Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Dunedin City Library's manuscripts get a social media makeover

Dunedin City Library's have put images of their  medieval manuscripts from the Alfred and Isabel Reed Collection onto Flickr. The old way of getting the word out meets the new! Find out more about this project.

The images include a selection from each bound manuscript, and the front and back (or recto/verso if you want to use the fancy terminology) of each individual leaf and fragment. Images are divided into collections and sets.

Ref: View of the Dunedin Public Libraries Medieval Manuscripts' photostream on Flickr
 The site was created to promote and provide virtual access to one of New Zealand's largest collections of medieval manuscripts. One of the collection highlights includes a leaf and bifolium from a 9th century Bible in Carolingian script (RMMF 1a and 1b), which are among the oldest manuscript leaves in the country.

Ref: Detail of one of the medieval manuscripts, 16th C, from the Dunedin Public Libraries Medieval Manuscripts' photostream on Flickr
Also showcased are two Dutch Books of Hours. Books of Hours were prayer books popular in the late middle ages (from 13th to 16th century) for ordinary religious people, who wanted to privately follow the Church's programme of daily devotions. One of these Book of Hours is a 15th century version  (MS 12) from the library of Alexander Boswell, 8th Laird of Auchinleck, and the second (MS 10), was brought to New Zealand by Walter B. D. Mantell in 1840 and represents one of the earliest medieval manuscripts to be transported to the colony.

Dunedin's collections are second only to Auckland Libraries' Sir George Grey Special Collections at the Central City Library. The collections include Medieval and Renaissance manuscripts spanning the 12th to the 17th century, and Eastern manuscripts from the 16th to the 19th century. Access to these heritage resources is through the library catalogue (enter the Call number 'Med. Ms' or  'EASTMS' into the search box).

Included in this rich collections is the Rossdhu Book of Hours (Med. MS G.146). The first owner of this Book of Hours is thought to have been the Scottish noblewoman, Elizabeth Dunbar, Countess of Moray. The Countess lived with her third husband, the laird Sir John Colquhoun, at Rossdhu, near the village of Luss on Loch Lomond. 

Ref: 7-C1906, Rossdhu Books of Hours, 1475, Sir George Grey Special Collections
The Rossdhu Books of Hours is truly a celebrity among medieval manuscripts. It was created in the Southern Netherlands and has travelled many miles during its lifetime. It was originally brought to NZ by Sir George Grey who purchased it in 1863 from the London booksellers Thomas and William Boone. In more recent years, the book travelled  back to the Scottish village and parish of Luss in 2010. In Luss it was exhibited for four months as part of the celebrations marking the1500th anniversary of the introduction of Christianity in Scotland. During the book's time in Scotland it was viewed by 62,500 people, including Prince Charles, Prince of Wales and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall.

Find out more about the Rossdhu Book of Hours and view this intricately hand painted medieval prayer book as an ebook. You can also search the text of this manuscript using both basic and advanced key word searching.

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