Dr James Freeman (Cambridge University Library) 
Full-day, from 10.00 - 17.00
Maximum: 15 students
Venue: Senate House

The purpose of cataloguing a medieval manuscript is to render in print in a consistent and clear manner certain of its key characteristics.  In their most modern incarnations, these descriptions include but are not limited to: the manuscript's dimensions, the number and structure of its leaves, its binding, its textual and decorative contents, its specific or estimated date and place of origin, an identification of the script used and (if possible) the scribe responsible, the manuscript's provenance, and any other relevant details.  Participants will learn about the evolution of the discipline by examining the commonalities and developments in descriptions published over the last two centuries.  The course will also prompt reflections upon the varying styles and emphases of manuscript descriptions and how this might be determined by the purposes to which a description might be put.  Participants will be introduced to the key principles that should guide the modern-day manuscripts cataloguer and will have the opportunity to put their codicological knowledge of how medieval books were made to the purpose of producing a structured physical description.  Attendance at the course 'Introduction to Codicology' is therefore strongly encouraged, since its content will lay the foundations for the lessons of this course.  Some knowledge of palaeography will also be of value, though is not strictly essential.

Students can choose to follow one, two or three days of codicology, but are encouraged to take all three.  Five places for day 2 will initially be allocated to persons attending day 1 and five places for day 3 will initially be allocated to students of both day 1 and day 2; the rest of the places will be available on a first come first served basis.


Please refer to the bibliography given for the course 'Introduction to Codicology'.

Participants should also familiarise themselves with as many published descriptions of medieval manuscripts as possible prior to the course, including but not limited to the following:

Collection catalogues:

- 'A catalogue of the Harleian manuscripts in the British Museum' ([London: Eyre & Strahan], 1808-12) - esp. pp. 27-29 of the preface. 

-- available online: https://archive.org/details/CatalogueOfTheHarleianManuscripts1

- 'A catalogue of the manuscripts in the Cottonian library deposited in the British Museum' ([London: Hansard, printer], 1802) - esp. pp. xiv-xv of the preface.

-- available online: https://archive.org/details/ACatalogueOfTheManuscripts1802

- 'A catalogue of the manuscripts preserved in the library of the University of Cambridge' (Cambridge: University Press, 1856-1867)

-- available online: https://archive.org/details/catalogueofmanus01cambuoft

- 'Catalogue of the Stowe manuscripts in the British Museum' (London: Printed by order of the Trustees, 1895)

-- available online: https://archive.org/details/cataloguestowem00ocogoog

- any of the Descriptive Catalogues of manuscripts in Cambridge College libraries, compiled by M.R. James

-- usually available online on Internet Archive

- G.F. Warner & J.P. Gilson, 'Catalogue of western manuscripts in the old Royal and King's collections' ([London]: The Trustees, 1921)

-- available online: https://archive.org/details/BMCatalogueOfWesternMssRoyal1

- R.A.B. Mynors, 'Catalogue of the Manuscripts of Balliol College, Oxford' (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1963)

- N.R. Ker, 'Medieval Manuscripts in British Libraries' (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1969-1992)

- P.J. Kidd, 'A descriptive catalogue of the medieval manuscripts of the Queen's College, Oxford' (Oxford: Oxford Bibliographical Society, 2016)

- R.M. Thomson, 'A descriptive catalogue of the medieval manuscripts in the library of Peterhouse, Cambridge' (Woodbridge: D.S. Brewer, 2016)


Art-historical catalogues:

- Any of the volumes in the series 'A survey of manuscripts illuminated in the British Isles', general editor J.J.G. Alexander (1975-1996)

- Any of the volumes in the series 'Illuminated manuscripts in Cambridge: A catalogue of western book illumination in the Fitzwilliam Museum and the Cambridge colleges', general editors N.J. Morgan and Stella Panayotova (2009-)


Textual catalogues:

- D.W. Singer, Catalogue of Latin and vernacular alchemical manuscripts in Great Britain and Ireland dating from before the XVI century (Brussels: Lamertin, 1928-1931)

- N.R. Ker, 'Catalogue of manuscripts containing Anglo-Saxon' (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1957, reissued with supplement 1990)

- M.C. Seymour, 'A Catalogue of Chaucer Manuscripts' (Aldershot: Scolar, 1995-1997)

- Ralph Hanna, 'The English manuscripts of Richard Rolle: a descriptive catalogue' (Exeter: University of Exeter Press, 2010)

- Any of the volumes in the series 'Index of Middle English Prose'.