You are in Introduction. Click here to skip the navigation.
British Library
Digital Catalogue of Illuminated Manuscripts
 Detail from the Roman de la Rose
About Simple search Manuscript search Advanced search  Virtual exhibitions Glossaries Contact us  Main
print Print this page
home Home
site search Search British Library website
back Back

About the records

For each manuscript in the Catalogue a summary description is provided that includes the information described below. If manuscripts are compiled codices (that is, they are contain parts that were written or illuminated at different times but are bound together) they will have two or more parts, one describing each of the different sections.

Listing of the author of the text, if appropriate or known.

The title of the work(s).
General names are provided for biblical, liturgical and devotional texts: Apocalypse, Psalter, Hours, Breviary, etc.
'Named' manuscripts (such as the Luttrell Psalter or the Lindisfarne Gospels) have their nicknames in brackets.

The country or other region in which the manuscript was made. Whenever possible, more specific details of origin are provided in parentheses.

The approximate height and width of an average page, followed by the approximate height and width of the written space in parentheses, in millimetres.

Our nomenclature for early manuscipts is based on M.P. Brown, A Guide to Western Historical Scripts from Antiquity to 1600 (British Library: London and University of Toronto: Toronto, 2nd edn. 1993). For post-1100 manuscripts we use a limited number of generic terms such as 'gothic', 'gothic cursive', etc., which encompass scripts sometimes called by names such as 'textura', 'littera textualis', etc.

A list of the types of illumination and decoration arranged hierarchically, from fully painted miniatures, to minor decorated and flourished initials.

The history of the manuscript from its creation to the present day.

A basic classification of the binding, sometimes with notes of other external elements of interest (e.g. fore-edge painting, tooling, and gilding; metalwork, ivory or textile decorative elements). Bindings are classified in one of three categories: Pre-1600; Post-1600; or BM/BL in-house, which denotes a binding produced by the British Library or, before 1973, the British Museum.

A selective bibliography in chronological order.

The images on this website are derived from several sources, including scanned 35mm Kodachrome slides, Ektachrome transparencies, and digital live-imaging. Three sizes of JPEGs are available on the website: thumbnail, medium and large. For information about using and reproducing these images, see Reproductions and copyright


Abbreviations have been kept to a minimum in Catalogue records. Those used include:

b. / d. born / died
c. circa
E. / N. /S. /W. East / North / South / West
f. / ff. folio / folios
MS / MSS manuscript / manuscripts
p. / pp. page / pages
v verso
print Print this page
home Home
site search Search British Library website
back Back
top Back