Digitalising and Cataloguing the Ripon Fragments at the Special Collections

Leonardo Costantini tells us more about how he engaged with Special Collections at the Brotherton Library. 

LCostantini profileThis extracurricular project, which brings together my philological background with my skills in photography, is about the digitalisation and cataloguing of ca. 70 unedited fragments written between the 11th and the 16th century.

The project started because of a serendipitous occasion: last February I went to the Special Collection to inspect a rare copy of an early-printed book, and there I met Rhiannon Lawrence-Francis, the Special Collections Manager at University of Leeds. We discussed about our common interests in Medieval and early-printed books, and I suggested that – even with a very low budget – it would still be possible to obtain some excellent digitalisations, and to enhance the readability of very old and damaged pages by means of non-destructive techniques, such as the use of UV light. Rhiannon mentioned the wonderful collection of fragments conserved at the Special Collections, coming from the library of the Ripon Cathedral, and said that they would have constituted and an excellent testing-ground for these photographic techniques.

Things rapidly evolved and the project finally begun in May 2015: since then, I have had the fantastic and exciting opportunity of working on a weekly basis on these unedited parchments and papers written in Latin, French and Late Middle-English, and now that they have all been digitalised, I will need to accurately catalogue each image. These will be made available online on the website of the Special Collections in due course.

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