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Monday, 12 August, 2002, 12:52 GMT 13:52 UK
15m medieval book goes online
The Sherborne Missal on the British Library website
Users turn the pages by clicking their mouse
Internet users can examine one of the UK's most valuable medieval books by virtually turning the pages and zooming in on details after it was put online.

The 800-year-old Sherborne Missal, worth 15m, has been put on the internet using new technology that allows people to study it without it being handled.

Visitors can turn six of the text's richly-decorated pages, which set out the order of service of the Catholic Church, and can examine details and lavish illustrations in the border.

Touch-screen version of the manuscript
Touch-screen versions have been available in the library
The Sherborne Missal, which was saved by the nation by a donation, is the first text to be put online using new "turning the pages" technology.

Until now, it has only been available on screens in the British Library, London, and at a few other sites.

The library also contains screens with virtual copies of several other works including the 7th-Century Lindisfarne Gospels and Leonardo da Vinci's notebook.

The Sherborne Missal was created in the early 15th Century at Sherborne Abbey, Dorset, and is regarded as a major masterpiece of UK medieval art.

"This website allows the user to experience the beauty of the Sherborne Missal in their own home, classroom or office," said Clive Izard, who invented the turning the pages technology.

"Hopefully it will inspire users to investigate further."

Donation

The site also includes audio commentaries and clips of some of the birds that are illustrated in the border.

The pages highlight include musical notations for chants, details of important events in the development of Christianity and masses for Christmas Day.

The text, which weighs 3 stone 2 lb (20 kilograms), was in private hands until 1998.

The Duke of Northumberland offered it to the nation in lieu of inheritance tax, providing the British Library could raise the funds for digitisation.

See also:

14 Jun 01 | Science/Nature
09 Jul 02 | Arts
10 Apr 02 | UK
22 Nov 00 | UK
04 Mar 02 | Americas
21 Aug 98 | Education
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