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Alcuin's Lost Library Exhibition

Posted on 24 February 2011

York had a library and school of European renown in the eighth century. But it vanished. Was it exported, recopied or destroyed during the Viking violence of 867. A new exhibition at York Minster Library tries to solve the mystery.

Bamberg, Staatsbibliothek Misc. Bibl. 1 fol. 5 v.by permission

York had a library and school of European renown in the eighth century. But it vanished. Was it exported, recopied or destroyed during the Viking violence of 867? A new exhibition at York Minster Library tries to solve the mystery.

Dr Mary Garrison conceived and coordinated the exhibition, which grew out of an essay about the library in the first volume of The Cambridge History of the Book in Britain. It represents an exciting collaboration between the University, the Minster Library, local charities and local museums and tells the story of a great lost library through photographs of manuscripts and specially made works of contemporary calligraphy. The emphasis is on the beauty of the written, rather than the decorated, page.

The exhibition was made possible through support from the Department, the University, the Yorkshire Philosophical Society, the Sheldon Memorial Trust and the York Decorative and Fine Arts Society. Manuscript photos come from libraries across Europe and North America. The Yorkshire Museum and the Danelaw Centre for Living History at the Yorkshire Museum of Farming lent objects. Sue Sparrow of the Biology Department's Photo-Graphics Unit and one of the calligraphers produced graphics for the exhibition.

The exhibition at York Minster Library runs from Thursday 24 February until Friday 15 April 2011. Check with the Minster Library for opening hours.