Department of History

Third-year history students visit Parker Library for manuscript discovery session

Two students looking at a manuscript rested on a cushion in a library.

Two students looking at manuscripts

On 12 February, four of our third-year history students visited the Parker Library at Corpus Christi College, Cambridge for a manuscript discovery session. This was led by Dr Samuel Cardwell and Tuija Ainonen from the Parker Library. The students are all taking a third-year special subject on ‘the Age of Bede’, which explores English history from 600 to 800CE. 

After an introduction to the handling of medieval manuscripts from Ms Ainonen and a discussion of the individual manuscripts with Dr Cardwell, the students got the chance to turn the pages themselves.

They examined four early English manuscripts. An eighth century copy of Pope Gregory the Great’s homilies, a tenth century copy of Bede’s Life of Saint Cuthbert with a remarkable contemporary portrait of Æthelstan (who was the first king of England), and an eleventh-century copy of the Old English translation of Bede’s Ecclesiastical History of the English People. There was also a fragile Gospel book from around 700CE, known as the Northumbrian Gospels. It was a remarkable treat to handle such a precious manuscript. 

One student was excited to discover a runic inscription in one of the manuscripts, probably added by an early-modern antique collector. Along with the visit to the Parker Library, the students also had a chance to see King’s College and the Anglo-Saxon tower of St Bene’t’s Church, the oldest building in Cambridge. The trip was funded generously by the Student Experience Fund (SEF).

Posted on Wednesday 14th February 2024

Department of History

University of Nottingham
University Park
Nottingham, NG7 2RD

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