From manuscript fragments to book history

Medieval Nordic collaboration

Cultural impulses did not only go from south to north; ideas, knowledge and books where also exchanged within Scandinavia. Among Norwegian manuscript fragments is also evidence of the movement of books and scribes between northern centres.

Owing to the palaeographical analyses done on Scandinavian Latin material in the last decade, we are already to some degree able to distinguish between different Nordic scribal centres. Two groups stand out so far: the fragments from manuscripts written by Icelandic scribes, and fragments from books which may be connected to Lund, the Danish arch see.

The Icelandic material in Norway can mainly be dated to the thirteenth century, and probably represents a combination between books imported from Iceland and Icelandic scribes working in Norway. The small group of fragments believed to be from Lund can generally be dated to the twelfth century. As the arch see of the whole Scandinavia in the first half of the twelfth century, Lund seems to have been the scene of intense scribal activity in this period. Fragments from Danish books in Norway may not always indicate medieval ownership, but could be books brought from Denmark after the Reformation with the purpose of reusing the parchment. This will have to be evaluated in each case. 

Through modern Nordic collaboration we will develop a better eye for Scandinavian manuscript material and get a clearer impression of the dynamics between various northern scribal centres.