AAH News and Events

Voluntary Work Fund - Recipient's Report

Posted on Wednesday, 16th November 2011

Department of Illuminated Manuscripts, The British Library
12.07.2011- 02.08.2011
Charlotte Stovell


"With a 10-week summer ahead of me, it seemed an ideal opportunity to arrange an internship between my undergraduate and postgraduate education. Since working in a Medieval and Renaissance art gallery in Paris I had discovered an enthusiasm for medieval manuscripts and their illuminations, therefore I contacted the curator of Illuminated Manuscripts at the British Library, Kathleen Doyle, to see if there was an internship possibility within the department. To my delight, she offered me a six-week placement. My main responsibility during this time was updating the online catalogue of illuminated manuscripts, a process which enables a digital facsimile of selected manuscripts to be made available to the general public. The image library would provide me with images of each folio in the manuscript, from which I would create details of the more elaborate decorated or historiated initials, as well as the miniatures and the bas-de-page scenes. These needed to be inserted into a database and each folio and detail needed a unique description, which would also be visible on the website. With manuscripts of over 300 folios (therefore over 600 rectos and versos)…this was quite a lengthy process! The experience, however, was invaluable. Particularly when working with some of the earlier bestiaries, there was imagery which I had never come across and scribes which, on first glance, seemed illegible. I was also given various small projects, such as to write a blog, update all the Roman de la Rose manuscripts’ descriptions and write catalogue descriptions for a couple of Oriental manuscripts. The department was busy preparing the forthcoming Royal Manuscripts Exhibition, therefore I was able to assist in some of the organisation for this as well as attend the BBC filming sessions of a series of documentaries which highlight some of these Royal Manuscripts. I feel very privileged to have witnessed such historical delights and am extremely grateful to all those who played a role in making my experience at the British Library so worthwhile."