We’re back from Rolduc and I am reliving our adventure by looking at the hundreds of photo’s I took, with an abbey beer in my hand (I can absolutely recommend the beer at Rolduc!). We are still in the process of data collection, and with all the fragments and annotations we found (think hundreds)… Well, let’s say it is quite a bit of work!
Going through the photo’s we will most likely make more exciting discoveries. Will update on that later! My personal find so far is a manuscript book from 1652 with hymns. Manuscripts were all supposed to be moved to another location, but it seems they missed this one. I am still in the process of researching it and am excited to present it in a while! But for now:
Old books Rolduc (video)
The video is in Dutch, but it gives an idea of what we found, and how.
Bijzondere ontdekkingen bij onderzoek boeken Rolduc (Dutch only)
Onderzoekers van de Leidse universiteit hebben belangrijke ontdekkingen gedaan in de omslagen van boeken bij abdij Rolduc in Kerkrade.
Zo werd onder meer een muziekstuk gevonden van bijna 700 jaar oud. Ook ontdekten ze hele grote rechtshandschriften voorzien van aantekeningen. De vijftien studenten en hun begeleiders sluiten hun onderzoek dinsdag af.
(See especially the video and radio fragments!)
The media coverage of the project is great! We also appeared in newspapers:
So by now our first day of ‘treasure hunting’ in Rolduc is over. All I can say is: we found some really amazing things! Old manuscript fragments, interesting information on the provenance of the books… When you’re holding a book and a little bit of medieval handwriting peeps out..!
As today was just a ‘quick sweep’ of the three libraries in the monastery, we only have an idea of what is hidden here. I hope that by the end of tomorrow we will be able to say more about our findings..! But our findings include lithurgical manuscript pages, manuscripts on law, and fragments dating as far back as the 12th century (at least)!
For now, please keep checking the project hashtag on Twitter, as we are all actively tweeting about our findings throughout the day! #rolduc2012
And now let me give you an overview of Rolduc… and some of our findings!
The building (it’s huge)
The ceiling of the abbey church
The beautiful rococo library
And now, our findings. I promise tomorrow (if I have the chance) I will write more about what exactly we found, but here is a (very) little overview:
Tomorrow I will be leaving to the abbey Rolduc in the south of the Netherlands, along with fourteen classmates and four faculty members from the department of Book and Digital Media Studies at Leiden University. And it should prove to be extremely interesting!
While there we will be hunting in the monastic library for fragments of medieval manuscripts, hidden (or not so hidden) away in the covers of 15th to 17th century books. These covers hide wondeful treasures: pieces of old text transferred in the handwritings of medieval scribes. And the fragments convey their own, often unwritten, messages that can tell us a lot about books in the Middle Ages as well as culture of that time.
Want to read more?
Treasure Hunting in a Monastic Library
“Book bindings from the fifteenth to the eighteenth century hold hidden treasures. Book binders from this period cut up handwritten books from the Middle Ages, manuscripts, because these had become old fashioned after the invention of printing. The dismembered manuscripts were used as binding material.”
Hidden Treasure, or How Destruction Creates Beautiful Things
“It is not easy to cut up parchment quires, but judging from the evidence staring at us through the cracks in the leather today, book binders excelled at it. […] Stepping out of their leather time capsules after centuries of darkness, fragments are “blips” on the map of Europe, expressing “I existed, I was used by a reader in tenth-century Italy! (But look at me now…)””
For those interested, I also highly recommend following our Twitter hashtag #rolduc2012. We will be actively tweeting during the project!