Scribal Arts

Calligraphy, illumination, paper making, bookbinding, printing, and related sciences and arts

Letters of Wallace and Robert the Bruce on display at Stirling Castle

700 years ago the fate of Scotland was being decided. Now, history buffs will be able to read the words of those concerned in the historic events at an exhibit of letters of Robert the Bruce, William Wallace, and others, at Stirling Castle. The exhibition runs until June 2014. (photo)

State Library of Victoria completes digitization project

The State Library of Victoria in Melbourne, Australia has just completed a project to digitize medieval and renaissance manuscripts from its own collection as well as some from the Ballarat Fine Art Gallery. The manuscripts are available to view on the library's website.

It's six books in one!

Medieval bookbinders may have been the precursors of eReaders when they developed the dos-à-dos (or "back-to-back") book with two or more separate texts and multi-hinged covers. One example is the beautiful devotional dos-à-dos book owned by the National Library of Sweden which includes six works. (photos)

Kitty 1; scribe 0

Any cat owner who participates in needlework or scribal arts will sympathize with a 15th century Dutch monk who indicated a stain on his work and wrote "Cursed be the pesty cat that urinated over this book." (photo)

"Cradle of the law" to display Magna Carta

In 1214, English barons met in Suffolk to discuss King John and the Magna Carta, a year before it was signed in Surrey. Now the Bury Society will celebrate the event with a display of an original copy of the document at St Edmundsbury Cathedral in Bury St Edmunds.

Illuminated almanac: 15th century iPad?

The Wellcome Library has acquired a rare medical almanac, a "combined calendar, astrological chart and medical textbook," that compacts into a small, folded strip, for UK£100,000 from the Edith Sitwell collection. The illuminated alamnac is believed to have been produced in an English workshop in the early 15th century. (photo)

Matilda Bosvyle de Bella Acqua made Laurel in AEthelmearc

Kameshima Zentarou Umakai, Silver Buccle Principal Herald, reports that at Their Court at the Feast of the Seven Deadly Sins, Their Majesties Timothy and Gabrielle, of the Kingdom of AEthelmearc, offered elevation to the order of the Laurel to Mistress Matilda Bosvyle de Bella Acqua.

Life of King Sawlu told on tablet

Archaeologists working at a site near Mandalay, Burma are excited by the discovery of a 900-year-old stone tablet describing the life of little known Burmese king Sawlu. The tablet acknowleges that the king "ruled the nation by the teachings of Lord Buddha" and mentions a monastery built by donations from Sawlu's wife. (photo)

Cambridge hopes to acquire Codex Zacynthius

In 1821, the Bible Society, in Swindon, England was presented with the Codex Zacynthius, a 6th or 7th century Gospel of Luke. Now the Society is offering the Bible for sale, with Cambridge University as its buyer of choice. In order to acquire the manuscript, Cambridge will need to raise UK£1.1m. (photo)

"Honor and respect" demonstrated at museum medieval fair

The Canton Museum of Art in Canton, Ohio recently held an exhibition entitled Illuminating the World: The Saint John's Bible, centered around a display of the Saint John's Bible, a medieval bible made with modern techniques. In conjunction with the exhibit, the museum hosted a medieval festival featuring members of the Marche of Alderford, the local chapter of the SCA. (photo)

Upcoming Known World events

Master Raven Mayne reports that several Known World events for the Society for Creative Anachronism have been scheduled for 2014.

Book of Aneirin goes online

The National Library of Wales has announced that it has made the 13th century Book of Aneirin available online. The manuscript, scribed by monks onto animal skin, is regarded as one of the most important books in the Welsh language.

Lewis-Gibson Genizah Collection: "a unique and vibrant window into a lost age"

In 1896, twin sisters Agnes Smith Lewis and Margaret Dunlop Gibson brought a collection of Hebrew and Arabic manuscripts from Egypt and deposited them at the United Reform Church's Westminster College in England. Recently Oxford and Cambridge Universities teamed to buy the collection at auction for UK£1.2m.

Geneva Breeches Bible stolen from Welsh church

Thieves of a rare 16th century bible must have had a guilty conscience when they left a modern replacement bible in a locked case in St Mary's church in Trefriw, Wales. The Geneva Breeches Bible was produced by Protestants in Switzerland in 1589.

Steppes 12th Night 2013 photos online

Caelin on Andrede reports that he has created two large albums of photos from Steppes 12th Night which took place recently in the Kingdom of Ansteorra. The photos are available on Flickr.

Drachenwald Winter 2014 Coronation photos online

Bridget Greywolf reports that she has created an album of photos from  Drachenwald 2014 Winter Coronation which took place recently in Sweden. The photos are available on her public Facebook page.

Vatican teams with Bodleian for US$3.2 million digitization project

Thanks to a US$3.2 million grant from the Polonsky Foundation, rare manuscripts from the University of Oxford's Bodleian Library and the Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana will be digitized and made available online through both libraries. NPR's Annaliese Quinn has the story and interview.

3D X-ray to reveal secrets of "unreadable" scroll

"Having the chance to unlock a part of Norfolk history which has been closed to us for maybe hundreds of years feels very special," said Gary Tuson, from the Norfolk Records Office about plans to x-ray a 15th century scroll that is too delicate to unroll.

Old Masters Week to feature sale of the Rothschild Prayerbook

Representatives from Christie's auction house in New York have announced that the centerpiece of its January 2014 Old Masters Week auctions will be The Rothschild Prayerbook, considered to be "the finest illuminated manuscript in private hands." The manuscript was created for a member of the Dutch court in 1505. (photo)

What's with the snails?

In a blog article for Smithsonian, Colin Schultz wonders why in English manuscripts from the 13th and 14th centuries, knights are always fighting snails. (photos)

Medieval Handwriting: a Google app

Google has annonced that it now has an Android app for Medieval Handwriting.

The allure of the sea monster

For medieval people, the ocean was the ultimate mystery, as were the creatures that lived there - in truth and in the imagination. Many of these creatures were depicted on medieval maps, the subject of two new books reviewed on Smithsonian's Collage of Arts and Sciences blog.

House Book of York on display at Yorkshire Museum

The civic archive of the city of York, England has loaned the 15th century House Book of the city to the Yorkshire Museum until December 2013. The book will be on display for the first time in history. The manuscript details public opinion of King Richard III.

Left-handers not barred from calligraphy

Some left handers may find that calligraphy is very difficult, since the hand tends to drag across the work, but Patricia Lovett may have the answer in a short video on her blog.

15th century "pop-up" book

On his Tumblr page, Dutch book historian Erik Kwakkel features a 15th century "pop-up" book, complete with a three dimensional illustration of the phases of the moon. (photo)

New sources on the Battle of Crécy

The October 2013 issue of History Today magazine features an article by Richard Barber which looks at recently discovered sources on the Battle of Crécy (1346). An excerpt from Edward III and the Battle of Crécy is available free online. The entire article is reserved for subscribers to the magazine. (photo)

The light of medieval times

In a 2013 paper, published in volume 4 of i-Perception on perceptionweb.com, Claus-Christian Carbon and Pia Deininger look at the role and perception of light in the medieval world. The paper is entitled Golden perception: Simulating perceptual habits of the past.

Hobby Lobby president purchases world's oldest Jewish prayer book

“This is the oldest Jewish prayer book known to exist in the world,” said Steven Green, the president of the retail chain Hobby Lobby, on the purchase of a 9th century parchment manuscript. Green, a collector of religious artifacts, plans to donate the book, along with his collection to the new Museum of the Bible in Washington, D.C.

Lindisfarne Gospels turn over a new leaf

It's a time for celebration in Durham, England, as a page is turned in the 1,300-year-old Lindisfarne Gospels. Carefully-regulated, early visitors viewed two pages of the open book: the Canon Tables, but for the remainder of the exhibition, the book will be opened to a portrait of St John the Evangelist. (photo)

Illumination meets graffiti to celebrate the Lindisfarne Gospels

Dutch graffiti artist Niels Meulman, AKA Shoe, is no stranger to medieval manuscripts, having been inspired by such works as the Irish Gaelic poem Pangur Bán, so it isn't surprising that he has been chosen to help celebrate the return of the Lindisfarne Gospels to the north of England as part of an exhibition.