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Last Updated: Wednesday, 13 February 2008, 06:58 GMT
Medieval Studies centre launched
Parliament records. Courtesy of Special Collections, University of St Andrews
Scottish Parliament records are being digitised by the department
One of the largest centres in the world for Medieval Studies has opened at the University of St Andrews.

The new institute will house 30 staff from departments across the university, including English, history, modern languages and divinity.

St Andrews already has a Medieval History department but the new facility will cover a wider subject area and will result in staff numbers doubling.

The department has been involved in a project to digitise parliament records.

When it ends this year, it will create one of the most comprehensive records of Scottish Parliamentary proceedings ever made available.

The project has lasted almost 10 years.

Unique offering

The new centre will cover research and teachings from across the Medieval world.

It will range from the Middle East and the Mediterranean to the British Isles and Scandinavia.

Institute director Dr Frances Andrews said, "We currently have one of the largest centres for the study of Medieval History in the Anglophone world, but there has been an increasing trend in recent years to develop interdisciplinary studies in this area.

"The teaching will include an extraordinary chronological range and by combining Byzantine and Middle East Studies with study of the medieval west, make us unique in the UK.

"The development will not only bring world class researchers to St Andrews but will encourage creative collaboration between colleagues in different schools across the university."

The centre's opening is being marked by a public lecture by a world renowned expert on the middle ages.

Professor Gerd Althoff, from the University of Munster, will speak about forms and functions of irony in Medieval politics.

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