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Material Evidence on Manuscript Fragments

The aim of this research is to identify the material evidence on the fragments, which will help researchers recover and understand their history.

Presentation by Jennifer Murray - PhD student based at the UAL Ligatus research centre.

In the 16th and 17th centuries, discarded medieval manuscripts were frequently recycled as components of new bookbindings.

Later, these fragments attracted interest by librarians and antiquarians who, in an attempt to “salvage” these “lost manuscripts”, removed them from the bindings, and kept them in collections in libraries and archives.

The text of these fragments has been studied but their history as components of bookbindings, has been largely ignored. The association between the fragment and the binding, both of which can be dated and localised, gives important information with regard to their history, showing how medieval manuscripts were dispersed.

This association is broken when fragments are removed from the bindings and such information is lost. The fragments, however, often retain evidence of their use as binding components.

Ligatus is leading research within libraries and archives with particular interests in historical bookbinding.

Find out more about Ligatus.