medievalfragments

By Jenny Weston

Manuscript doodles—the small sketches often found in the margins of manuscripts—are always a welcome treat when looking through a medieval book. Despite the fact that manuscripts were written entirely by hand, the doodle is somehow a more striking reminder that someone from the Middle Ages actually held the book, read the book, and even decided to doodle a little picture in the corner. It is such a familiar compulsion, the often subconscious habit of scribbling a character or little shape on the edge of the page. Looking back at my own books from school, the margins are often filled with drawings—usually of cats (and usually in rocketships) and typically surrounded by a sea of stars, miniature cupcakes, exclamation marks and the standard ‘abstract swirl’. What a nice thought then, that nearly 900 years ago medieval readers liked to draw in their books too.

So what did the…

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