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A bestiary contains Christian allegorical lessons based on the characteristics and habits of animals found in nature and legend. Originating from the Physiologus, a late antique anonymous compilation of natural history, the bestiary with added pictures became a popular picture-book in England from the 12th century onwards.

This luxury copy was probably made professionally by commercial scribes in Salisbury. Sections of the text are arranged by the type of animal described, such as mammals, birds, serpents, insects and fish.

The large number of illustrations in this copy – it has over 100 – suggests that this deluxe bestiary may have been made for a wealthy lay reader rather than a cleric. Several depict scenes redolent of aristocratic life, including knights on horseback, hunting with hounds, and hawking.

This manuscript was digitised with the support of The Polonsky Foundation.