Click here to skip to content

Priscian, Book of Geographic Descriptions

Priscian, Book of Geographic Descriptions

Medium: Ink and pigments on vellum

Date: 1130

Shelfmark: Cotton MS Vespasian B XXV

Item number: f.78r

Length: 27

Width: 18.8

Scale: Centimetres

Genre: Illuminated Manuscript

C. Julius Solinus wrote the 'Wonders of the World' or 'Collection of Memorable Things', probably in the mid-third century AD. He unblushingly plagiarised material on ancient curiosities from Pliny's 'Natural History' and other works to create a gazetteer of geography, historical events, religion, customs, and natural history. Revised in the 6th century under the title 'Polyhistor,' it became very popular in the Middle Ages, although its title was mistaken as the author's name. The 'Wonders of the World' included a short section on the British Isles and Ireland, and introduced the name Mare Mediterraneum (Mediterranean Sea).

Solinus's book was put together with other ancient works on the marvels of the world. This page begins a copy of the 'Liber Periegesis' ('Book of Geographic Descriptions') by the Roman author Priscian. It is the type of work that remained of interest to medieval churchmen and monks because it discussed things such as souls migrating to an island of the Black Sea where they remained as white birds. They could readily adapt such 'natural science' material to Christian thinking. The beginning of the book is emphasised with capital letters, the first one decorated.

Search within this collection

Elsewhere on our websites


Latest events - register free online

Mobile app

For iPhone, iPad and Android

Report a Concern

What is the nature of your concern?

Report a Concern

What is the nature of your concern?

Email link to a friend

Write a brief note to accompany the email

Your friend's email address: