A new exhibition of medieval manuscript fragments from western Europe held at the Borthwick Institute for Archives, spanning the 12th-16th centuries provides a rare chance to see surviving fragments of medieval books and manuscripts - many of which were thought to be lost forever.

Separated from now-lost larger works, these fragments can help us understand much about medieval attitudes to worship and liturgy; devotion and faith; art and music; church and state; and much more.

The exhibition - curated by archivists and conservators from the Borthwick and academics from York’s Centre for Medieval Studies - highlights just a few of the many manuscript fragments we hold.

Spanning nearly 1000 years, this exhibition tells a story of destruction, survival, and rediscovery to be appreciated and used anew in the 21st century.

Amongst the highlights on display for the very first time are:

  • A copy of the Treaty of Edinburgh-Northampton. Originally signed in 1328 by Robert the Bruce, the treaty brought to an end the First Scottish War of Independence and recognised the Kingdom of Scotland as an independent nation. The copy on display (assumed to date from c 1400) appears to have been used, later, as binding material.
  • Sections of medieval sacred music dating back to the 12th century, including a portion of the York Masses. These are large, 16th century scores used as binding material in the York Consistory Court Act Books.
  • Surviving fragments from unique psalters and Books of Hours, complete with intricate miniature gilt illustrations, theological commentaries and illumination.

Many of the items on display come from a collection of medieval manuscript fragments donated to the University by Professor Toshiyuki Takamiya, Emeritus Professor at Keio University, Japan. Other items on display have been discovered during in-depth conservation and re-binding work at the Borthwick over the last 60 years.

The exhibition can be found in the Samuel Storey Exhibition Gallery at the Borthwick. It is open to the general public from 8:00am-10:00pm, 7 days a week until the 9th July 2017.