The 12th-century Aberdeen Bestiary has just been digitally scanned and made available online. One of the most famous extant bestiaries, the new version includes newly-discovered details on the book's production.
According to university professor Jane Geddes, marks and annotations previously indiscernible to the naked eye suggest that the book ended up in the king’s library as a treasure handpicked by his scouts, who rummaged through dissolved monastic libraries for valuables. Although the book is ornate, it was never fully finished. Now clearly visible imperfections indicate that it was created in a scriptorium by many hands. The bookmaking team would have consisted of prickers, a scribe, draftsmen, and painters, and pages reveal instructions left by craftsmen for one another. Notes in the margins also relay edits to the inked script, from corrections to spelling errors to more pronounced mistakes related to the narrative (e.g. “The swallow is not attacked by other birds”).
• Aberdeen Bestiary (University of Aberdeen via Hyperallergic)
Images via Wikimedia
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