Our latest digitisation project has begun as we work to digitise 400 pre-1200 manuscripts from the British Library holdings, with a generous support from The Polonsky Foundation. The joint project between the British Library and the BibliothĂ¨que nationale de France seeks to promote and explore the contacts between France and England from 700 to 1200, as witnessed in medieval manuscript culture. We have already started, and have compiled a list of around 250 manuscripts that are key to the project themes. However, we would welcome ideas from readers about illuminated manuscripts at the British Library that you would like to see digitised.
A glossed copy of De compendiosa doctrina by Nonius Marcellus (British Library, Harley MS 2719, f. 1r) originates from France, either Brittany or Loire, 3rd quarter of the 9th century.
With the wealth of manuscripts from two national libraries, how does one go about choosing the most interesting and vital manuscripts for digitisation? Library catalogues â both published and unpublished â and academic research and publications are a good start, and have yielded plenty of information on wonderful illumination and decoration. We have identified a core of manuscripts we wish to open up for our readers. These will reveal beautiful illuminations and colourful images, and will allow global access to significant medieval copies of interesting texts.
Decorated initial âFâ(actum) in British Library, Harley MS 3020, f. 113r, made in southern England in the 10th century, possibly Christ Church, Canterbury.
One of the goals of the digitisation project is to respond to the needs of scholarly research. Published research tells us what has been studied, but we also want to know what is going to be studied in the future! So we would like to turn to our readers and ask you for nominations â which manuscripts would you like to see digitised? What are the manuscripts that would most illuminate the cultural sphere of England and France between 700 and 1200? We canât promise that your nominated manuscript will be included, as we will need to consider its condition, length and relationship with the other manuscripts to be digitised in each Library, but we will consider all of your submissions carefully.
The opening folio of the Life of Saint Birinus from British Library, Cotton MS Caligula A VIII, f. 121r. The text was copied in England during the 1st quarter of the 12th century, possibly in Winchester.
You can nominate a manuscript for selection by writing to England&France700email@example.com or by commenting on this post. Please suggest a British Library manuscript that was written either in England or France before 1200, and explain its importance to you in a few words. Weâll publish the final list of chosen manuscripts on this blog in the New Year.
Tuija Ainonen, Project Curator
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Part of the Polonsky Digitisation Project