Field trip to Special Collections at the University of St Andrews Library for History of the Book students

Students taking the 'History of the Book' module at the University of Dundee (module HU42001) participated in a field trip to St Andrews recently, for a rare books and manuscripts seminar in Special Collections at the University of St Andrews Library.

The seminar leader was Rachel Hart, Senior Archivist at the University of St Andrews. She introduced the students to a wonderful collection of materials, which ranged from Egyptian papyrus of the third century CE to so-called ‘Books of Hours’ -- beautifully decorated devotional texts from the late Middle Ages—and from valuable incunables --featuring the works of the Roman philosopher Cicero and the medieval theologian Duns Scotus-- to a 1522 edition of the New Testament in Greek, with facing Latin translation by Erasmus of Rotterdam. This edition facilitated the German bible translation of the Protestant Reformer Martin Luther.

Following the introductory talk, students could take a closer look at the objects on display and make digital pictures of various features relevant for the topics of their final essays.

The seminar was a feast for the senses as well as the mind. Students admired the artistic accomplishments and sheer technical prowess of the scribes, type-setters, illuminators and book binders of many centuries ago. It is awe-inspiring to consider that they were able to produce such magnificent artefacts without the benefit of, for example, electric light. Wax candles for late-night study, anyone?

One of the books viewed by students on their trip to University of St Andrews Special Collections Students on their trip to University of St Andrews Special Collections One of the books viewed by students on their trip to University of St Andrews Special Collections