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Posts Tagged ‘Special Collections’

A pair of facing turtle doves in a roundel, f.32r, Aberdeen Bestiary (Aberdeen University Library MS 24). Image via Aberdeen University Library website.

A pair of facing turtle doves in a roundel, f.32r, Aberdeen Bestiary (Aberdeen University Library MS 24). Image via Aberdeen University Library website.

One of the most wonderful sights in this world is the shimmer of gold leaf on a manuscript page as it comes into the light. It is of course most well-known from medieval manuscripts, but has never quite stopped being used altogether. Consider Phoebe Traquair’s illuminated manuscript of Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s Sonnets from the Portuguese. A full page, or a full miniature, with a background of gold leaf, never fails to catch my breath, just for a moment. Thus I have chosen as today’s image of light just such a miniature from the Aberdeen Bestiary (Aberdeen University Library MS 24). This manuscript was produced in the 12th century, and has a most interesting history. It has been fully digitised and is available online here, complete with translations and transcriptions. The birds are beautifully realised and stand out wonderfully against the shimmering gold. I chose the turtle dove image because two of these birds were sent, along with a partridge in a pear tree, to the singer of “The Twelve Days of Christmas, on the second day.

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For the past month or so, I have been receiving emails from Goodreads, asking me to choose my best books of 2014. I never did go to their website to make my choices, as I simply haven’t been reading enough new books thus year. The results of the votes cast by those who did take part are now in, so I have some ready-made reading lists available!

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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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La Belle Iseult (1858) by William Morris (1834-1896).  Oil on canvas. Tate Britain.

La Belle Iseult (1858) by William Morris (1834-1896). Oil on canvas. Tate Britain.

I’ve always been impressed by the (first and second wave) Pre-Raphaelites’ many talents. They were not just artists, and as a lifelong student of languages (medieval languages in particular), William Morris’ work in translating Old French and Old Norse romances and epics, is of particular interest. When I first began researching the use of original medieval works by the Pre-Raphaelites, I was focusing more on such use in their art. Morris’ only painting, of Janey Morris as La Belle Iseult, is an obvious example (look to the left). (more…)

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Image source: CAIS “My Modules” link image

Since I first heard about this course – I think via the Rare Books and Special Collections JISC mailing list – I really wanted to sign up. I managed to be sensible, in terms of time management, and finally registered for the September 2013-January 2014 intake. (more…)

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Thus are the Vikings described by an Irish monk in the 800s, in a short marginal poem in the St Gall Priscian, where he expresses his relief at the stormy seas keeping the long ships at home in Denmark:

The wind is fierce tonight / it tosses the sea’s white mane/ I do not fear the coursing of a quiet sea/ by the fierce warriors of Lochlann.

Is acher in gaíth innocht,
fu·fúasna fairggae findḟolt:
ni·ágor réimm mora minn
dond láechraid lainn úa Lothlind.

(Priscian’s Institutiones Grammaticae known as ‘The St. Gall Priscian, St Gall Stiftsbibliothek MS 904)

Viking shipI went to the British Museum’s Vikings : life and legend exhbition very early last Sunday; the Saharan storms were yet to hit London, so I was confident that the marauders so feared by the anonymous monk would be present. In addition to a lifelong fascination with the Vikings, and with their mythology in particular, I was really looking forward to seeing this exhibition in the new wing of the British Museum. (more…)

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These people are so excited at the thought of new additions to the catalogue, they've planted a tree to commemorate the event (Miniature, f.215, Royal 15 E VI,  Poems and Romances (the 'Talbot Shrewsbury book') France, N. (Rouen); 1444-1445)

These people are so excited at the thought of new additions to the catalogue, they’ve planted a tree to commemorate the event (Miniature, f.215, Royal 15 E VI, Poems and Romances (the ‘Talbot Shrewsbury book’)
France, N. (Rouen); 1444-1445)

Sarah J. Biggs has been blogging about new additions to the Catalogue Illuminated Manuscripts, which started going up on 13 August, almost one week ago. But before you rush off to look at those, I highly recommend Sarah’s excellent introduction to using the digitised illuminated manuscripts at the British Library, through the Catalogue of Illuminated Manuscripts and the fully-digitised manuscripts themselves. Enjoy!

Get Ready to 'Save-As': New Uploads to the Catalogue of Illuminated Manuscripts – Medieval manuscripts blog.

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