Durham Cathedral have been exploring some of the gems in the Priory Library in their latest blog post, for the Heritage Open Days festival 2020. You can find out more about some of our most famous and popular manuscripts, such as the Durham Gospels and Hunter 100. Visit the Cathedral’s blog to read this post.
Our friends at Durham Cathedral have been ‘Exploring a 13th century library book’ in their latest blog post, shedding some light on Durham Cathedral Library MS. C.IV.17 – ‘Aristotle, Logica nova’, which we digitised back in 2016. Visit Durham Cathedral’s blog to read more.
Durham Cathedral Library MS. B.II.35 Bede and other historical texts
This week will be our last ‘Colour your own medieval manuscript’ for the time being (until we can digitise some more manuscripts and find more images that need colouring!). We are ending on a high note with not one, but FIVE uncoloured initials from Durham Cathedral Library MS. B.II.35 Bede and other historical texts.
If you want to colour in an original full page, we have given you the largest of the letters to download, which already has a few highlights in red and green ink. The colouring book style version contains all five letters, with a little of the neighbouring text.
Durham Cathedral Library MS. B.II.35 contains a number of different works, but all of our letters come from Bede’s Historia ecclesiastica, which he completed in 731. This manuscript dates from the 11th century and was given to Durham Priory Library by William of St Calais, who became Bishop of Durham in 1080. Although the first initial in this book (on f.38v) was coloured in red, green, and blue ink, the others were only drawn out in brown and, occasionally, red ink:
These initials are similar to those in another of the books donated by William of St Calais, a Bible created in Normandy in the late 11th century, known as Durham Cathedral Library MS. A.II.4 – Bible of William of St Calais. This manuscript is lavishly decorated throughout, but here is one particularly spectacular example:
We hope you have enjoyed our ‘Colour your own medieval manuscript’ series, we have certainly enjoyed looking at our manuscripts in a slightly different light! Digitisation has not yet resumed, but we hope it will do soon, and in the meantime, we will continue to highlight our collections and post project updates on this blog, and on Twitter (Durham Cathedral Library: @BedesBooks and Palace Green Library: @PalaceGreenLib).
Durham Cathedral Library MS A.III.4 – Kings, glossed; Benjamin minor
We are back to initial letters again this week and we have a small but perfectly formed ‘E’ for you (so small, we have made it a bit bigger in the colouring book style version, and left a space for you to add your own flourishes or illuminations – a drawing of the ageing King David perhaps?). Like our last letter, this one appears to have been missed out even though others in Durham Cathedral Library MS A.III.4 Kings, glossed; Benjamin minor have been coloured (f.4v, f.37r, f.105r, and f.136r).
Our E for ‘Et’ begins the first verse of III Kings (also known as 1 Kings in modern Bibles (after 1516), where the first and second Books of Kings are known as 1 Samuel and 2 Samuel, and the third and fourth are known as 1 Kings and 2 Kings) which reads:
Et rex David senuerat, habebatque aetatis plurimos dies, cumque operiretur vestibus, non calefiebat.
Now King David was old and advanced in years. And although they covered him with clothes, he could not get warm.1 Kings 1:1 English Standard Version
If you have not already coloured in the image of David from Durham Cathedral Library MS B.II.30 Cassiodorus on the Psalms, take a look at Part 3 of ‘Colour your own medieval manuscript’.
Stylistically, our E contains foliate curls and entwined tubes which end in what are officially designated ‘beast heads’. The Digitisation Team has been arguing about what precisely these ‘beasts’ are. Wolves, sheep, dragons, and llamas have been suggested. What do you think?
Next week, we will have a whole page of uncoloured letters for you from Bede and other historical texts!
Durham Cathedral Library MS B.II.30 Cassiodorus on the Psalms
We have a slightly different task for you this week, as we can’t really claim that this lovely image of David (written in the circle he is holding) is unfinished, but as you can see, it is rather faded, and in need of a little attention. You might like to do a ‘sympathetic restoration’ of this one, or on the other hand, you could just give it a vibrant and flamboyant overhaul!
Durham Cathedral Library MS B.II.30 Cassiodorus on the Psalms is a local manuscript, produced in Northumbria in the second quarter of the 8th century. In our image, David is shown standing on a two-headed serpent, holding a spear. There is another image of King David in the same volume on f.81v, in which he is shown seated on a throne, playing a harp. Thanks to the wonders of technology you can examine both images side by side in our IIIF Mirador viewer (you can do this by clicking the ‘Change Layout’ button and selecting the arrangement of new windows to open):
For comparison, here is another image of David, in Durham Cathedral Library MS A.II.9 – Peter Lombard, In Psalmos f.63r. In this lovely historiated initial, he is being anointed by Samuel, with an attendant holding a crown to the right.
We hope you are enjoying colouring in and exploring our manuscripts. We have a few more for you in the coming weeks, as we keep our fingers crossed that we’ll be able to get back to digitisation soon. Next week, we will have another initial letter, a beautiful ‘E’ this time.