31 Days of Medieval Manuscripts (2015) · Medieval Art and Architecture

Where to Enjoy Manuscripts Online – Day Twenty-Eight of Medieval Manuscripts

Book of Kells, Folio 291v, Portrait of John. Dublin, Trinity College. Image via Wikimedia Commons [public domain]
As the month of October is winding down, so is 31 Days of Medieval Manuscripts. While my posts about medieval manuscripts may be slowing down – I’ll continue to write about them, just not every single day – I hope that your interest in the subject will remain. In that spirit, today’s post is going to be about the best places to find medieval manuscripts online. I’ve cited and used images from many of these websites in my prior posts, but some others I haven’t included as much because of the copyrights they put on their images. Fortunately, enjoyment isn’t subject to copyright restrictions.

  • The British Library’s Catalogue of Illuminated Manuscripts is usually my first stop, because they own some of the world’s most amazing manuscripts, and many are fully digitized. You can search the catalog by keyword or manuscript number.
  • The J.P. Morgan Library in New York also has a phenomenal collection and a great selection of digitized manuscripts in its Images from Medieval and Renaissance Manuscripts section.
  • The Durham Priory just launched a massive effort to digitalize its holdings. Although images aren’t available online just yet, today’s announcement of this program inspired this post.
  • Facsimile Finder is a company that produces and sells high-quality reproductions of important manuscripts, medieval and otherwise. I’m not sure how much you can actually view online, but I’ve discovered interesting manuscripts just by browsing the listings on their site.
  • Sexy Codicology wins the award for the medieval manuscripts source with the best possible name. The website maintains an excellent blog whose posts have inspired several entries in 31 Days of Medieval Manuscripts. Sexy Codicology also runs Digitized Medieval Manuscripts Maps (DMMmaps), an interactive, crowd-sourced map of libraries and museums worldwide who have digitized their manuscript holdings and made them available for public viewing online.
  • Medievalbooks.nl is a most excellent blog run by manuscript historian Erik Kwakkel. Not only are Kwakkel’s articles highly-informative and engaging, but they often concern interesting and unconventional topics such as medieval bookmarks. Medieval Books was featured on Freshly Pressed, which is a pretty big deal for a blog dealing with a topic only a small percentage of people follow. Kwakkel is also involved in several other must-read websites, such as Quill: Books Before Print and Medieval Fragments. The latter page is no longer active, but all its content is still available, and I would highly recommend that you take advantage of it.
  • Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, and Tumblr: Many of the sources I’ve listed also run great pages on various social media sites. I’ve joined many Facebook groups and pages (too numerous to list) dedicated to medieval manuscripts and related fields. I also enjoy just typing “illuminated manuscripts” or something like that into Pinterest and just enjoying all the pictures that come up. I often learn about cool manuscripts that way.
  • I don’t advocate using Wikipedia as a source of information, but definitely take advantage of its great selection of images under Creative Commons licenses. The same is true of Flickr.
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3 thoughts on “Where to Enjoy Manuscripts Online – Day Twenty-Eight of Medieval Manuscripts

    1. That’s an excellent question, and I wish I had a good answer for it. I think it has something to do with the anonymity of the authors, but I’m not sure that really makes a ton of sense. After all, how much do any of us really know about anyone online? Personally, I like to use Wikipedia for basic facts and overviews of subjects but then double-check through other sources.

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