Ancient Christian texts are among a host of treasured books and manuscripts set to go on display at Cambridge University Library today, as part of a free exhibition.
Treasures to be exhibited include an illuminated ninth-century Mercian prayer-book known as the Book of Cerne which dates back to 818 AD, the only surviving illustrated manuscript from the Anglo Saxon kingdom of Mercia.
Also on display is the second oldest surviving copy of the Ecclesiastical History of the English People by the Venerable Bede, the celebrated ‘Moore Bede’ which dates from around 737AD.
The Moore Bede is one of only four copies of Bede’s Ecclesiastical History to remain from the 8th century, and contains one of the earliest copies of ‘Caedmon’s Hymn’, the earliest work from a British poet whose name is known.
The books are just two of Cambridge University Library’s gems set to go on show when the ‘Shelf Lives’ exhibition opens today.
The collection celebrates some of the extraordinary individuals who have donated their libraries to Cambridge University over the past four hundred years, and the diverse treasures they owned.
Curators have chosen a sets of books which between them represent more than 1000 years of the written and printed word. They include a velvet-bound sermon book that belonged to Queen Elizabeth I as well as handwritten manuscripts by the 16th century metaphysical poet John Donne.
Cambridge University Library is home to more than eight million items – stored on mile after mile of shelving inside the iconic Giles Gilbert Scott building.
University Librarian Anne Jarvis said: “Cambridge University Library is one of the largest accumulations of books and manuscripts in Europe, and one of the most important in the world.
“Its holdings, though, are not a single, uniform entity, but consist of a great variety of different collections which over the centuries have come to be housed under one roof and now enrich the national heritage.”
Shelf Lives is open free to the public at Cambridge University Library, West Road, from January 18-June 16. 2012. Opening hours are Mon-Fri 9am-6pm and Saturday, 9am-4.30pm.
January 18th, 2012 - Posted & Written by Simon Cross