Today the Parker Library hosted some much more modern equipment than the usual cutting-edge medieval book technology that we tend to handle!
A team from the Miniare project at the Fitzwilliam Museum came to analyse the pigments in volume two of the Dover Bible (MS 4) using spectroscopy- a method of bouncing light off of pigments to determine their chemical makeup. This requires surrounding darkness and a small point of light that goes into the infrared and ultraviolet range, which is then reflected off of whatever pigment, ink, or other surface that is being studied.
The Dover Bible is an aptly-named ‘giant Bible’ from the 12th century, measuring a massive 532 x 360mm and containing multiple illuminated and historiated initials. MSS 3 and 4 form the two-volume bible that was made for Dover Priory, a dependency of Christ Church Cathedral Priory, in Canterbury. It was a truly high-spec production, not only in the unusual size of the books, but in the quality of the bright colours created by rare minerals that were carefully sourced, processed, and applied. The goal of the spectroscopy study is to determine which pigments were used in its production and how the materials used to make the pigments- lapis, vermillion, copper, ultramarine, minium, azurite, lead, organics, etc.- correspond to known art historical trends.