From the BBC:
Fragments of a manuscript from the Middle Ages which tell the story of Merlin the magician from Arthurian legend have been found in a library.
Seven hand-written fragments were found by the University of Bristol’s special collections librarian.
Specialists analysing the pieces said they contained “subtle but significant” differences from the traditional story.
“We are all very excited to discover more,” said Dr Leah Tether, of the International Arthurian Society.
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A chance discovery, hidden away in a series of 16th-century books deep in the archive of Bristol Central Library, has revealed original manuscript fragments from the Middle Ages which tell part of the story of Merlin the magician, one of the most famous characters from Arthurian legend.
The seven hand-written parchment fragments were discovered by Michael Richardson from the University of Bristol’s Special Collections Library who was looking for materials for students studying the history of the book for the new MA in Medieval Studies.
They were found bound inside a four-volume edition of the works of the French scholar and reformer Jean Gerson (1363-1429) and, recognising a number of familiar Arthurian names, Michael contacted Dr Leah Tether, President of the International Arthurian Society (British Branch), from Bristol’s Department of English to see if the finds were in any way significant.
The books in which the fragments were found were all printed in Strasbourg between 1494 and 1502. At some point, these books made their way to England (probably unbound), and the style of the binding suggests they may have been first bound here in the early 16th century.
At this point, the manuscript fragments may simply have been languishing in the binder’s workshop amongst a selection of ‘waste materials’ that were often used in bindings in this period.
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