Discovering the Unknown Ripon Fragments

Project Details


This research builds on my expertise in palaeography, codicology and digital humanities, and aims at an exploratory investigation of the unexplored Ripon Fragments. This represents a new phase of my work on these fragments, since between 2015-2017 I catalogued ca. 65 detached leaves which belong to the Ripon Cathedral Library. With the mentorship and support of Prof. Emilia Jamroziak andt through the generous Brotherton Fellowship, I have been able to undertake new research on the abundant uncatalogued fragments still in the bindings of early-printed texts from Ripon Cathedral, and now preserved at the Special Collections of the Brotherton Library. I have inspected a small selection of this vast material, namely ca. 60 unknown fragments. From a preliminary analysis, I have been able to confirm the pattern emerged when cataloguing the Ripon Fragments which are already known: their dating ranges, in fact, from the X to the late XVI centuries; most fragments come from texts produced in Britain but there are also a few instances of fragments in “Gothica rotunda” which were written in Italy around the XIV century, and fragments in “Gothica bastarda” produced in fifteenth-century France. The texts these fragments preserve is various: alongside antiphonals, liturgic writings, theological treatises (e.g. Petrus Lombardus, Bartholomew of Exeter, Thomas Aquinas), and texts concerning Medieval law and local British history, there are also fragments from the late-antique writer Palladius (Opus Agriculturae, book four), as well as fragments in Middle-English and Old-French.
The evidence I collected and studied thus far will be fundamental to prepare a major application to conduct a larger-scale research on all the fragments (probably around 1000). This research will have significant impact not only on medieval and classical literature, but also on monastic history and medieval and early-modern book production. This research will pivot on the concept of “discarded knowledge” and, specifically, will aim at understanding how the dismemberment and reuse of these texts was prompted by the intervention of wealthy sixteenth/seventeenth-century humanists, such as the Dean of Ripon Anthony Higgin, who were able to access a remarkable amount of MSS that were written or circulated in the area of Ripon and North Yorkshire.

Key findings

Discovery of several uncatalogued and unedited manuscript fragments at the Leeds Special Collections.
Effective start/end date1/09/1730/05/18


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