Click here to skip to content

More about the 5 treasures from across the UK

The competition

In spring 2007, the British Library, in collaboration with the Society of Chief Librarians, Scottish library chiefs and Microsoft, launched a competition to put treasures held in UK public libraries online.

Libraries across the UK were challenged to uncover the ‘hidden treasures’ in their collections which most deserved to be transformed into Turning the Pages 2.0 ‘virtual texts’. The competition was generously sponsored by Microsoft and 82 entries had been received by the closing date. The five winning entries are available to view here for the next three years.

Winning entry: The Diaries of William Searell of Beddgelert, Caernarfonshire, 1844-1846

Conwy Archive Service, Conwy County Borough Council

Two, small, leather-bound volumes, handwritten in elegant copperplate. These diaries vividly depict Welsh rural life in the mid-19th century, as seen through the eyes of a 14- year-old boy.

Winning entry: The Arbuthnott Missal, 1491

Renfrewshire Council

This spectacular illuminated missal was one of the few Scottish items of its kind to survive the Reformation. It includes beautiful paintings and a blood-curdling rite of excommunication, and provides a unique insight into the forms of worship practised in Scottish churches.

Winning entry: Sir George Leonard Staunton's account of an embassy from the King of Great Britain to the Emperor of China, 1797

Belfast Central Library

The finely detailed mezzotint plates in these volumes describe and illustrate the visit of the first British envoy to China. They offer a vivid record of a period when China was opening up to the West, and also demonstrate Ireland’s global connections in the late 18th century.

Winning entry: Dorset Federation of Women's Institutes War Records 1939-1945

Dorset Library Service in partnership with Dorset History Centre and Dorset School Library Service

A compelling snapshot of life on the Home Front, this unique volume contains stories of evacuees, jam making, enemy air men, barrage balloons and the coming of the US Army. Illustrated throughout with photographs and beautiful drawings by hand.

Winning entry: The Textus Roffensis

The Dean and Chapter of Rochester Cathedral and the Director of Community Services, Medway Council

Compiled in 1123-1124, this iconic work contains the earliest record of the English language, the first recorded English laws and the Coronation Oath of Henry I which influenced the barons who drafted Magna Carta.