I want to make a psalter. I started ruminating on this quite a few years ago B.C. (Before Children.) I had been doing medieval calligraphy for quite a few years and wanted to branch out into a medieval, yet more personal, effort. Psalters - a collection of the psalms - were one of the few types of books which were common in the Middle Ages. Yes, this would be if you were wealthy to start off with. There are some doozies out there. The stupendously wealthy would have them custom made, in lieu of a Mazeratti to show off wealth. One of the most spectacular examples is from Jean Duc de Berry. I used to have a copy of excerpts. It is the most impressive example of late medieval illumination I've ever seen. The calligraphy I posted a few days ago was based upon this.
There are extant examples dating back to the 7th Century (in Ireland) from across Europe. The earlier stuff - Merovingian, Carolingian & early Irish - are really appealing to me. Convenient, since they are light on the illumination. A companion skill I never developed much beyond a rudimentary level. I worked with several skilled illuminators, so I didn't see any point in pursuing something I didn't really care for.
A couple years ago, a bulldozer operator in the middle of Ireland discovered a psalter while excavating peat in a bog. It is estimated to be from ~750 AD, apparently based upon the one visible page. As the director of the National Museum in Ireland stated, it is utterly astonishing that this thing managed to survive 1000 years or more. I can't wait to see what it looks like. The museum has a page about it here.
It's intriguing the limitations they have for conservation & restoration:
can't freeze it, or it will destroy the parchment;
can't use bio-cides or it will ruin the paints or inks;
don't want too much oxygen or it will actually start decomposing ...
The problem is that, having sat in a peat bog for 1000 years, the book is rather ... well .. rather wet. How to dry it out without destroying it? There will likely be quite a few dissertations addressing the many facets of this.
This link goes to a page, at the bottom of which is a .pdf file providing a summary of the conservation project. As both a scientist and an avid interest in the specific type of object, I was utterly enchanted. p. 9 has a before / after photograph of one of the first pages they've treated. Holy cow!
This is just soooooooooo coooooolll
1 day ago