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Medieval “Merlin” Pages Found in Bristol Library

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Merlin manuscript pagesBRISTOL, ENGLAND—Birmingham Live reports that Michael Richardson of the University of Bristol found parts of a thirteenth-century manuscript in a series of sixteenth-century French scholarly books held at the Bristol Central Library. The fragments tell the tale of a battle, and contain names from the Arthurian legends, including Arthur, Merlin, Gawain, King Ban, and King Bohors. The pages are thought to have been part of a text known as the Vulgate Cycle, or Lancelot Grail Cycle, which Sir Thomas Malory used as a source for Le Morte D’Arthur. Leah Tether of the University of Bristol said the books were printed in Strasbourg between 1494 and 1502, and are thought to have been bound in England in the early sixteenth century. The older Arthurian parchment fragments were probably in the binder’s workshop, and were likely reused in the process of attaching the pages of the newer book to its covering. At a later date, when the books were rebound, the pasted Arthurian sheets were probably reused as flyleaves. A study of the books with infrared technology could reveal more information about them. To read in-depth about excavations at Tintagel Castle, the legendary home of King Arthur, go to “A Dark Age Beacon.”

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