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Durham University

Institute of Medieval and Early Modern Studies (IMEMS)

Scientific Study of Manuscripts

The interdisciplinary ‘Scientific Study of Manuscripts’ theme was initiated by IMEMS to bring colleagues from across Durham and beyond to showcase and exchange approaches for exploring medieval manuscripts and their associated material culture.

In November 2017, a group of professionals from across Durham University met to discuss the potential to undertake some preparatory work which would enable the University to develop bids and respond to future funding calls arising from, the Arts and Humanities Research Council, The Leverhulme Trust, or another funder, for a similar scheme or initiatives.

The group agreed it should hold twice yearly research meetings to exchange ideas and share information; and to be poised as an active body in the event that the development of a bid in response to future funding calls is necessary.

The group held its first research meeting on 13 February 2018, comprising of short presentations, case-studies, and practical demonstrations in their fields of expertise.

The group held its second meeting on 30 October 2018, with speakers from outside Durham providing insights into their expertise and experiences with medieval manuscripts. Speakers included David Howell, Head of Heritage Science at Oxford’s Bodleian Library; Professor Tara Andrews, University of Vienna; Professor Matthew Collins, Universities of Copenhagen and Cambridge; Dr Lucia Burgio, Senior Scientist in the Victoria and Albert Museum’s Conservation Department; Mrs Saubhaghya Pradhananga, Director of the National Archives, Government of Nepal; Dr Charis Theodorakopoulos, Northumbria University; and Dr Dinah Eastop, Senior Lecturer at the Textile Conservation Centre, Visiting Academic at the University of Southampton and Honorary Lecturer at UCL’s Institute of Archaeology.

These presentations, and discussions with colleagues from Durham, focused on the conservation, research and dissemination challenges as well as Identifying future pathways for collaboration. On 31 October, IMEMS supported the follow on meeting of a smaller group of Durham academics to co-design a network with Saubhaghya Pradhananga (Director of the National Archives, Government of Nepal), Kai Weise (President ICOMOS (Nepal)) and Dr Nina Mirnig (IKGA, Austrian Academy of Sciences) to develop potential avenues of collaboration and capacity strengthening for the protection, conservation and study of inscriptions and textual sources in Nepal.