Science and nature

Astronomy, mathematics, medicine and the natural world were widely studied and developed by medieval scholars. From medical surgery to the stars of the constellations, explore these scientific works and how they were transmitted.

The Latin text of Psalm 2, with an interlinear gloss in Old English, from an illuminated 11th-century Psalter.

Old English after the Norman Conquest

Article by:
Calum Cockburn

Calum Cockburn explores what happened to the writing of the vernacular after William the Conqueror’s invasion in 1066.

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A detail of a calendar page for September from an English Psalter, showing an illustration of grape harvesting and wine production.

Medieval calendars

Article by:
Kathleen Doyle, Cristian Ispir

Calendars provided one of the most important means of time keeping for the medieval world. Cristian Ispir and Kathleen Doyle explain how they were used.

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An illustration of a crane holding a rock, based on an account in a medieval bestiary.

Medieval Bestiary: The Crane

Collections of animal legends helped to explain the living world. Inspired by a story in an early medieval illustrated bestiary (Harley MS 4751), this animation explores the life of the crane.

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An illustration of the rebirth of the phoenix, from an English bestiary.

Beastly tales from the medieval bestiary

Article by:
Elizabeth Morrison

Legends of animals helped readers in the Middle Ages to make sense of the living world. Elizabeth Morrison delves into the wondrous and delightful stories of the medieval bestiary.

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Illustrations of constellations from a 12th-century astronomical collection.

Medieval science and mathematics

Article by:
Taylor McCall

Taylor McCall discusses early medieval approaches to various types of knowledge we might consider today to be ‘scientific’, as well as those subjects taught in the earliest universities, including mathematics and astronomy.

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A detail of a map of the world, with labels for some major cities and regions, from a 12th-century manuscript.

Mapping the world

Article by:
Hanna Vorholt

The idea of place in the early Middle Ages transcended space and time. Hanna Vorholt discusses the significance of maps in the medieval world.

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An illustration from an Anglo-Saxon manuscript of Prudentius' Psychomachia.

The classical past

Article by:
Cillian O’Hogan

Cillian O’Hogan offers an introduction to the range of classical works that shaped medieval thought on literature and scientific learning.

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An illustration of a serpent from the Old English Herbal.

Medical knowledge in the early medieval period

Article by:
Taylor McCall

Understanding of the human body and the treatment of illness in the Middle Ages derived from the works of classical authors as well as contemporary scholars. Taylor McCall examines popular medical texts and their circulation before 1200.

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Further themes

Art and illumination

Learn more about manuscript art from the illumination and decoration found in medieval books.

History and learning

Explore the spread and exchange of medieval culture and language before 1200.

Science and nature

From medical surgery to the stars of the constellations, what were the scientific works of the early Middle Ages and how were they transmitted?

Making manuscripts

Learn more about book production in the Middle Ages and how to illuminate a manuscript today.

Christian religion and belief

Discover how religious works were transmitted in the Middle Ages.

Medieval manuscript collections today

Learn more about modern care and research of medieval manuscripts.