Wednesday, 20 March 2013

goodly spring of flowers

It was fitting that on the first day of spring I was going to a Cambridge Science Festival event  titled 'a goodly spring of flowers'. The event allowed us to have a peak at some of the oldest books in Cambridge University Library. I wasn't sure what to expect but I knew there would be some botanical illustrations and that it would be interesting.

Liam had selected the books for us to view and guided us through them with an extremely informative talk.

The 15th century herbals we so fascinating you could smell their age just oozing from the pages. The thoughts about who may have owned them and how expensive they were to have in your possession at the time (and now!!) made you think about who had had their hands on the pages. (Only Liam was allowed to touch them this evening with his clean hands). As for the contents of the books, the medical advice within gave insight into thoughts about life at the time. They also hinted at travels and life beyond English shores. How they came into the University collection was as interesting as any other part of their history. 

The books we saw spanned the ages to the 17th century and the development of ideas and classification of plants. How the books were printed and the way that they were bound was a surprise. I had not realised that books were bought unbound sometimes and bound at later dates, they could be bought in parts or rebound later with extra pages so each copy could have a very different individual history.

What I liked the most was the character that the owners added to their books with notes and annotation the best of which was a drawing of a foetus next to herbal treatments for helping in pregnancy.

Incase you want more information about the science festival and its varied programme 

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