The Great Parchment Book website has gone live!

You can now start to explore the Great Parchment Book for yourself.

A good place to start is the video on the Home Page which illustrates the challenging nature of the project.

To continue your exploration, click on “Take a look inside the book” or search for a person, place or livery company.

If you want to know more about the historical background, book or project history, investigate the history tabs at the top of the Home Page.

The website is dynamic. Work is continuing on the transcription, and transcriptions and images will continue to be added to the site. Once the transcription is complete, the book history page will be expanded to take account of new insights into the codicology of the book, and to explain the arrangement of the folios.

The Great Parchment Book Blog is now embedded into the website and you can subscribe to the Blog on the website. Work is continuing to align the original Blog and the website Blog.

If you have any comments on the website, or can offer additional insights into the Great Parchment Book and what it reveals about the people, places and organisations involved in the history of 17th century Ulster, please share via the Blog or use the comment form at the bottom of the website Home Page.


The Guildhall exhibition – Plantation: People, Process, Perspectives

The week of the 20th May.

It was an exciting, if very stressful week, as we coordinated the final period of installation of objects and archives for the exhibition.  The exhibition includes a range of objects and archives from the Derry Heritage and Museum Service collection and from national collections in London, Limerick and Dublin.  It’s certainly not a traditional museum exhibition, with a variety of engaging activities and opportunities for all visitors alongside exhibition showcases.  Ever wanted to dress up as Cahir O’Doherty… well now you can!

Staff from the London Metropolitan Archives and the National Archives Kew arrived in the city on Tuesday and installation began on Wednesday morning.  Anyone who has experience of installation will know how nervous it is not only for those travelling with rare and valuable objects but also for the loaning institute staff who are put to the test to ensure the showcases, environmental readings and general exhibition requirements can be met.  But all is well, despite some last minute hitches with stubborn archive drawers, additional mylar straps to ensure no movement of the archives, my colleagues from London worked patiently and diligently to ensure the archives were installed… and look fantastic.

After reading and reviewing the Irish Society collection in the LMA and feeling like I know every line in those familiar early seventeenth century maps of the city it feels we achieved something significant as visitors to the exhibition will see them on display in the city where their journey began.

Next we have objects arriving from the Hunt Museum Limerick and from the National Museum of Ireland collection… as well as a unique piece of textile art from artist Deborah Stockdale!

Exhibition at Derry’s Guildhall opening soon!

Exhibition at Derry’s Guildhall – Plantation: Process, People, Perspectives

Opening in June 2013

Bernadette Walsh Archivist at Derry City Council’s Heritage and Museum’s Service writes:

After many months of researching archive and museum collections, wrestling with start and end dates, what themes to cover and the successful appointment of Museum Designers (Tandem) we now find ourselves just a few weeks away from the opening of the exhibition!

The exhibition will look at the Plantation, how it was planned, how people were effected and what is the legacy today. With Tandem we wanted to explore this particular period of history not only to learn and understand more about our conflicting past but to also allow visitors to the exhibition an opportunity to interact with some of the personalities and problems that developed. It is also an opportunity to showcase a fantastic collection of original maps, drawings and museum objects loaned by national institutions such as the London Metropolitan Archives, the National Archives UK and the National Museum of Ireland.

Open studio event at LMA – Behind the Scenes in Conservation

Next Tuesday 20th November we will have an open studio day. This is an opportunity to come and see the repaired and housed Great Parchment Book. Rachael will show you the techniques she has used to humidify, tension dry and repaired the parchment.

Just come to London Metropolitan Archives between 10 and 12 or 14 and 16. To find out more please click here.
See you soon!

Great Parchment Book membranes

Welcome to the project blog!

The Great Parchment Book is an early 17th century survey of the County of Londonderry. This manuscript has been described by the University of Ulster as forming almost a ‘Domesday Book of Derry’.

Moreover, it is a manuscript that has been completely inaccessible to scholars for over 200 years, since it was heavily damaged in a fire at Guildhall in 1786. The manuscript forms part of the collection of the Hon The Irish Society housed at London Metropolitan Archives. It is hoped that the development of new digital methodologies will allow the opening up of the obscured text and enable the production of usable 3-D digital images and a transcription of the complete manuscript.

These techniques have never been tried on manuscripts before, and so, if successful, would provide exciting possibilities for other damaged parchment manuscripts in the City of London’s collections and beyond.

This blog will record our journey. 

The photographs on the ‘Project’ page and those below should give you some idea of the challenges we face!