Astronomical calendar in pictorial form

This tiny red leather book truly is an object of beauty, filled with an astounding variety of material. Small enough to fit in the palm of your hand it contains coloured sketches of saints, signs of the zodiac, details of eclipses, information about battles in Shrewsbury, Agincourt and Tewkesbury, and references to the martyrdom of St Thomas of Canterbury and the murder of Edward II. The latitude of ten towns is listed and in the fly leaves, in 15th century hand, are meteorological notes forecasting the weather. There are a number of fascinating diagrams in the book including one that estimates the distance of the planets according to Rabbi Moyses, with notes on Arabic numerals, and another that details the division of the world between Shem, Ham and Japheth. Near the centre of this magical book is an almost three-dimensional diagram, made out of three concentric revolving vellum disks, designed to assist in finding the position of the sun and the moon. The disks are covered in red and brown ink in Latin script, including numbers and small sketches of moons and planets. It is still possible to gently turn these disks, which are fixed in the centre by a piece of leather string. The string has worn a small hole in the centre of the page, which hints at the age of the document. This is possibly the most mystical object I have called up, with references to science, religion, history and mythology. I photograph the central section and the image becomes the one most commonly talked about throughout the duration of this project. R.L

Taken from: Astronomical Calendar
Date: 1420
Copyright: By permission of the British Library Board
Shelfmark: Royal 17A. XVI