Thursday, February 20, 2014

Updating Links Again

  I have just had another all too infrequent run through updating links, this time on the Complete Digital Facsimiles page of Medieval Writing. You know, I think Titivullus has got a new profession collecting error 404s. There's a thought for a medievalist cartoonist.
  I haven't attempted to duplicate the mighty collection now accessible through Sexy Codicology. Go there too and you will find more wonders.
  Think I'll have a little rest now and go back to processing pretty pictures of stained glass for my unlikely to ever end Flickr project.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

More Updated Graphics - Rustic Capitals

  Creeping along updating some of the Medieval Writing graphics with fancy colour images downloaded from the British Library, we now have amazingly improved visuals for rustic capitals script. The page is unusual in that it uses this script, more commonly used for headings, for the whole page, and there are some unusual features of script formatting. While mostly they just wrote in horizontal lines in more or less continuous form, sometimes the scribes just cut loose. Check out the paleography exercise to see what I mean.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Online Paleography

  I have just done one of my all too infrequent updates on the Paleography Links page of Medieval Writing. Unfortunately there seem to be more sites that have disappeared than new ones appearing. Spain and Italy in particular seem to have virtually disappeared off the paleography map. Some of the survivors are also looking a little elderly and forgotten as well. It has been pointed out before that production of online material has never been given its full regard in academic circles, and many working academics have abandoned their projects to get on with the dreaded peer reviewed olde worlde steam driven print publications in order to survive and progress.
  It is kind of flattering to find Medieval Writing at the top of some lists of paleographical resources, but a little alarming as I am not actually a professional paleographer, more a new media facilitator with an education, and I have not been able to update the site at anything like the speed I would like to. There is much weeping and wailing about the lack of interest by governments in the promotion of the humanities, but providing good quality resources for them in the media where everybody plays these days is probably a better bet than anything that governments can do.
  The latest development in manuscript studies in the media seems to involve the ever increasing provision by libraries and archives of digital facsimiles which are freely available for anyone to use. This is a wonderful thing and to be applauded mightily. Check out Sexy Codicology to find out where to find them all. Cheers to Giulio, the busiest man on the medieval internet.
  Perhaps when we have all stopped drooling over the pretty pictures that we have not been able to admire before, interest may be revived in discovering what these manuscripts are all about, and that involves being able to read them. Sure, there are intricate and erudite studies being produced in English literature departments, but they surely have a broader appeal to those interested in our history.
  OK, now which one of you pinched the steps to my soapbox? I want to get down now.

Addendum: A couple of links on Spanish paleography have been added. Thanks to  on Twitter.

Saturday, February 08, 2014

A Leetle Progress

  The images on another British Library manuscript in Medieval Writing have been updated, courtesy of their wonderful website. These include examples of uncial and insular minuscule scripts, and a paleography exercise. It is now seven o'clock in the evening and 37 deg. C., so I think I will now sit down in the bath with a cold beer and a warm sense of satisfaction. One has to set limited and realistic goals in this weather.

Friday, February 07, 2014

It Seemed Like a Good Idea at the Time

  We are sweltering in a long, long hot spell down here in Oz right now; too hot to be doing thinky things like paleography. So I have embarked on the Great Flickr Project to put all my medieval photographs somewhere in cyberspace, caption and annotate them, organise them into something coherent and useful, and perhaps revive some of my old projects on medieval visual culture. I mean, how hard is it? It's just a bit of digital image jiggerypokery, updating my ever so complete database, doing a bit of sorting and recataloguing, and lo and behold, I will have a smorgasbord of medieval feastery  to play with. Easy peasy.
  The photographs, mainly from Britain but also some from the Continent, were taken during the course of a number of extended visits over the years, but all in the days before digital photography was a goer. I had a reasonably good SLR kit, but it was really urban guerilla photography. Certain sites banned tripods and/or flash and sometimes you had to be pretty quick on your feet. I used slide film, so what was in the box was what was in the box.
  They have been digitised and databased over the years, so I know what they all are (mostly), but they are in totally random order, batched in folders of around 100 images because that was what you could put on a CD-ROM. Coherent sets of images are scattered all over the place, but that doesn't matter because I've got a database, you see.
  It's been great fun upgrading the quality of the images to compensate for having to take the original photographs in a variety of bodgy lighting conditions, trying to do long exposures by bracing myself against a pillar with my shoulders, with knees bent and elbows tucked in. I'm sure some church and castle visitors thought I was practising some strange antipodean form of yoga. But the results give some satisfaction. I can even correct those ones where I slightly lost my sense of verticality. Terrible temptation to sit fiddling with the digital dials to just get it a little bit better.
  Of course, the database isn't quite as comprehensive and detailed as it might be. That means some time spent googling around to get more information. The pictures were taken some years ago, and things have happened. Discovered to my horror that one church I had visited had completely burned out not long afterwards. A quick check of stats says I have over 5500 images in my database, not all of which are mine but mostly. I have currently uploaded 140 and used 0.00053% of my allowed 1 terabyte of Flickr. So far they are all of misericords and other bits of church woodwork. I gotta work faster!

  Meanwhile, does anybody recognise this dude? Not all databases are perfect. Check out here every so often and see how I'm getting along. Maybe the paleography would be easier after all.

Monday, February 03, 2014

Painful Progress

  As promised, I am working, excruciatingly slowly, on replacing older graphics in Medieval Writing with better ones, with especial thanks to the British Library for allowing their high quality colour images to be freely used. Some of the images in the first paleography exercise for uncial script have now been updated. Unfortunately it makes some of the other old black and white bits and pieces in the exercise look even worse. Can't win.
  I will try to split my time between this project and my blockbuster epic Flickr project to not only display, but organise, my medieval photographs. That may take a day or two.

Saturday, February 01, 2014

Little Scribal Thingamajig

    We all love our little medieval depictions of scribes. Somehow it connects us to the letters they wrote on those dead sheep and cows. I recently received an email from one Bob Green of London with a link to a depiction of a scribe in an unusual medium. At least, it's an unusual medium to be surviving today, being a small metal object that was found through metal detecting. People did lose the oddest things in the past.
  Take a look at it here. Objects like this not only show us what scribes looked like or what equipment they used, they give a hint at the value of the work they did. I'm not expecting anyone to commemorate anything I do in silver gilt any time soon.
  Thanks for sharing that with us Bob.