Conservation of MS 154
St John’s College has one of the largest collegiate libraries of Medieval manuscripts and among its half dozen greatest treasures is its single fully Anglo-Saxon book, MS 154, Aelfric (Grammar and Glossary written in insular square minuscule) and Aelfric Bata, (Latin Colloquies for beginner Latin students with sporadic Old English glosses written in caroline script), written in England, eleventh century.
An NMCT grant not only enabled this important Anglo-Saxon manuscript be conserved but also allowed the transfer of high-level conservation skills in manuscript repair and rebinding thanks to collaboration between book conservators Christopher Clarkson and Jane Eagan (Oxford Conservation Consortium).
In the nineteenth-century this manuscript was rebound in an unsuitable binding that had broken down and no longer offered protection to the text-block; the decision was therefore taken to rebind in a binding that adheres to conservation principles and is mechanically and visually sympathetic to the manuscript. Full written and photographic documentation recorded detailed information about the manuscript and the binding prior to conservation treatment commencing.
Thanks to the NMCT's support this important eleventh century manuscript is stabliised and is once more available for study by researchers and for display.
Images courtesy of St John’s College and the Oxford Conservation Consortium