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A Special Kind of Stowaway: Piecing together our Fragmented Heritage

LAHRI Research Development event
Sadler Seminar Series

Special Collections at the University of Leeds looks after the rare library books of Ripon Cathedral in North Yorkshire. Hidden inside are fragments of older medieval manuscripts, “stowaways” from the past. They are covered in text, decorated initials, music, doodles and annotations. What are they? Where did they come from? Why are they there? What is their purpose? What can they tell us? And what, if anything, should we do with them?

Hear from the curator of the collection, experts in medieval history and manuscripts, and an artist who has been invited to respond to this material to help us better understand and interpret these curious stowaways from the Middle Ages.

You will have the chance to look at some of these fragments up close and join in on the discussion about future plans for these fascinating and curious remnants. There will also be an opportunity to learn more about how books were made, and how fragments such as these were put to use, in an afternoon bookbinding demonstration.

The Project Team: Emma Cayley and N. Kıvılcım Yavuz (University of Leeds); Leonardo Costantini (University of Bristol); Rhiannon Lawrence-Francis (Brotherton Special Collections); Rhian Isaac (Leeds Libraries); Alice Fox (Artist); Linette Withers (Anachronalia Bookbinding); Quinty (Institute for Medieval Studies, Leeds).

This unique day of workshops and talks at the University of Leeds is sponsored by Leeds Arts and Humanities Research Institute (LAHRI) as part of the Sadler Seminar Series, ‘Click Here to Enter: Interdisciplinary Interventions in the Brotherton Special Collections’. The series consists of unusual collaborations between academics and practitioners around a set of precious objects, run by Emma Cayley, Rhiannon Lawrence-Francis, and Tom Jackson from the University of Leeds.


10.30-11.15 Welcome and talk – ‘Understanding the Ripon Cathedral Fragments and their context’ (Leonardo Costantini, N. Kıvılcım Yavuz, and Emma Cayley) Sheppard Room

11.15-11.30 Refreshments provided (Parkinson Foyer)

11.30-12.30 Exhibition of manuscript fragments and other items with artistic response (Rhiannon Lawrence-Francis and Alice Fox) Sheppard Room

12.30-1.30 Lunch not provided (Parkinson Foyer)

1.30-3.00 Bookbinding demonstration (Linette Withers) Stanley and Audrey Burton Gallery Resource Room

3.00-3.30 Round table – conclusions and next steps (Sheppard Room)


You can book your place on this event via EVENTBRITE. Places are limited so book as soon as you can to guarantee your place.