THE BRITISH LIBRARY

Medieval manuscripts blog

Bringing our medieval manuscripts to life

Introduction

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

23 November 2014

Nine-month Internship in the Ancient, Medieval and Early Modern Manuscripts Section

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The British Library is pleased to be able to offer a paid internship in the Ancient, Medieval and Early Modern Manuscripts section of the Western Heritage Department for a doctoral or post-doctoral student in History, History of Art or other relevant subject.

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Gorleston Psalter, England (Suffolk), 1310-1324, Add MS 49622, f. 193v

The intern will be involved in all aspects of the work of the Ancient, Medieval and Early Modern Manuscripts section, including responding to enquiries, providing talks for students and patrons, selecting and presenting manuscripts for display in our exhibition gallery, and cataloguing, thereby gaining insight into various curatorial duties and aspects of collection care. During the internship at the Library, the intern will enjoy privileged access to printed and manuscript research material, and will work alongside specialists with wide-ranging and varied expertise. 

The primary focus of the internship will be to enhance the online Digitised Manuscripts website by creating and supplementing catalogue entries for medieval manuscripts and accompanying images, and assisting with the Library’s Magna Carta exhibition, working under the supervision of the Lead Curator, Illuminated Manuscripts. 

The internship is designed to provide an opportunity for the student to develop research skills and expertise in medieval and Renaissance art and history, and in presenting manuscripts to a range of audiences.

Candidates

The programme is only open to students who are engaged actively in research towards, or who have recently completed, a PhD in a subject area relevant to the study of pre-1600 manuscripts, and who have a right to work in the UK. 

Hours of Work/Contract Duration

  • 36 hours per week over normal business hours, full time for nine months.
  • The internship will start on 2 February 2015 or as soon as relevant security checks have been completed. 

Applications are available on the British Library’s website, http://www.bl.uk/careers/index.html.

Closing Date: 18 December 2014

Interview Date: 7 January 2015

The selection process may include questions about the date, origin and decoration of a particular manuscript to be shown at the interview.

 - Kathleen Doyle

21 November 2014

Collaborative Doctoral Partnerships at the British Library

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Opening leaf of the Old English epic poem ‘Beowulf’, 4th quarter of the 10th century or 1st quarter of the 11th century,
Cotton MS Vitellius A XV, f. 132r

This is a reminder that the deadline for applications for a Collaborative Doctoral Partnership at the British Library is 4.00pm on Friday 28th November. There is just one week left to apply – don’t miss out on this fantastic opportunity! 

Six doctoral studentships are up for grabs, fully-funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council and with additional financial support of up to £1,000 per year from the British Library to cover travel and related research costs. 

Each studentship will be jointly supervised by a member of the British Library curatorial team and an academic from a UK Higher Education Institution. There are nine potential research areas that range across the British Library collections, with one for the medieval period: ‘Understanding the Anglo-Saxons: The English and Continental Manuscript Evidence’. 

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Miniature of King Cnut and Queen Aelfgifu/Emma placing a golden cross on an altar, witnessed by Christ in Majesty and Benedictine monks, from the Liber Vitae of New Minster and Hyde, England, S.W. (Winchester) c. 1031,
Stowe MS 944, f. 6r 

The British Library has the largest holdings of Anglo-Saxon manuscripts in the world. We particularly welcome applications relating to network and knowledge exchange across early medieval Europe, the methods of making manuscripts and the development of script, perceptions of the past in Anglo-Saxon England, and comparable topics (see the advertisement for full details). A CDA in this field would fit exactly with the three-year period of research and preparation for the major British Library exhibition on the Anglo-Saxons, which is scheduled to open in October 2018. 

We invite applications from Higher Education Institutions to work with us on this topic. We will select the six proposals with the strongest HEI applications to start in the next academic year, commencing October 2015. HEI applications will be assessed according to the following criteria: 

- development of the research theme;

- the proposed academic supervisor’s research interests and expertise;

- the ability of the proposed Department to support the student;

- and evidence of previous successful collaboration with non-HEI partners. 

The studentships will then be further developed in collaboration with the successful academic partner in each case before being advertised to prospective students. The successful student will contribute to the final agreed research topic. 

For further details and an application form, please visit the British Library’s Collaborative Doctoral Partnerships page.

20 November 2014

Magna Carta Ballot: A Huge Thank You

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We'd like to thank everyone who entered our recent ballot to see the four original 1215 Magna Carta manuscripts, when they are brought together next February for the first time in 800 years. We were overwhelmed by the response: just under 45,000 people entered online, and we received in addition more than 100 postal entries. Everybody at the British Library, Lincoln Cathedral and Salisbury Cathedral really appreciates the efforts made by members of the public to view our precious Magna Cartas.

The ballot is now closed, and the winning entrants are in the process of being selected. You may recall that we were offering 1,215 people the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see the four documents side-by-side. Winners will be contacted between now and 12 December, so please hold tight if you haven't heard from us yet: there's a chance that you may actually be one of the chosen ones!

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Lincoln Cathedral (left), Salisbury Cathedral (middle) and the British Library (right), home to the four surviving manuscripts of the 1215 Magna Carta

A reminder that the winners will view the four 1215 Magna Carta manuscripts at the British Library in London on Tuesday, 3 February 2015. The winners will be given a special introduction to the history and legacy of Magna Carta from historian and TV presenter Dan Jones. They will also each receive a special edition Magna Carta gift bag containing free passes to each of the upcoming exhibitions at the British Library, Lincoln Cathedral and Salisbury Cathedral, plus a Certificate of Attendance, inscribed with the winner’s name and sealed in wax with a special stamp created to mark the day. The event is being sponsored by Linklaters, the global law firm, and we are very grateful for their support.

For anyone who does miss out on this one-off event, remember that all four Magna Carta manuscripts will be on display individually as part of major exhibitions in 2015 at their respective institutions -  the British Library, Lincoln Cathedral and Salisbury Cathedral. See this webpage for more information.

The 800th anniversary of the granting of Magna Carta by King John will be marked worldwide by numerous events and exhibitions, which will be publicised on this blog and via our Twitter account, @BLMedieval. In the meantime, if you'd like to know more about the history of Magna Carta, please see the British Library's dedicated webpages. It's going to be a very exciting year for all of us!