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medieval-religion: Scholarly discussions of medieval religion and culture

> -----Original Message-----
> From: Humanist Discussion Group (by way of Willard McCarty
> <[log in to unmask]>) 
> [mailto:[log in to unmask]]
> Sent: 05 August 2003 06:21
> To: [log in to unmask]
> Subject: 17.177 Durham Liber Vitae project: press release
> 
> 
>                Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 17, No. 177.
>        Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London
>                    www.kcl.ac.uk/humanities/cch/humanist/
>                         www.princeton.edu/humanist/
>                      Submit to: [log in to unmask]
> 
> 
> 
>          Date: Tue, 05 Aug 2003 06:11:32 +0100
>          From: Willard McCarty <[log in to unmask]>
>          Subject: Durham Liber Vitae Project
> 
> DURHAM LIBER VITAE PROJECT
> www.kcl.ac.uk/humanities/cch/dlv/
> 
> Press release, August 2003. Please recirculate.
> 
> A major project to produce an innovative computerised edition of the
> medieval Durham Liber Vitae, with full supporting scholarly 
> material, is
> now underway in partnership with the British Library. The 
> project is funded
> by the Arts and Humanities Research Board.
> 
> This Liber Vitae, or "book of life" was one among several put 
> together in
> Europe during the Middle Ages. As the name suggests, these books were
> modelled on the one envisioned in the biblical book of 
> Revelation, hence to
> be inscribed therein was, at least originally, a highly 
> meaningful act. The
> Durham Liber Vitae originated in the mid-ninth-century as a 
> list of several
> hundred names of persons associated with a Northumbrian 
> church, probably
> Lindisfarne, but possibly Monkwearmouth/Jarrow. (These names, 
> written in
> alternating gold and silver, are arranged according to the status and
> functions of the persons who bore them and have the potential 
> to provide
> remarkable insights into a 'dark age' of English history.)  
> In the 10th and
> 11th centuries a few more names were entered. Then, around 
> the year 1100,
> the book began to be used to record the names of all the 
> monks of Durham,
> as well as a very large number of lay people, some great 
> persons, others so
> humble that nothing else is known of them. Family groups also appear,
> especially the families of the last monks of Durham before Henry VIII
> dissolved the cathedral monastery in 1539, when the book 
> ceased to be used.
> 
> The kinds and arrangements of these names raise several important
> historical questions. Why, for example, were the names listed 
> in this way?
> What light can they shed on the political, social and 
> cultural history of
> medieval England, e.g. the emergence of Scandinavian and 
> Norman names in
> the eleventh century? What can be learned from the 
> innumerable examples of
> handwriting which the book contains? What patterns are 
> discernible in the
> development of the languages (Old English, Middle English, 
> Scandinavian,
> Britonic, Irish) in which the names are written?
> 
> Despite its great historical importance, the book has not 
> been as widely
> studied as it deserves because access to the manuscript 
> itself has been
> limited, and it has been impossible to edit by conventional 
> means. Hence
> the current project to design an electronic edition that will not only
> provide high-definition images of all pages but also make 
> possible complete
> representation of all that is known about the manuscript and 
> its contents.
> The edition will represent a major step forward in the computer
> representation of medieval manuscripts.
> 
> The Durham Liber Vitae project is led by Prof. David Rollason 
> and Mr Alan
> Piper (AHRB Centre for North-East England History, University 
> of Durham)
> and by Dr Willard McCarty and Mr Harold Short (Centre for 
> Computing in the
> Humanities, King's College London). The major part of the 
> work is currently
> being undertaken by the project's researcher, Dr Andrew 
> Wareham (King's
> College London) and by the technical officer (Dr Gabriel 
> Bodard, King's
> College London). A second researcher will be appointed to 
> start work in
> November 2003 at the University of Durham.
> 
> 
> 
> Dr Willard McCarty | Senior Lecturer | Centre for Computing in the
> Humanities | King's College London | Strand | London WC2R 2LS 
> || +44 (0)20
> 7848-2784 fax: -2980 || [log in to unmask]
> www.kcl.ac.uk/humanities/cch/wlm/
> 

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