Summary of papers

Jiří Vnouček (Royal Library Copenhagen & University of York)

Jiří Vnouček discussed his research on ‘Making Insular parchment’, and explained the key differences in the manufacture of ‘Insular’ calf parchment (often called vellum) and ‘Continental’ sheep parchment. He demonstrated variations in their qualities with samples of modern parchment that he had made and brought with him.

JV has examined the membrane used in hundreds of manuscripts, including many early insular manuscripts. At the workshop, he announced an important discovery about the Codex Amiatinus, which was made at Bede's monastery of Wearmouth Jarrow in the early eighth century. The Codex Amiatinus was one of three complete Bible pandects made at the monastery, and is one of the most important early copies of the Bible, preserving one of the purest versions of the Vulgate Latin translation. Fragments of the other two Bibles from Wearmouth Jarrow survive in the British Library where they are known as the Ceolfrith Leaves. The Codex Amiatinus itself, however, is one of the treasures of the Medici collection in the Bibliotheca Medicea Laurenziana (Florence, Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana, MS. Amiatino I); Bede's abbot Ceolfrith left Jarrow for Rome in 716, taking the Amiatinus with him as a gift for the pope, Gregory II who had been in charge of the papal library before assuming St Peter's chair.

JV's research shows convincingly that the Amiatinus was not written on calf parchment, as previously thought, but on a mixture of sheep and, mostly, goat parchment, manufactured according to Italian methods. He argued that is likely the parchment was imported from Italy rather than produced in Northumbria. The decision to produce the Codex Amiatinus on Italian parchment matches the clear ‘Romanizing’ character of the book in script, illumination, and textual affiliation, as appropriate for a book intended for the Pope. This contrasts with the membrane used for the other Ceolfrith bibles made at Wearmouth Jarrow; for these books, 'traditional' insular calf parchment was used.

JV also pointed out that some other Northumbrian codices were made with mixtures of different types of parchment. His forthcoming paper detailing these discoveries is eagerly awaited.

Jiří Vnouček is a PhD student in at the University of York (supervised by Prof. Matthew Collins and Dr Mary Garrison) and is funded by the Department of Preservation at the Royal Library in Copenhagen where he is employed as a Conservator of parchment, paper and bookbinding.


Cornel Dora and Franziska Schnoor (St Gallen Stiftsbibliothek)

Dr Cornel Dora and Franziska Schnoor discussed the Insular Manuscripts that are extant in the St Gallen Stiftsbibliothek, and the range of evidence for contact with Ireland and Anglo-Saxon England, including famous list of Libri scottice scripti (860-865), and the 10th century entries in the St Gallen Liber Vitae referring to Æthelstan and his court.  Slides from their presentation are available here .

Dr Cornel Dora is Librarian (Stiftsbibliothekar), and Franziska Schnoor is Research Associate (Wissenschaftliche Mitarbeiterin) at the St Gallen Stiftsbibliothek.

Workshop 1 participants

Workshop 1 participants: Bernard Meehan, Chris Scheirer, Julia Crick, Bernhard Zeller, Michael Gullick, David Ganz, Franziska Schnoor, Richard Gameson, Jiri Vnoucek, Colleen Curran, Tim O'Neill, Cornel Dora, Tessa Webber, Rebecca Lawton, Calire Breay, Rosamond McKitterick. (plus: Pragya Vohra, Charlotte Denoel, Dáibhí Ó Cróinín)

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