The Great Lost Library of Alcuin’s York exhibition to take place at the University of York

The Great Lost Library of Alcuin’s York exhibition to take place at the University of York

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A new series of multimedia exhibitions at the University of York will begin next month starting with the fascinating story of the great lost library of Alcuin and the research of Dr Mary Garrison from the University’s Department of History.

In the eighth century, York owed its reputation as one of the most intellectually influential cities in Europe to the library and school headed by the scholar Alcuin. However, the library has vanished; no books now exist that can be proven to have come from it. The disappearance of the library is a mystery. Was it destroyed in the violence of ninth-century Viking conquest, or were some books from it exported and recopied? The exhibition allows visitors to follow the clues to this mystery.

Open to all, the free exhibition ‘The Great Lost Library of Alcuin’s York’ uses photographs, primarily of eighth-century books in Anglo-Saxon and Caroline minuscule, alongside specially made work by local calligraphers Dorothy Wilkinson, Sue Sparrow and Angela Dalleywater, to tell the story of the lost library.

A multimedia installation will run in the 3Sixty immersive space alongside the physical exhibits, giving an exciting different perspective on the story of Alcuin’s library.

The exhibition has received funding from the Yorkshire Philosophical Society, the Sheldon Memorial Trust and YDFAS – the York branch of the National Association of Decorative & Fine Arts Societies.

Dr Garrison said: “The school and library of York were the finest in eighth-century Europe. Students came from afar to study with Alcuin. Charlemagne chose Alcuin as his advisor because Alcuin was the most learned man of his time. The great library has vanished, but the surviving information about its growth, use, and disappearance makes a fascinating story.”

Professor John Robinson, the University of York’s Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Teaching, Learning and Information, said: “‘The Lost Library of Alcuin’ promises to provide a fascinating insight into the hugely influential early medieval library, allowing York residents and visitors to learn more about this remarkable era in the city’s past. The inclusion of a 3Sixty immersive audio and visual experience will add an extra dimension, and blaze the trail for future Research in Focus exhibitions.”

‘The Lost Library of Alcuin’ exhibition can be viewed from 2 to 11 June from 10am to 5.30pm in the Exhibition Space, the Ron Cooke Hub, Heslington East. An earlier version of the exhibition, without the 3Sixty display, premiered at the Minster Library last year. See Exhibition: The Great Lost Library of Alcuin’s York for details about that event.

S0urce: University of York

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