John Martyn, now Senior Fellow in the School of Fine Arts, Classical Studies and Archaeology, purchased these manuscripts between 1960 and 1975 for the purpose of teaching palaeography to students of Latin and Greek.
Documentation on the purchase and provenance of these manuscripts is non-existent.
In Conservation are 10 two-sided manuscript folios bound into a single volume and 17 loose leaf folios. Conservation report sheets were written (by Michael Rankin, Catherine Smith and possibly others) in mid-1995. The manuscripts are set in plastic sheets mounted in cardboard folders, except that the 10 leaves of the Letters of Gregory the Great (from Tenbury mss 807, 809, 810, 811 and perhaps more) are bound with some modern correspondance into a single volume.
One is Greek, the rest Latin; one is a bit of Cicero, the rest biblical or ecclesiastical. Dates given range from 12th century to 1480, and they are from a variety of places. Most have a brief description attached to the back of the folder.
These manuscripts have accession numbers from 1975.0093 to 1975.0110 (the bound volume is 1975.0096).
Many of the manuscripts are very attractive, with illuminated initial capitals or other decoration. None are illustrated - they were purchased for the hand and illustrate a broad range of handwriting scripts.
For the Virtual Museum John Martyn agreed to provide a transcription and translation of the manuscripts. Much of this work is complete (September 1999). John Burke has provided some of the transcriptions and translations.
In the Virtual Museum photographs of the manuscripts, transcriptions, notes to the transcription and the translations can be viewed simultaneously in separate windows.
John Martyn discovered that our manuscripts of the Letters of St Gregory the Great contain some unique readings and has prepared a new critical edition of them. In addition, with an ARC grant, he is preparing the first translation into English of the entire corpus of Gregory's letters, which are of significant historical interest.