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Shambles!

April 14, 2015

Warning: the following entry makes for fantastically dull reading – it’s really just me working through a major paleographical problem in writing. I’m hopeful that recording every bump in the road of my paleographical project will help me avoid mistakes and misfortunes in my future paleography adventures, or at the very least make my limited time in the archives run a little more smoothly.

So, for those of you following along with my paleography woes, my project is currently in shambles. The trouble I’ve been having is that none of the images I’ve received from the Dublin City Archives (at least the ones I’ve looked at so far) appear to match up with the documents I’ve requested, and this has had me completely befuddled. But, I think I know what’s going on now. Apparently, somewhere along the line in its shadowy past, the Liber Albus Dubliniensis (“White Book of the Dublin,” a compilation of civic documents and memoranda) received a dual pagination system. Many of the images in my collection have a number at the top and a number at the bottom of the page. Presumably, one of these refers to the manuscript’s folio number; I’m at a loss as to what the other number refers to.

The published source that led me to these documents is John T. Gilbert’s Calendar of Ancient Records of Dublin. A calendar contains abbreviated summaries of documents in a manuscript, so in order to get the full text of each document I have to view the original – hence my request to the Archives for digital images of the documents that piqued my interest the most. I’m beginning to understand now that the folio numbers that Gilbert gives in his calendar for each document is probably the number at the bottom of each page in the manuscript. The Archives’ photographer, however, followed the numbering system at the top of each page. In other words, when I requested folio 49 (according to Gilbert’s calendar), they gave me folio 14 (which has a ’49’ written at the top). So, it will take some work to sort out which documents I actually have in my possession, and which ones I still need to view – this is probably something that will happen when I finally sit down with the Liber Albus in person in Dublin. The detective work is a little bit fun, I’ll admit – loads more fun, at least, than those awful Latin abbreviations that have been making my head spin.

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