Case study 10: Burnt Anglo-Saxon fragments at the British Library: Reassessing the evidence with multispectral imagery (MSI)

London, The British Library, Cotton MS Otho A X f.4r

Case Study

Partner institution: The British Library, London

Financed by: Zeno Karl Schindler/Fragmentarium Fellowship

Collaborator: Dr. Andrew Dunning, The British Library

Advisor: Dr. Claire Breay, Dr. Andrea Clarke, The British Library

The burnt fragments of the Cotton manuscripts are among the most evocative artefacts of medieval culture, both for the tragedy of their destruction and the mystery of their contents. Many of the surviving leaves remain critical to scholarship, often containing unique texts or their earliest known copies. Work on other fragments at the British Library has shown that multispectral photography makes it possible to extract more information from what survives. The burnt leaves are continuing to deteriorate, and it is critical that digital techniques be applied to document and to preserve their present state. This project will publish photographs of fragments from key remnants of Anglo-Saxon Cotton manuscripts in the Cotton collection on Fragmentarium.

Andrew Dunning (ORCID: 0000-0003-0464-5036) is Curator of Medieval Historical Manuscripts, 1100–1500, at the British Library. He received his doctorate in 2016 from the Centre for Medieval Studies, University of Toronto.

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