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Pen Trials And Drawings, in a Volume of Poems

Pen Trials And Drawings, in a Volume of Poems

Medium: Ink and pigments on vellum

Date: 950

Shelfmark: Royal MS 15 A.xvi

Item number: f.84v

Length: 21.3

Width: 13.5

Scale: Centimetres

Genre: Manuscript

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Containing mainly poems and treatises on verse, this manuscript is known to have belonged to the monastery of St Augustine, Canterbury, in the middle ages because of an inscription on one of its pages. Most of its pages were copied in the 9th century, almost certainly in France, but a short section in it was copied in England during the 10th and 11th centuries. The poems for the most part are religious, and the monks of St Augustine would have read the manuscript as part of their personal devotion. Those who wrote verse may have studied and imitated some of the works in it.

To a medieval scribe or artist, a blank page in a manuscript was fair game for writing notes or making drawings. The last page of this manuscript has been nearly covered over a span of centuries with letters made by scribes testing pens or attempting copies of handwriting styles. Near the top, a fairly skilled person has drawn some interlace patterns, probably as studies for decoration in another manuscript. The crudely drawn figures may have had a serious purpose at the time, but this is impossible to deduce with confidence.

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