Construction of a Manuscript
Manuscripts were written on parchment, which is the treated skin of an animal. Scribes wrote on sheets, which were then folded into bifolia that were inserted into each other. These leaves shown below are remarkable because they are able to show us how medieval manuscripts were created and bound. The parchment is dark with age, but still shows signs of green ruling, a practice particular to England. Ruling allowed scribes to make their writing straight and even; one oddity of scribal practice was that up until 1230 scribes wrote below the top ruling line. At that point, scribes abruptly started writing below the top line. Nobody knows why, but it allows librarians to date fragments like this one almost exactly. The final leaf has been used as scrap paper for an early modern reader, James Armytage. He has written, "James Armytage is nane and with pen I wrote ye same and if my pen hade been any better I would have mended ev'ry letter / little is the robinet but less is the ren it is my writing but wors is my pen." Burn marks and faded illuminations are also visible.
Click through the annotations on the digital manuscript below to see these features highlighted!