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Marginal Drawings Of Pagans In A Coracle And On Horseback, In Gerald of Wales's 'History And Topography Of Ireland'

Marginal Drawings Of Pagans In A Coracle And On Horseback, In Gerald of Wales's 'History And Topography Of Ireland'

Medium: Ink and pigments on vellum

Date: 1220

Shelfmark: Royal MS 13 B.viii

Item number: f.29r

Length: 27.7

Width: 18.5

Scale: Centimetres

Genre: Illuminated Manuscript

Gerald of Wales was born at Monorbier castle, in Pembrokeshire, in 1146. He was educated at Gloucester and Paris, and became Archdeacon of Brecon in 1175. He visited Ireland in 1183, 1185, 1199 and again for about two years from 1204. A version of his text--which is largely concerned with the marvellous things he saw or heard about there--is known to have been read publicly in 1188. This manuscript was written perhaps at Lincoln, probably before Gerald's death in 1223, and it has been suggested that he personally supervised its writing and decoration. This manuscript was later owned by St. Augustine's Abbey, Canterbury.

Gerald tells of a people who lived on an island in the sea of Connaught, who had never been in contact with outsiders, so they were almost naked, as they did not know how to make clothes; and they used coracles, as they did not know how to make larger boats; and had never heard of Christianity. The note added in the upper margin explains the second drawing: women as well as men ride horses with one leg to each side.

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