Magna Carta: Law, Liberty, Legacy is on at the British Library until 1 September, and costs £12 (under 18s get free entry, and other concessions are available).

10 February 2015

Magna Carta Under The Proverbial Microscope

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Last Wednesday, a select group of scholars and other interested observers were the first people in 800 years to compare the four surviving 1215 Magna Carta manuscripts side-by-side. This one-off event was held at the British Library, and was part of the Magna Carta unification, sponsored by the global law firm Linklaters. Everyone involved was thrilled to be a part of history and, equally importantly, great strides were made towards learning more about the production and later ownership of these four manuscripts, held respectively by Lincoln Cathedral, Salisbury Cathedral and the British Library. More details will doubtless be published in due course on the Magna Carta Project website. In the meantime, here are some photos of our special day (you get a bonus point if you can identify all of the participants).

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Chris Woods (Lincoln and Salisbury conservator), Nicholas Vincent (University of East Anglia), Tessa Webber (Trinity College, Cambridge) and David Carpenter (King's College, London)

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Edward Probert (Salisbury Cathedral), Louise Wilkinson (Canterbury Christ Church University), Philippa Hoskin (University of Lincoln)

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Tessa Webber, Nicholas Vincent and David Carpenter

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David Carpenter getting to grips with the Lincoln Magna Carta

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Trying to identify the inscription on the back of the 'London' Magna Carta

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The examination continues ...

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The lucky few!

26 January 2015

David Starkey on Magna Carta

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If you've been watching and listening closely, you may have realised by now that the year 2015 marks the 800th anniversary of the granting of Magna Carta. The British Library is heavily involved in these global commemorations — two of the four surviving manuscripts of King John's 1215 Magna Carta are held at the Library — and tonight you can see one of them in a special television documentary presented by David Starkey.

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Tonight's documentary will explore the origins and later uses of this internationally-renowned document, and it will examine Magna Carta's rôle in establishing that everybody, including the king, was subject to the law.

David Starkey's Magna Carta is broadcast on BBC2 at 21:00 (Monday, 26 January). We're really looking forward to seeing our precious manuscripts on television, and we hope that you enjoy seeing them too!

Tickets for our Magna Carta exhibition are now on sale. Magna Carta: Law, Liberty, Legacy opens to the public on 13 March and closes on 1 September. Among the items on show will be the United States Declaration of Independence and the US Bill of Rights, and the unique medieval writ from Hereford Cathedral, ordering the publication of Magna Carta in 1215 ... there's a very good chance that Magna Carta will also be on display, so don't delay, book today!