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Posts Tagged ‘National Museum of Scotland’

Having not long returned from an all-women discussion on the Scottish Independence Referendum, organised by Women for Independence, and thus being very inspired and much better-informed, how could tonight’s Mid-week Museum post not be about a Scottish work of art?

The Monymusk Reliquary, National Museum of Scotland, c.700 A.D. (wood covered in bronze and silver plates)

The Monymusk Reliquary, National Museum of Scotland, c.700 A.D. (wood covered in bronze and silver plates)

The Monymusk Reliquary dates from the 8th century, and gets its name from Monymusk House, where it was kept for an unknown number of years before being acquired by the National Museum of Scotland in 1933. (more…)

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Today’s “Medieval Monday” post needs must be brief. I have spent a lovely long weekend with family and friends, and don’t want to spend the last few hours thereof before I depart sitting at the computer. Happily, I managed to get some inspiration for this post from a fascinating visit to the Amazing Amber exhibition at the National Museum of Scotland. We learned that, in Scottish folk tradition, it was believed that amber had magical powers of protection. “Lammer” (from the French l’ambre) beads were worn as charms against illness. It also seems to have been considered as protection against witches.

Egerton 747 f. 51 Moly, Amber, and Laudanum, from the British Library Catalogue of Illuminated Manuscripts

But amber has not just been a friend to my people. Today’s exhibition mentioned amber in Italy, Norway, and the Balkans, to give just a few examples. It even seems that Canada has the amber most suited, in chronological terms, to actually making Jurassic Park’s use thereof credible. The British Library’s Tractatus de herbis (Herbal); De Simplici Medicina ; Circa instans; Antidotarium Nicolai, by Bartholomaei Mini de Senis, Platearius, and Nicolaus of Salerno, includes on f.51 (see the image to the left of this text) a picture of amber resin on the tree. I’ve always loved medieval herbals, for the beauty of their illustrations and the wealth of information which they can bring to bear on even the slimmest of medieval texts. Amazing Amber may be my way back into that aspect of medieval research, along with my ongoing reading of medieval gardens.

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