Around Oxford Hands-On Libraries Palaeography

Show and Tell Manuscript Session in the Bodleian Library

Summary of a Show and Tell session for Henrike Lähnemann’s History of the Book students from the Faculty of Medieval and Modern Languages with Dr Andrew Dunning, R.W. Hunt Curator of Medieval Manuscripts at the Bodleian Library.

Students were asked to prepare a short presentation on one of four manuscripts which had been recently digitised for the Polonsky German digitisation project.

Andrew Dunning wrote: “Be prepared to give a very short explanation for a complete non-specialist, in less than five minutes, of how we can tell when it was made from features of script or layout; and why it’s still here today (‘why this book didn’t die’, in the words of Malcolm Parkes). Try to identify the type of script in the book using the broad categories at Ad Fontes. We’ll also ask you to read a couple sentences from a page of your choice (make note of the folio number you want). You can find a basic introduction to medieval abbreviations here. Don’t worry about having a wrong hypothesis or not being able to identify an abbreviation; palaeography is about developing a thought process as much as anything, and it takes years of practice!”

1. MS. Laud Lat. 102: Evangeliary; Fulda, 9th century, first quarter
digitised * catalogue * blog post

2. MS. Lat. liturg. e. 18: Handbook for the Medingen Provost, around 1478 digitised * catalogue

3. MS. Germ. e. 5: German Miscellany for Dominican Nuns ca. 1395
digitised * catalogue

4. MS. Lat. liturg. f. 4: Latin-German Prayerbook from Medingen ca. 1500 (with older parts)
digitised * catalogue

How to decipher medieval Latin abbreviations

Demonstration of online databases of medieval manuscript abbreviations: An expanded version of the short introduction to abbreviations presented by Andrew Dunning during the manuscript session

Resources mentioned:
Enigma to decipher Latin words which are difficult to read in medieval manuscripts.
Capelli as digital resource (NB: the crowdsourcing was partly done by History of the Book students in 2016!) and as Capelli scan
and the manuscript to demonstrate the resources, a volume from the Cistercian Abbey of Eberbach, Bodleian Library, MS Laud Misc. 250

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