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Manuscripts of Lichfield Cathedral - Now at the University of Oklahoma: https://lichfield.ou.edu

Latest scholarship:
Endres, Bill. "The St Chad Gospels: Ligatures and the Division of Hands." Manuscripta: A Journal for Manuscript Research, 59.2 (2015): 159-186.
---. "Imaging Sacred Artifacts: Ethics and the Digitizing of Lichfield Cathedral's St Chad Gospels." Journal of Religion, Media and Digital Culture, 3.3 (2014): 39-73.

Recent Additions:
Creative Commons Downloads of 2010 Digitizaton: St Chad Gospels and Wycliffe New Testament
  (Since I've received inquiries: CC licensing does not include photograph from prior times. Other institutions hold those copyrights.)
Collation Diagram of the St Chad Gospels
Interactive RTI renderings of St Chad Gospels (control over lighting for viewing surface details)

Recent Recognition:
Staffordshire Archaeological and Historical Society: Newsletter, May 2016, pg 9
A Corner of Tenth-Century Europe Seminar CCXXXVIII: "Digital Eyes on the Lichfield Gospels"

Videos:
The St Chad Gospels: Reflectance Transformation Imaging and Dry-Point Glosses
The St Chad Gospels: Potentials for 3D in Manuscript Studies

 

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St Chad Gospels, portrait of Luke

Portrait of St Luke, St Chad Gospels

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wycliffe New Testament, folio 72v

Ephesians 1:1, Wycliffe New Testament


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Lichfield Cathedral Imaging Project

Reflectance Transformation Imaging (RTI) Gallery: During the summer of 2014, I used Reflectance Transformation Imaging (RTI) to capture dry-point glosses and the state of pigments for pages of the St Chad Gospels. Dry-point glosses are notoriously difficult to capture, etched with a stylus but no ink. These dry-point glosses include three Anglo-Saxon female names on page 226, which non-coincidentally contains the Magnificat, Mary's song praising God.

Historical Image Overlays: One question I share with Lichfield Cathedral and all who appreciate medieval manuscripts is how well is the St Chad Gospels aging. The Historical Image Overlays offer a window into this question. They provide photographs taken over the last 125 years for nine of the pages of the St Chad Gospels (some photographs from 1887). Adjusting the top image's transparency through the viewer's slidebar makes changes and stabilities in the St Chad Gospels's pigments and inks observable. I have included a brief discussion of some preliminary findings from overlaying these images. (Invited short piece for D-Lib Magazine's In Brief - May/June 2014)

More than Meets the Eye: Going 3d with an Early Medieval Manuscript: This article examines the implications of 3D for scholarship and digital preservation. For digital artifacts, it raises questions about what a 2D image presents and how 3D moves scholarship and interactions beyond these limits (Proceedings of the Digital Humanities Congress 2012, Sheffield, England).

Features of the Website

Interactive 3D Gallery: The 3D Gallery offers sixteen of the most significant pages of the St Chad Gospels in interactive 3D. 

3D is of particular interest to me as I work to enhance the experience of a digital version of an illuminated manuscript. For a discussion of this topic, see my short video The St Chad Gospels: Potentials of 3D for the Study of Manuscripts, made for the 2012 Digital Transformations Moot, a gathering fo digital humanities scholars and artists in London sponsored by the Arts & Humanities Council (UK).

Multispectral Visualizations of the St Chad Gospels' Page 141: Page 141 includes an area that appears as if it might contain erased text. These 32 multispectral visualizations offer enhanced examination of this area. To generate the visualizations, a colormap is applied to enhance ocular contrast, providing a rather dramatic flare. The viewer includes the ability to overlay the multi-spectral visualizations with the RGB or ultraviolet image of page 141.

Overlay Viewer: This innovative viewer automatically loads the set of images taken for a page (regular color and multispectral, from ultraviolet to infrared). It allows the choice of any two of these images from a drop-down list and provides adjustment of the top image's transparency through a slidebar. This is the regular viewer for this website, whether you are in the St Chad Gospels Image Gallery or the Wycliffe New Testament Image Gallery.

Main Page: Starting point for Manuscripts of Lichfield Cathedral. Includes an overview of interactive features and basic information.


The Project

The imaging project emerged from my scholarship at Lichfield Cathedral, where I spent time studying the St Chad Gospels in 2009. Scholarship on the St Chad Gospels has suffered because a printed facsimile of this magnificent gospelbook has never been made. Because scholarly tasks normally require prolonged access to a manuscript's pages, and access means exposure to damaging sunlight, I diligently examined the Cathedral's set of 6' x 8' black and white photographs of the St Chad Gospels, much of the time using a magnifying glass, taking copious notes while searching out features of text and imagery important to my scholarship. This work greatly limited the number of pages that I needed to consult from the manuscript itself--although without color I missed much. My work at the Cathedral whole-heartedly convinced me of the need for this wondrous manuscript to be digitized.

Spending time at Lichfield, I developed a good rapport with the Revd Dr Pete Wilcox, Canon Chancellor of Lichfield Cathedral, as I did with Lichfield Cathedral's Librarian, Pat Bancroft. Pete was receptive to a digitization project, having successfuly worked with Senshu University to digitize and produce a facsimile of the Cathedral's exquisitely illustrated Canterbury Tales. He desired to increase the scholarship on the St Chad Gospels, which he, too, viewed as terribly lacking, but he also desired digital preservation and to share Lichfield's treasured manuscripts with the world.

The project moved forward much more quickly than it would have otherwise due to unfortunate circumstances. Ross Scaife, a well-known digital humanities scholar, passed away. He was the sole humanities scholar on the EDUCE grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF); Brent Seales, Director of the University of Kentucky's Center for Visualization and Virtual Environments, had worked with Ross on this grant. As a computer scientist and without Ross, Brent had no access to manuscripts or knowledge of which manuscripts might hold value to scholars. He began working with a professor from another university, but they were having difficulties finalizing a contract for a digitization project. Brent needed a backup and approached me, knowing that I had a potential project with Lichfield.

I entered into more serious conversations with Pete, and through the goodwill of Pete and the Chapter of Lichfield Cathedral, along with crucial funding from my College of Arts & Sciences for me to travel to Lichfield, we were able to reach an agreement and be ready to image in less than six months. With such a rush to work out the agreement, and uncertainty as to what we would uncover with ultraviolet imaging (both manuscripts, the St Chad Gospels and Wycliffe New Testament appeared to include some erasures), Pete and I decided to leave open the size of images that we would offer for download over the Internet. This was agreed upon within the project. Pete and I would make the decision based on the comfort and desire of the Cathedra and on what I found. A digital project like this is a partnership and requires continual dialogue, transparency, and trust.

All of the images (RGB and multispectral), in full resolution, are availabe for viewing at Manuscripts of Lichfield Cathedral. However, downloadable images will be offered soon. Not surprisingly, Pete was promoted and is now Dean of Liverpool Cathedral. A new Canon Chancellor has filled Pete's position, the Revd Dr Anthony Moore. Anthony has an impressive background, most recently serving as Dean of Chapel at St Catharine's College Cambridge. I will work with Anthony to honor my commitment to Pete and should have downloadable images available sometime in February of 2016.
 

Lichfield Cathedral

Lichfield Cathedral is located in the English Midlands, approximately two hours from London by train. The Cathedral is the third church built on this site, a stunning Gothic Cathedral of the thirteenth century, preceded by a Saxon Church and Norman Cathedral. It is a rare three-spire cathedral. When St Chad became Bishop, he set up his See at Lichfield in 669 C.E., the heart of the Kingdom of Mercia, a powerhouse of the early Middle Ages. Remnants of Mercia's power and wealth can be witnessed in the artifacts of the Staffordshire Hoard, the largest hoard of Anglo-Saxon gold ever found, discovered approximately three miles from the Cathedral in 2009. The St Chad Gospels is on display in the Chapter House.

Special thanks to Canon Chancellor Pete Wilcox, whose vision and dedication made this project possible, the Chapter, Versers, Jo Burkinshaw, Pat Bancroft, and countless volunteers from the Cathedral community. Digitizing a manuscript takes a village.
 

The St Chad Gospels

Background: As mentioned above, the St Chad Gospels is of the Insular family of illuminated manuscripts, manuscripts made in the British Isles from the 6th to the 9th century. It exhibits strong Irish influences, including word separation, abbreviations, punctuation, a cross-carpet page, and incipits (in which the opening letters of a gospel are enlarged and decorated to fill a complete page). The illuminations and decoration are a mixture of Celtic and Anglo-Saxon art, with some Pictish influences.

Strong evidence suggests that the St Chad Gospels was made in Lichfield around 730 C.E., at a time when the Mercian city was a center of power and wealth. Through marginalia, scholars know that this gospel-book was in Wales by the early 9th century: a note in the St Chad Gospels records the act of Gelhi trading his best horse for the manuscript and donating it to the altar of St Teilo at Llandeilo Fawr (Wales). In all likelihood, the St Chad Gospels was stolen by warring Anglo-Saxons or Vikings for its gold and/or silver book cover adorned with jewels. It returned to Lichfield in the 10th century, evidenced by the signature of a Lichfield Bishop, Wynsige, on the manuscript’s first page.

However, the St Chad Gospels' troubles did not end with its return to Lichfield. During the English Civil War, Precetor Higgins rescued the Gospelbook from Cromwell’s forces when they laid seige on the city. Legend has it that Precetor Higgins hid the manuscript under his robes to save it. Cromwell’s forces destroyed the library and looted the Cathedral. The St Chad Gospels was kept safe by the Duchess of Somerset and returned to Lichfield in 1673, where it has remained since.  Unfortunately, only one of two known volumes survives: the volume containing the gospels of Matthew, Mark, and the first part of Luke. The second volume was lost sometime between 1345 and the ending of the English Civil War.

The St Chad Gospels is important to a range of scholars from diverse disciplines and for a variety of reasons. Because of the Gospelbook’s time in Wales, it includes in its margins the oldest surviving Welsh writing. These entries, some of them mixed with Latin, present linguists and scholars of Old Welsh insight into the medieval Welch language. Scholars of art history find particular interest in the St Chad Gospels’ portraits of the evangelists Mark and Luke, its cross-carpet page, and its rendering of the symbols for the four evangelists. The St Chad Gospels' script is beautifully executed and of chief interest to paleographers, helping them to understand the evolution of scripts in the British Isles. The text of the St Chad Gospels is considered mixed Latin, that is, the text of St Jerome’s Vulgate mixed with phrases of earlier Latin translations of the Bible. Examining these older Latin variations offers scholars clues to possible exemplars and reveals relations amongst insular gospelbooks, which can mean relations to other monasteries. Finally, the overall decorative scheme of the St Chad Gospels reveals possible liturgical uses, insights into exegesis, and clues to a Lichfield/Mercian style of making manuscripts.

As mentioned, scholarly work has been limited because access to the St Chad Gospels has been limited. A facsimile version of this important Gospelbook has never been made. One contributing factor has been the economic fate of Lichfield. Although a center of power and wealth during the Middle Ages, Lichfield has suffered since. The city was passed by when the canals were built in the 18th and 19th centuries and passed by again when the major motorways were built in the 20th century. Therefore, Lichfield and its cathedral are lesser known than many of its counterparts, and the city has remained a small town with limited economic possibilities. Happily, the area is currently experiencing resurgence.

For commentary on a collection of select pages from the St Chad Gospels, visit Lichfield Cathedral's turn the pages.
 

Lichfield's Wycliffe New Testament

Background: The Wycliffe Bible represents the earliest known complete translation of the Bible into English (Middle English). The Venerable Bede translated the Gospel of John into Anglo-Saxon (8th century), and the first six books of the Bible were translated into Anglo-Saxon for the Old English Hexateuch (11th century). Although John Wyclif was an accomplished Latinist, he only inspired the translation of the Vulgate into Middle English through his theological writings and sermons, the Bibles later given his name. Wyclif viewed the primary source of God’s wisdom to reside in the teachings of Christ as set forth in the gospels and not as taught in the doctrinal positions of the Roman Catholic Church. Therefore, translating the Bible into the vernacular, particularly the New Testament, was essential for Wyclif and his followers.

There are two versions of the Wycliffe Bible. The first is rather awkward in its translation: it is extremely literal and adopts much of its word order from the Latin. A revision was completed by 1388, using idioms from Middle English and more natural word order. While the Roman Catholic Church did not look favorably upon this translation, it was the English Church that pursued hostilities toward Wyclif (mainly after his death) and those who adopted Wyclif’s theological view, the Lollards. Wyclif died in 1384, and in 1425 he was posthumously condemned by the church. In 1428, his bones were dug up and burned. In 1409, a provisional council of the English Church banned further translations of the Bible into English.

Lichfield’s Wycliffe New Testament was bequeathed to the Cathedral by Prebendary E.R.O. Bridgeman and reached the Cathedral library by 1941.  The manuscript had not been included in Forshall and Madden's list of Wycliffite texts and did not make a scholarly list until Mary Dove’s The First English Bible, published in 2007. B.S. Benedikz completed the only scholarly work on this New Testament, examining a devotional poem written in the open space on folio 124v, at the end of the Book of Revelations.
 

Additional Information about the Lichfield Project

Digitizing the Past, interview for WUKY
21-Century Imaging Helps Scholars Reveal Rare 8th-Century Manuscript, Chronicle of Higher Education.
Historical Image Overlays - D-Lib Magazine

Videos:
The St Chad Gospels: Reflectance Transformation Imaging and Dry-Point Glosses
The St Chad Gospels: Potentials for 3D in Manuscript Studies

Of Possible Interest:
Reflectance Transformation Imaging of the St Chad Gospels - Lexington Herald-Leader
Project Preserves Ancient English Manuscript - Kentucky Alumni Magazine (p. 11)
21-Century Imaging Helps Scholars Reveal Rare 8th-Century Manuscript - Chronicle of Higher Education

Online Academic Articles:
Imaging Sacred Artifacts: Ethics and the Digitizing of Lichfield Cathedral's St Chad Gospels - Journal of Religion, Media and Digital Culture 3:3 (2014)
More than Meets the Eye: Going 3D with an Early Medieval Manuscript - Proceedings of the Digital Humanities Congress 2012

 



Advisory Board for the Project

Dr Michelle Brown, University of London
Dr Richard Gameson, University of Durham

 


* Images on the left reproduced by kind permission of the Chapter of Lichfield Cathedral.


Last Updated August 22, 2015


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Insular Illuminated Manuscripts

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