Category: Project updates

Great Parchment Book goes to Girdlers’ Hall

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Display 2Two original folios of the Great Parchment Book were on display at a reception at Girdlers’ Hall on Monday 8 May 2017 held by the Honourable The Irish Society for the City of London livery companies and the City of London. The reception provided an opportunity for attendees to learn more about the Honourable The Irish Society’s charitable grants programme and mission to strengthen the special relationship between the City of London and Northern Ireland that has existed for over 400 years. Guests were invited to reconnect to a shared history, and engage with the continuing social and economic development of the Province.

Display 5A piper from the 1st Battalion the Irish Guards provided a musical accompaniment to the start of the evening, before guests were welcomed by The Reverend Sir George Newton, Bt, Master of the Worshipful Company of Girdlers. Quietly passionate speeches from Alderman Sir David Wootton, Governor of the Irish Society and Deputy Henry Pollard, Deputy Governor followed, with Mr William Charnley, master of the Worshipful Company of Drapers talking about his own company’s contribution to charitable causes in Northern Ireland through the Irish Society. The Girdlers’ Company Beadle, Robert Young, was master of ceremonies and cheerfully, but firmly kept us all in order.

Display 6There was much interest in the folios of the Great Parchment Book on display. The City of London, eight of the Great Twelve of the City of London livery companies and the Irish Society had all contributed to the project to conserve and digitally reconstruct the book, and it was a pleasure to talk about this important source for the history of Northern Ireland, and the project to make it accessible again after 200 years, to members of the livery companies which are represented in the book.

The two folios displayed were of Fishmongers’ Company lands (folios F7v and F8r) chosen as much for their physical appearance (distortion, shrunken text, evidence of singeing) as much as content. A modern transcription of the pages taken from the Great Parchment Book website was supplied. The folios were carefully presented under a bespoke Perspex dome sitting on the Tyvek sheets which usually support them in their bespoke packaging. This gave guests the rare opportunity to view the original folios at close quarters, at the same time keeping them safe. Philippa Smith from London Metropolitan Archives was on hand throughout the evening to keep a close eye on the folios as well as to answer questions.Display 3

Thanks go to Robert Young, Beadle of the Girdlers’ Company and his staff for looking after the folios in secure storage before the after the event, and to the support of the Irish Society, especially Edward Montgomery, Secretary, who had suggested London Metropolitan Archives should bring the folios along to the event.

 

 

 

Great Parchment Book goes to Glasgow (and Finland)

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edcr2016-2We were fortunate that the launch of the major academic paper on the Great Parchment Book project coincided with London Metropolitan Archives’ Charlie Turpie presenting the project at the Symposium on Evaluating Digital Cultural Resources (EDCR2016) in Glasgow on 13 December 2016.

Charlie commented afterwards that one of the themes that emerged from the symposium was that physical and digital often go hand in hand and continue to have a relationship – this came out in various papers. The Great Parchment Book presentation captured that perfectly – seeing the transformation from shrivelled parchment to digital image was a real wow for the audience. The audience also got the pathos of the membranes being preserved for 200 years just in case they could be made accessible one day.A box of folios from the Great Parchment Book before they were conserved and repackaged

One attendee was very pleased that the Great Parchment Book website features both the before and after shots of the folios as other projects only show the digitally enhanced images which is not as useful as having both.

That the presentation was very well received is reflected in the contemporaneous comments on Twitter of which a selection is given below:

  • Fantastic #GreatParchmentBook project presented by @CharlieTurpie @LdnMetArchives #EDCR2016 Loved the poppadoms analogy!
  • Gasp from audience as @CharlieTurpie shows an image of the #greatparchmentbook fragments in a box. Yikes! #edcr2016
  • ‘a mass of scorched and dirty fragments’ – tricky task to create a digitised version of the #greatparchmentbook #EDCR2016
  • Project allows users to navigate and flatten digital images to digitally uncover the text within. Cool! #greatparchmentbook #edcr2016
  • Digital reconstruction to enable access is fab; book & its contents are also significant for local community #edcr2016 #greatparchmentbook
  • Definitive article on fascinating #greatparchmentbook released today! Can’t wait to read more on it after #EDCR2016
  • #greatparchmentbook is such an awesome project!

You can catch up with the Great Parchment Book project on Twitter by using the hashtag #greatparchmentbook.

The paper, published in Oxford University Press’s Digital Scholarship in the Humanities journal, is freely available online. At the time of writing it is doing very well online and is already in the top 5% of papers in Altmetric (which tracks online research outputs), and 99th centile for attention; it is the number one output from digital scholarship in the humanities.

Great Parchment Book in Finland

The Great Parchment Book’s world tour continued with Tim Weyrich, Professor of Visual Computing, Virtual Environments and Computer Graphics Group, Department of Computer Science, University College London, lead of the project digital acquisition and reconstruction, giving the keynote at SyysGraph 2016, the Finnish computer graphics scene’s leading annual event, the previous evening. His talk on Problem-Aware Digitization of Cultural Heritage Artifacts featured the Great Parchment Book as one of the case studies and he was able to promote the paper which was published the following day.

Great Parchment Book: major paper published

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EssenceOur partners at UCL have announced the publication of a major paper describing the process of conserving, imaging, virtually flattening, and finally reading the Great Parchment Book of the Honourable The Irish Society, held in London Metropolitan Archives. As followers of this blog will know the project saw archivists, conservators, imaging scientists, historians, computer scientists, and digital humanities experts working together in an interdisciplinary, international partnership. We developed a low-cost process for conserving, digitizing, 3D-reconstructing, and virtually flattening the fire-damaged, buckled parchment, enabling new readings and understanding of the text to be created.

GlobalThe paper, published in Oxford University Press’s Digital Scholarship in the Humanities journal, presents a complete overview of the project, detailing the conservation, digital acquisition, and digital reconstruction methods used. It is freely available in open access, meaning anyone can read the details of the project, and see our images and videos to understand the scope and scale of the project, and its contribution to the restoration of the Great Parchment Book. It is freely available online.

Note: Please use the hashtag #greatparchmentbook when referring to the project on social media.

Significance of the project for some of the key partners

ucl-veivProfessor Tim Weyrich, Professor of Visual Computing, Virtual Environments and Computer Graphics Group, Department of Computer Science, University College London, lead of the digital acquisition and reconstruction said: “I feel privileged having been able to conduct computer science and imaging research in the context of a project of such cultural importance. We were fortunate enough that the engagement with the humanities’ unique problem domain allowed us to go beyond mere application of known techniques, pushing the boundary in our own research field while making a tangible difference to the wider public.”

irish-society-coat-of-arms-colour-jpgEdward Montgomery, Secretary of The Honourable The Irish Society, said: “We are delighted that The Honourable The Irish Society has been part of a major collaborative project to bring The Great Parchment Book, one of its most historic documents, ‘back to life’. The Book is a marvellous testament to history and provides a detailed account from 1639 of the City of London’s role in the Plantation of Ulster and its administration. It is a valuable tool for anyone interested in their ancestral history within Ulster and an excellent teaching aid for those exploring early modern Ireland.”

lma-logoGeoff Pick, Director of London Metropolitan Archives said: “The City of London Corporation, through London Metropolitan Archives, has been delighted to be a major partner in the Great Parchment Book project, one of the most innovative in the archive sector in recent years.  It places great value on the Book, not least in helping the City’s support for the 400th anniversary of the building of Derry’s city walls in 2013 and the state visit to London of the President of Ireland in 2014.   The Book has also been recognised by UNESCO as being of outstanding national importance this year when it was inscribed on the UK Memory of the World Register, the first on the Register concerning Northern Ireland.”

UCLDH logoProfessor Melissa Terras, Director of UCL Centre for Digital Humanities said: “It has been a pleasure to work on this project, which has brought together expertise from so many different angles, allowing us to finally provide advanced access to this important, but very damaged, document. The conservation, imaging, and reconstruction have all contributed to the creation of a digital resource of lasting value for researchers, students, and the wider public. Our work encourages further understanding of the role of the City of London in the plantation, and the importance of the Great Parchment Book to its local, national, and international contexts. It also shows us the benefits of undertaking advanced digital projects in the area of cultural heritage.”

Full citation details

Pal, K., Avery, N., Boston, P., Campagnolo, A., De Stefani, C., Matheson-Pollock, H., Panozzo, D., Payne, M., Schüller, C., Sanderson, C., Scott, C., Smith, P., Smither, R., Sorkine-Hornung, O., Stewart, A., Stewart, E., Stewart, P., Terras, M., Walsh, B., Ward, L., Yamada, L., Weyrich, T. (2016). “Digitally reconstructing the Great Parchment Book: 3D recovery of fire-damaged historical documents” Digital Scholarship in the Humanities, Oxford University Press.

Great Parchment Book goes to South Korea

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seoul-1At the International Council on Archives Congress at Seoul, South Korea Friday 9 September 2016, London Metropolitan Archives’ Tim Harris presented on the collaboration and cooperation which resulted in the successful outcomes of the Great Parchment Book Project.

The audience was excited to see the transformation of the Great Parchment Book and several members of the audience noted the excellence of the blog.

seoul-2One member of ICA, Gerard Foley from the Archives of Western Australia, revealed that he had found two of his ancestors who had been carpenters in Londonderry.

People were pleased to learn that the products and outcome were continuing to be shared and developed.

 

For another view from Seoul, go to the Borthwick Institute of Archives blog post Up and AtoM: The Borthwick Institute Goes To South Korea.

An essential and enduring online resource

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The Great Parchment Book website is proving to be an essential online resource in several fields of study, with even the blog itself used as a case study.

Examples which have come to our attention recently include:

 

If text then code websiteThe Great Parchment Book project is being used as a case study in an undergraduate course in the Digital Humanities. If text then code is taught by Dr Diane Jakacki at Bucknell University, a liberal arts college in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania in the United States of America. On the course students write and critique code as a form of textual engagement, and amongst other skills, gain competency with TEI­-compliant XML, the code we used to encode the text of the Great Parchment Book and facilitate online accessibility. Currently, London Metropolitan Archives, in partnership with UCL, are looking at how we can make the XML from the Great Parchment Book more widely available.

 

1641 depositions learning websiteThe Great Parchment Book is referenced as an enriching research resource for understanding the history of the Ulster Plantation on Trinity College Library Dublin’s learning website about the 1641 Depositions. The digitisation of the depositions, which we have looked at previously on the Great Parchment Book blog, has opened up these sources for use in the classroom and 1641 Depositions Bridge21 Learning Resources website enables secondary school students in Ireland to hone their skills as young historians while learning about the plantations, the 1641 rebellion and their impact on Irish history.

 

NMCT case studiesThe National Manuscript Conservation Trust, to which we are grateful for funding the Great Parchment Book conservation project, features it as a case study on its website and also highlights the blog as one of the best about conservation projects that have benefitted from NMCT grants.

 

Cilip blogThe Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals (CILIP) also asked London Metropolitan Archives to write about the pleasures and pitfalls of writing the Great Parchment Book blog for their own blog as a case study.

 

 

Inside HistoryAustralia and New Zealand’s Inside History Magazine has included a link to the Great Parchment Book website in its latest issue as a handy hint for those searching for Northern Ireland ancestors, especially those from the County of Londonderry. This has been driving a lot of traffic to the website since it was published, and some of those visitors are then going on to look at other related Irish genealogical sources for which we provide information and links.

 

Sometimes we are frustrated as we can’t see exactly what the Great Parchment Book website is being used for. For example, we know it’s  referenced in an online learning module run by the University of Haifa in Israel, but we can’t see what it is as it’s for registered users only!

 

UCLThe Great Parchment Book website is used cross-discipline and worldwide, reflecting the comprehensive and enduring nature of the work it represents. Not least, the Great Parchment Book is used by our close partners at UCL in the Centre for Digital Humanities and Department of Computer Science and you can follow this on UCL’s own website relating to the project and on related pages.

Great Parchment Book on Twitter

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You can also keep up to date with the Great Parchment Book project and associated activities on Twitter using the hashtag #greatparchmentbook.

2016_06_24_ALMS_Conservation_002We’ve recently posted images of the viewing of the Great Parchment Book at the ‘Without Borders’ LGBTQ ALMS Conference (22-24 June 2016) at London Metropolitan Archives on 24 June 2016. Visitors given a behind-the-scenes tour of the LMA Conservation Studio were thrilled to see original folios from such an iconic manuscript on display especially as it had only been added to the UNESCO UK Memory of the World earlier that week (on 21 June). They were also able to chat to Great Parchment Book project conservator Rachael Smither (on the right in the photograph) who was on hand to talk about the conservation project and answer questions.

We’ve been posting to Twitter more frequently as it enables us to post snippets of information not suitable for the more extended format of the blog. It also allows us to publicise blog posts, highlight different aspects of the project, make connections with other related material and activities, and exploit events such as the UNESCO UK Memory of the World award. Overall this has had the effect of driving more traffic to the website and making the project more widely known.

 

 

GREAT PARCHMENT BOOK AWARDED UNESCO MEMORY OF THE WORLD STATUS

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We are delighted to announce  that on 21 June 2016 at the UK Memory of the World awards at the Senedd in Cardiff, the Great Parchment Book of the Honourable the Irish Society was inscribed to the UK register of the UNESCO Memory of the World.

Copyright The Welsh Government

Philippa Smith, representing London Metropolitan Archives, was presented with the award certificate by Wales First Minister Carwyn Jones who gave the keynote speech. The opening speech had been given by Gary Brace from the UK National Commission to UNESCO. Chair of the UK Memory of the World Committee Elizabeth Oxborrow Cowan also spoke about the careful and skilful management needed to preserve our documentary heritage. The Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Archives and History, Chris Skidmore MP, sent a supportive message. Finally, a special award was made to George Boston and David Dawson who established the Memory of the World programme in the UK.

091_UNESCO_CARDIFF_AWARDS-9670

Copyright The Welsh Government

 

The following Inscriptions have now been added to Memory of the World (MoW) UK Register, recognising a wide variety of remarkable historical documents from across the UK, dating from the 9th to the 19th century:

  • Archive of Charles Booth’s Inquiry into the Life and Labour of the People in London, 1886 – 1903
  • The Great Parchment Book of The Honourable The Irish Society, 1639
  • The Exeter Book, c.965 – 975
  • The Laboratory Notebooks of Michael Faraday, 1820 – 1862
  • Medieval Archive of Canterbury Cathedral
  • Survey of the Manors of Chickhowell and Tretower, 1587
  • The Correspondence Collection Robert Owen, 1821 – 1858

In addition, congratulations are also due to the Churchill Archives and the Haig Papers.  These Inscriptions have been added to the International Register, which celebrates documentary heritage of outstanding international significance.

These Inscriptions reflect the diversity of the UK’s rich documentary heritage, which is filled with stories about people, places and events.  Documentary heritage is the documented memory of humankind, and it deserves to be cherished, celebrated, preserved and, above all, shared.

Great Parchment Book UNESCO certificateThe Great Parchment Book has been recognised as a hugely significant record of the Ulster Plantation in the early 17th century, providing a unique insight into an important period of the history of Northern Ireland for which there are few other original archives surviving.

It cannot be overstated how important the Plantation of Ulster was to the history of Northern Ireland, the United Kingdom and Ireland and it still has influence today. The Great Parchment Book is central to the study of the Plantation and the social, economic, cultural, religious, and political history of Northern Ireland.

The Great Parchment Book provides a key record of the population of early 17th century Ulster at the time of the Plantation, not just the Protestant settlers who came from both England and Scotland, but also the native Irish, and exceptionally many women, at all social levels. It contains unique information about the properties and individual buildings they inhabited, as well as the extent and layout of the towns of Coleraine and Londonderry.

The Great Parchment Book has considerable significance for the people of Ulster, Northern Ireland and Ireland more generally; it is regarded as iconic by the Irish Society and the City of London.

UNESCOUNESCO established the Memory of the World (MoW) Programme in 1992. The programme vision is that the world’s documentary heritage belongs to all, should be fully preserved and protected for all and permanently accessible to all without hindrance. The UK Register (one of several country-level programmes from around the world) recognises documentary heritage deemed by a panel of experts to be of outstanding significance to the UK. The seven new inscriptions join the 50 already listed on the UK register.

The addition of the Great Parchment Book means that London Metropolitan Archives, City of London Corporation has four items inscribed to the UK Register, the other items being the Charter of William I to the City of London, London County Council Bomb Damage Maps, and Robert Hooke’s Diary, 1672-83. This is more than any other local authority archive service and demonstrates the importance of the History of London collections held by LMA which, along with the printed collections at Guildhall Library, are also Designated as Outstanding by the Arts Council England.

The Great Parchment Book by numbers

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30 May 2016 was the third anniversary of the Great Parchment Book website. To mark this, we’re taking a look at the project through numbers, from the names in the surviving folios of the book itself to the visitors to the website with some interesting facts along the way.

1 Great Parchment Book of The Honourable The Irish Society

165 folios and fragments, stored in 30 bespoke boxes (originally 16)

11 Great Twelve livery companies’ holdings recorded (should be 12, but the Merchant Taylors’ portion is missing)

1095 personal names indexed on the website including variations in spelling

992 place names indexed also including variations

49 occupations and titles recorded such as barber-surgeon, fellmonger, muster master and winecowper

120 entries in the glossary including occupations and titles, but also terms such as ballibetagh, creete, kill house, rampier, standall and vayle.

Nearly 92,700 page views of Great Parchment Book website and blog to 30 May 2016

121 blog posts including this one

270,000 visitors to Plantation, People, Perspectives exhibition in Derry Guildhall in the first year (opened 30 May 2013) when an original folio of the Great Parchment Book was on display

Almost 960,000 visitors to the exhibition to 30 May 2016 (several times the population of Derry and nearly half the population of Northern Ireland)

20 project partners including 14 funders

4 awards, 3 shortlisted/finalist, 1 highly commended

1 inscription on UK Memory of the World Register (inscribed on 21 June 2016)

All summed up as 1 unique record of the 17th century Plantation of Ulster

 

 

 

Celebrating the Great Parchment Book at the UK Blog Awards

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UKBlogAwards certificateGreat Parchment Book was pleased and proud to be part of the UK Blog Awards with all the other finalists at the Park Plaza, Westminster Bridge, London on Friday 29 April 2016.

It was a fun event taking the theme of Roald Dahl’s Big Friendly Giant in the centenary year of his birth which seemed very appropriate given the focus of the 2016 Awards on storytelling. A stilt-walking BFG strode around the event, and there were lots of bubbles, not only alcoholic! One room was decorated with life-like looking trees and scenery, and the canapés were smothered in edible flowers continuing the theme. The headline sponsor, Odeon Cinemas, even had a pop-up cinema – with popcorn of course.

UKBlogAwards montageThere was a real buzz to the event with finalists not only enjoying their own moment of glory with their supporters, but connecting with other bloggers and finding out their stories, in my case ranging from the Cottages and Castles Blog (lettings agency business) to the Living With CMPA Blog (the personal story of a mum with a son with food allergy). This interaction has continued after the event on social media and is an important part of the Awards ethos.

UKBlogAwards programmeThe event was not only fun, but also slick. The host was Kate Russell with whom you may be familiar from the BBC’s technology programme Click. An award winner last year, she was warm, enthusiastic and funny, with a lovely line in off-the-cuff remarks when things didn’t go according to plan, but also super-efficient at keeping the awards presentation ceremony on track. After brief but pertinent welcome speeches from the UK Blog Awards Founder and MD, Gemma Newton, and Andy Edge, Commercial Director and Amy Rountree, Social Media Manager and Strategist, Odeon Cinemas, the awards were presented by category, with two highly commended in each, plus the winner.

UKBlogAwards screenThe Arts and Culture category was up first so I didn’t have to long to wait. The Great Parchment Book blog didn’t win, but it was great to see it up on the big screen with the other finalists all of whom were made to feel special. As Gemma Newton wrote in the Awards programme: “All of the shortlisted candidates should be hugely proud of what they’ve achieved to reach this final stage … winning a UKBA is not easy.” I was then able to relax and enjoy the rest of the ceremony and celebrate with my neighbour, the author of the Living with CMPA Blog who won her category. The Arts and Culture category was won by the Honest Actors’ Blog. The winner of the headline award for the Best Storyteller was the Royal Mint Blog. Very well done to all the winning blogs.

The Great Parchment Book was the only archive blog in the competition and the only finalist from the heritage sector (although the Royal Mint Blog has a heritage dimension). It would be great next year to see more archive and heritage blogs getting involved in the UK Blog Awards, and making it through to the final. The Great Parchment Book did it, your blog can too! The Arts and Culture category is very wide, perhaps UK Blog Awards could encourage the heritage sector with a separate category, or at least make it Arts, Heritage and Culture?

You can find out more about the UK Blog Awards on its website and on social media especially Twitter @UKBlogAwards #ukba16; and Facebook /UKBlogAwards.

Great Parchment Book retrospective: the legacy and the future

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With the successful outcome of the Great Parchment Book project well-established and in the public eye once again, we’ve been reflecting back on the different elements which made up the project and trying to make sense of the journey.

Over the past few weeks we have looked at conservation, digital imaging, transcription and textual encoding, historical importance and synergy with other sources, outreach and public recognition. To round up, we’re going to look at legacy and the future.

Great Parchment Book foliosThe conservation, digital reconstruction and resulting transcription of the Great Parchment Book have provided a lasting resource for historians researching the Plantation of Ulster in local, national and international contexts.

A schools programmes associated with the exhibition is underway in Derry. The Great Parchment Book is also being used in undergraduate teaching at the University of Ulster and is proving to be a vital resource for postgraduate and post-doctoral research. The website and project blog are also used extensively by students of conservation and digital humanities.

After

On the digital imaging side, UCL has enabled free access to the digital reconstruction process through a stand-alone version of the software (available on the UCL project page). The open-sourcing of UCL’s platform should enable other institutions to access the acquisition and restoration process themselves. Meanwhile LMA wants to explore the possibility of developing our role as a centre of expertise for the conservation, imaging, and digital restoration of distorted parchments and other damaged material, working in tandem with UCL to maintain the trajectory we have built up working on this together.

LMA is continuing to post updates on the project on the blog making connections with other digital projects and technologies revolutionising access to archives and cultural artefacts, and exploring the synergies with other documents relevant to the story that the Great Parchment Book has to tell. Watch this space!

Great Parchment Book retrospective: public recognition

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The successful outcome of the Great Parchment Book project is now well-established and the project has been very much in the public eye. This post, in our occasional retrospective, is about public recognition.

The project was an ambitious collaborative undertaking and each element was a major piece of work in its own right and different funders were approached for each aspect of the project:

  • The Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council funded a four year Engineering Doctorate in the Virtual Environments, Imaging and Visualisation programme at University College London for the digital imaging and virtual reconstruction of the Great Parchment Book from September 2010.
  • The National Manuscripts Conservation Trust awarded a grant for conservation in 2011.
  • The Marc Fitch Foundation, the Irish Society and several of the Great Twelve City of London livery companies (Clothworkers’ Company, Drapers’ Company, Fishmongers’ Company, Goldsmiths’ Company, Ironmongers’ Company, Mercers’ Company, Merchant Taylors’ Company and Skinners’ Company) gave grants towards the transcription and textual encoding of the document and its online publication in 2012.
  • Advice and support was given by Professor James Stevens Curl, The British Library, The National Archives and The Trustees of Lambeth Palace Library.
  • Derry City Council Heritage and Museums Service, LMA and UCL also provided funding and staff time and resources.

Great Parchemtn Book public recognition and awards

The Great Parchment Book project has been nominated for a number of awards, evidence both of the importance of the document and the strength of the project.

Finally, the importance of the Great Parchment Book project has been recognised at the highest level. First Minister of Northern Ireland, the Rt Hon Peter D Robinson MLA, wrote in 2013 that “I cannot praise the work of the LMA & UCL highly enough. In completing this mammoth project they have succeeded in opening a veritable treasure trove of information relating to a most significant period in the history of Ulster; and illustrating as never before the central role played by the London Guilds in the creation and preservation of the city of Londonderry and its environs.”

President of Ireland

Also in 2013, the Lord Lieutenant of the city of Derry, Sir Donal Keegan, was shown a folio relating to the city when he was presented with the Freedom of the City of London. During his visit to the United Kingdom in 2014, the President of Ireland, Michael D Higgins, viewed a display of folios from the Great Parchment Book at a State Banquet in his honour at Guildhall.

You can find out more about awards and other project updates connected with the Great Parchment Book on the blog (go to the end of the page once you’ve clicked the link to read in chronological order).

Great Parchment Book retrospective: outreach

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The Great Parchment Book had been inaccessible to researchers for over 200 years owing to its fragile state. Our overriding objective with the project was to make the manuscript available again to as wide a range of people as possible, not just for the benefit of scholars and other researchers, but also for the communities to which it was most relevant. In our occasional series of posts looking back at the project, we turn our attention to engagement and outreach.

The original ambition was to produce a digitally reconstructed and fully accessible manuscript that could take pride of place in the exhibition in Derry Guildhall opening in June 2013 to commemorate the 400th anniversary of the building of the city walls during Derry’s year as UK City of Culture.

Overall, the project was more successful than we could have hoped. The Great Parchment Book website went live on 30 May 2013 on the eve of the opening of the Derry Guildhall exhibition; it features a blog and an embedded video. Since its launch it has attracted 87,000 page views to date and counting, and has been a great success with a whole range of people around the world including academic researchers, local and family historians, conservators and those interested in the digital humanities.

Bernadette and Edward looking at an original folio of the Great Parchment Book

The exhibition curated by Derry City Council Heritage and Museums Service entitled Plantation: People, Process, Perspectives opened in Derry’s Guildhall in June 2013. The exhibition had nearly 270,000 visitors in its first year and has had over 864,000 visitors to the end of 2015 including school groups. Such has been its popularity that it is set to continue for the foreseeable future. Visitor feedback has been very positive, including high praise for the original archive material which for the first ten months included an original folio of the Great Parchment Book and other documents from the Irish Society archives.

Great Parchment Book Day 2014

All aspects of the project have been celebrated and presented by LMA and University College London at various conferences and events including the Archives and Records Association Conference, Brighton 2012; Digital Humanities Conference, Nebraska USA 2013; Plantation Families event, Belfast/Derry, 27-28 September 2013; Opposites Attract: Science and Archives, LMA 21 March 2014; STEM from the City careers day, City of London Guildhall 27 June 2014; Great Parchment Book Day, LMA 25 July 2014; International Council on Archives annual conference, Girona, Spain 15 October 2014; University of Melbourne, Australia 31 October 2014; ARA Conservation Training Committee and Instructors, LMA 20 November 2014; Association for Historical and Fine Art Photography’s annual conferences, London 27 November 2014 and 22 October 2015.

The project has been published in a range of publications (the UCL project page has a list of the most significant and provides access to the free software produced in the course of the project) and is featured on many websites including the European History Primary Sources (EHPS) website and that of the International Council on Archives and the National Manuscripts Conservation Trust. The Great Parchment Book project has featured in an article in the Observer, 5 July 2015 on conservation technology.

It is used in teaching history at all levels especially in Northern Ireland, as well as for teaching students of conservation and digital humanities around the world.

You can find out more about events connected with the Great Parchment Book on the blog (go to the end of the page once you’ve clicked the link to read in chronological order).

Great Parchment Book retrospective: historical importance and synergy with other sources

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Continuing with the occasional series of posts reflecting on the different elements which make up the Great Parchment Book project, we now turn our attention to historical importance and synergy with other sources.

The Great Parchment Book is a hugely important record of the Ulster Plantation of the early 17th century documenting an important and formative period of the history of Britain and Ireland. It cannot be overstated how important the Plantation of Ulster was to the history of these islands and it still has resonance today.

So important was the Great Parchment Book to the Irish Society that it was rescued from the fire at Guildhall in 1786 and carefully preserved in spite of its parlous state as it provided evidence of its property, rights and legitimacy.

Thomas Raven's map of the Drapers' buildings at Monnemore (copyright Trustees of Lambeth Palace Library)Original archives and other artefacts are considerably lacking for this period of Irish history. If the Great Parchment Book did not exist, key data about landholding and population in Ulster at this time (not only the English and Scottish settlers, but also the native Irish) at this crucial period would be undiscoverable. It contains unique information about properties and individual buildings, as well as their extent and layout including that of the towns of Coleraine and Londonderry. It also contains unique and exceptional information about the population from all social backgrounds including references to women about whom there is otherwise very little.

1641 Depositions

Although unique, the information contained with the Great Parchment Book has a synergy with others sources for early modern Ulster and we have explored some of these on the Great Parchment Book website. They include Thomas Raven’s maps of Londonderry, 1622, held at Lambeth Palace Library and Drapers’ Hall, the muster rolls held by the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland, and the 1641 Depositions (witness testimonies concerning experiences of the 1641 Irish rebellion) held at Trinity College Dublin Library which are also available digitally. It is also useful to connect to other digital and published resources such as the digital atlas of Derry–Londonderry and the Irish Historic Towns Atlas, and publications of the Irish Manuscripts Commission.

You can find out more about the history of the Plantation on the website and the synergy of the Great Parchment Book with other sources for the Plantation on the blog (go to the end of the page once you’ve clicked the link to read in chronological order).

Great Parchment Book retrospective: transcription and textual encoding

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As we reflect on the different elements which made up the Great Parchment Book project in this continuing series of posts, we now turn our attention to transcription and textual encoding.

Alongside the conservation and digital imaging work, a palaeographer, Dr Patricia Stewart, was employed by London Metropolitan Archives partly funded by the Marc Fitch Fund and some of the Great Twelve City of London livery companies to prepare a readable and exploitable version of the text. The aim was to produce both a transcription of the original text as found in the Book, the ‘original transcript’, and also a modernised version, the ‘modern transcript’ with an accompanying glossary.

To enable the Great Parchment Book to be as comprehensively searchable as possible, it was decided to encode the text in XML compliant with the Textual Encoding Initiative. TEI is a set of guidelines which specify encoding methods for machine-readable texts. It is widely used by archives, libraries, museums and individual scholars to present texts for online research and preservation.

Encoding the Great Parchment Book

Patricia already had some familiarity with TEI, but had to think about how it would work in the context of the Great Parchment Book, and to think about transcription conventions and methodology. To begin with, though, she had to learn about the historical and archival context of the manuscript and its structure and arrangement. There was also a steep learning curve getting to grips with Irish personal and place names and some of the less familiar terms used. Last but not least there was the distorted text itself which in places was illegible or even missing.  Patricia was able to supply some text through her knowledge of how the manuscript was arranged and its use of formulaic text. She was also able to re-order some of the folios and identify a few of the fragments.

Transcribing the Great Parchment Book

Patricia worked with Kazim Pal, the doctoral student, to test the flattening software as it was being developed to see whether it made deciphering and transcribing the text any easier. She also was involved in the discussions with the website designers Headscape on how the transcripts and glossary would be presented on the website alongside the original and flattened images of the individual parchment folios.

This painstaking work took longer than expected and so the original six month project was extended to eight months running from September 2012 to May 2013 to enable the transcripts and glossary to be completed and uploaded to the website.

Patricia continued to be involved in the project by presenting papers at events such as the Plantation Families: People, Records and Resources event held in Belfast and Londonderry on 27–28 September 2013 and the Great Parchment Book Day at LMA on 25 July 2014.

The digitisation of the Great Parchment Book was recognised in 2014 when the project received a European Succeed Award (for digitisation focussing on textual content) Commendation of Merit.

You can find out more about the transcription and encoding of the Great Parchment Book on the blog (go to the end of the page once you’ve clicked the link to read in chronological order).

Great Parchment Book retrospective: imaging

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In our previous post in this occasional series reflecting on the different elements which make up the Great Parchment Book project we looked at conservation; now it’s the turn of digital imaging.

It had been evident for many years that traditional conservation alone would not produce sufficient results to make the Great Parchment Book accessible, although there had been at least one attempt in the past. Following discussions with conservation and imaging experts, it was decided to flatten the parchment sheets as far as possible appropriate to their fragile state to enable digital imaging with the ultimate aim of reconstructing the manuscript digitally. We knew from the first that this was an undertaking without a certain result as we were committed to exploring new techniques and technologies; nothing else had any chance of success.

A partnership with UCL established a four year Engineering Doctorate in the Virtual Environments, Imaging and Visualisation programme in September 2010 (jointly funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council and LMA) with the intention of developing software that would make the distorted text legible. The doctoral student, Kazim Pal, was supervised by Melissa Terras, Director of the UCL Centre for Digital Humanities and Professor of Digital Humanities in the Department of Information Studies at University College London and Tim Weyrich, Professor of Visual Computing in the Virtual Environments and Computer Graphics group in the Department of Computer Science, University College London and Deputy Director of the UCL Centre for Digital Humanities.

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During the digitisation phase, which in part ran alongside the conservation, a set of images was captured for each page and used to generate 3D models. Ground-breaking software was developed to allow these models to be flattened and browsed virtually.

digitally flattened parchmentKazim’s work was more successful than we could have hoped with the digitally flattened images of the folios featuring on the dedicated Great Parchment Book website alongside a transcript making the Great Parchment Book available for consultation by researchers once more.

The digitisation of the Great Parchment Book was recognised in 2014 when the project received a European Succeed Award (for digitisation focussing on textual content) Commendation of Merit.

You can explore the digital imaging of the Great Parchment Book in detail on the blog (go to the end of the page once you’ve clicked the link to read in chronological order).

See also the UCL project web page which includes access to the free software produced in the course of the project and the amazing video of the flattening software in action.

We also continue to highlight other developments which are revolutionising access to archives through the use of new technology and innovation on the blog.

Great Parchment Book retrospective: conservation

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Now with the successful outcome of the Great Parchment Book project well-established and in the public eye once again, it seems a good time to reflect back on the different elements which made up the project and try to make sense of the journey.

We start with conservation, the essential first phase of the project prior to the digital imaging, for which funding was obtained from the National Manuscripts Conservation Trust. The six month project ran from April to September 2012. Conservator Rachael Smither, was appointed to carry out the work, supervised by Dr Caroline De Stefani the London Metropolitan Archives Conservation Studio Manager.

Great Parchment Book folio

The conservation treatment of such a degraded and fragile manuscript was challenging and a considerable amount of research and a number of treatment trials had to happen before any work on the folios of the Great Parchment Book could take place.

One trial which really caught the imagination was when Rachael took a replica parchment book home to cook in the oven to see what the effect would be (it was very smelly!) She also discovered that an earlier attempt had been made to flatten some of the folios which had led to some perfectly flat sheets, but increased instability of the original material.Conservation in action 

It was decided therefore that only minimal treatment would be undertaken to make the digital imaging possible where folds and creases were obscuring the text. Instead of flattening, the folds and creases were gently pushed out with the result that the so-called poppadum book retained its familiar physical characteristics. A bespoke packaging solution was devised to support and protect the folios in the future.

Improved storage

 

The conservation of the Great Parchment Book was recognised in 2015 when the project was short-listed for the Pilgrim Trust Award for Conservation.

 

You can explore the conservation of the Great Parchment Book on the blog in detail (go to the end of the page once you’ve clicked the link to read in chronological order).

You can also see the conservation treatment in action on the Great Parchment Book project video.

Great Parchment Book retrospective

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When we embarked on the Great Parchment Book project, we were very uncertain that we would be able to achieve our aim: a digitally reconstructed and fully accessible manuscript that could take pride of place in the exhibition in Derry Guildhall opening in June 2013 to commemorate the 400th anniversary of the building of the city walls.

Great Parchment Book partners

The project was an ambitious collaborative undertaking committed to exploring new techniques and technologies; nothing else had any chance of success. Each element was a major piece of work in its own right and different partners and funders were approached for each aspect of the project.

Now with the successful outcome well-established and the project in the public eye once again, it seems a good time to reflect on the different elements which made up the project and look back on the journey.

Over the next few weeks watch out for posts about –

  • Conservation
  • Digital humanities: imaging, transcription and textual encoding
  • The history of the Plantation and synergy with other original sources
  • Public engagement and recognition
  • The legacy and the future

And to help you get your bearings here is the Great Parchment Book project timeline –

  • Initial discussions between LMA, University College London and other potential partners, March/April 2010
  • Imaging – Four year EngD at UCL, September 2010-September 2014 (first year taught so project got underway in September 2011)
  • Conservation, April-September 2012
  • Transcription and encoding, September 2012-May 2013
  • Great Parchment Book website launch, 30 May 2013
  • Derry Guildhall exhibition opened, 10 June 2013
  • Public engagement, recognition and future developments – ongoing

At Sixes & Sevens in LMA

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A copy of the published score of At Sixes & Sevens written by Northern Irish poet Paul Muldoon and composer Mark-Anthony Turnage has today been deposited in London Metropolitan Archives and placed with the archives of the Honourable the Irish Society.

The new choral work At Sixes & Sevens was commissioned by the Irish Society and the City of London Corporation as a gift to mark their long association and the 400th anniversary of the Honourable the Irish Society, and to celebrate Derry as 2013 UK City of Culture.

During his research for the cantata, Paul Muldoon visited LMA to explore the archives of The Honourable The Irish Society, and to see the Great Parchment Book.

The world première of the cantata At Sixes & Sevens for soprano and baritone soloists, youth choir, chorus and orchestra was performed simultaneously in the two Guildhalls of London and Derry~Londonderry on 3 July 2013.

Paul Muldoon

On 17 March (St. Patrick’s Day) 2014, Paul Muldoon received the Freedom of the City of London at Guildhall in recognition of his outstanding contribution to poetry.

The score of At Sixes & Sevens is published by Boosey and Hawkes and the deposited copy is available for general access at LMA under reference CLA/049/RD/02/044.

Great Parchment Book is UK Blog Awards finalist!

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Thanks to your votes, the Great Parchment Book blog has made it to the final of the UK Blog Awards 2016. A tremendous achievement which took us all by surprise: we are absolutely delighted.

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As you can see from the shortlist for the Arts and Culture category, we are up against some stiff (and very diverse) competition, but it’s up to the judges now who have a tough job ahead of them. Judging begins on Monday 1 February and will be carried out remotely until 19 February 2016.

We are invited to connect with the judges across social media during the process. You can find out more about our judges here if you’d like to participate. You can also follow the competition on Twitter @UKBlogAwards #UKBA16.

The winner will be announced at a dazzling awards ceremony at the Park Plaza Hotel, Westminster, London on Friday 29 April 2016.

Once again, very many thanks for your support. We’ll of course let you know how we get on.

 

The pleasures and pitfalls of writing a blog

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The importance of recording the progress of the Great Parchment Book project through a blog was identified right at the start of the discussions about the project  and it has been a key means to publicise and ensure the legacy of the project.

LMA Conservation Studio Manager Caroline De Stefani and project lead Philippa Smith are delighted to have been invited to write about the pleasures and pitfalls of writing a blog for a fellow blog published by Cilip (The Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals).

The recently published post includes our tips for writing a successful blog and looks at the lessons we have learned along the way.

You can read the Cilip blog post – The pleasures and pitfalls of writing a conservation project blog – here.

Last day to vote for the Great Parchment Book blog!

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There’s only a day left to vote for the Great Parchment Book Blog in the Arts and Culture category of the UK Blog Awards 2016.

If you haven’t voted already, it would be really great if you would show your support for the Great Parchment Book project by voting as this will enable the blog to progress to the final of the awards.

Voting is closes at 9pm today (Monday 25 January 2016), so please don’t delay, make sure you vote for the Great Parchment Book blog now!

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Only a week left to vote for the Great Parchment Book blog!

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ukba16 votenow

There’s only a week left to vote for the Great Parchment Book Blog in the Arts and Culture category of the UK Blog Awards 2016.

If you haven’t voted already, it would be really great if you would show your support for the Great Parchment Book project by voting as this will enable the blog to progress to the final of the awards.

Voting is open until Monday 25 January 2016 at 9pm, but please don’t delay, make sure you vote for the Great Parchment Book blog today!

UK Blog Awards – vote now!

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We are pleased to announce that the Great Parchment Book Blog has been nominated in the Arts and Culture category of the UK Blog Awards 2016.

The Public Vote opened today and it would be really great if you would show your support for the Great Parchment Book project and the blog by voting to enable us to progress in the awards.

Voting is open until Monday 25 January 2016 at 9pm, but don’t delay and vote for the Great Parchment Book blog now!

ukba16 votenow

Why vote for us?

The blog puts the Great Parchment Book in its rightful place at the heart of the study of the history of the 17th century Plantation of Ulster and links it directly to other sources, current academic scholarship and other research. It aims to foster interest in the cutting edge technologies which are already revolutionising access to archives and manuscripts, to inform and educate about conservation and the role of digital imaging, and to contribute to developments in the digital humanities. Primarily it makes it accessible whoever and wherever you are.

Vote for the Great Parchment Book blog now!

 

Conservation of Great Parchment Book – update on Pilgrim Trust Award

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Back in July London Metropolitan Archives was very pleased and excited to learn that Conservation of The Great Parchment Book had been shortlisted for the prestigious The Pilgrim Trust Award for Conservation 2015. The award recognises excellence in conserving an individual or collection of cultural heritage objects in the UK and the project was one of only four shortlisted, so a great achievement in itself.

Along with the representatives of the other three shortlisted projects, LMA Conservation Studio Manager Caroline De Stefani attended the VIP awards ceremony on 22 October 2015 at the Institution of Mechanical Engineers in the heart of Westminster, London. She was accompanied by Graham Packham, Deputy Chairman of the Culture, Heritage and Libraries Committee of the City of London Corporation.

We were competing with very high profile projects and unfortunately we did not win. Still, it was a great achievement to have been shortlisted and we are so proud of the Great Parchment Book project. Our congratulations go both to Caroline and to Rachael Smither who worked as project conservator, for their achievement.

Thanks also to all those who have worked with us on the project, but especially Dr Tim Weyrich from our UCL partners who supported us at the judging panel.

The Icon Conservation Awards recognise the highest standards of conservation, research and collections care within the UK art and heritage sectors. More information about the ICON Conservation Awards is available on the ICON Conservation Awards website.

 

ICON awards Pilgrim Trust

Great Parchment Book website hits 80,000 page views

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Last week the Great Parchment Book website passed another landmark with more than 80,000 page views since it was launched on 30 May 2013.

In addition, the Derry Guildhall exhibition – Plantation: Process, people, perspectives – which displayed an original folio of the Great Parchment Book for the first 10 months, has had 725,261 visitors from its opening in June 2013 to date, including 203,348 so far this year.

The exhibition provides an interactive insight into the decisions and events of early 17th century, showcasing original maps, drawings and museum objects on loan from other institutions and using personalities to explore that period of history to provide an understanding of the conflicts of the past. The exhibition is open in the Guildhall daily from 10am-5.30pm including Saturdays and Sunday. Entrance to the Guildhall building and exhibition is free of charge.

We are really pleased that the Great Parchment Book has been seen by so many both as an original folio in Derry, and remotely through the website, and that the story of the Plantation is continuing to be appreciated by visitors to the exhibition.

Great Parchment Book shortlisted for prestigious conservation award

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It is with great pleasure we announce that Conservation of The Great Parchment Book has been shortlisted for The Pilgrim Trust Award for Conservation 2015. The award recognises excellence in conserving an individual or collection of cultural heritage objects in the UK.

Pilgrim Trust

Four shortlisted projects, including the Great Parchment Book, are now in with a chance to win a coveted prize fund, trophy and attend the VIP awards ceremony in October at the Institution of Mechanical Engineers.

The Icon Conservation Awards recognise the highest standards of conservation, research and collections care within the UK art and heritage sectors. The Great Parchment Book project is in good company as some of the highest-profile conservation projects in the world have been short listed.

Icon Chief Executive Alison Richmond said “The screening panels had a hugely difficult task putting the shortlists together from a strong group of applications but we have a final list that reflects the diversity of the many wonderful conservation projects being undertaken by skilled professional conservators and dedicated volunteers throughout the UK.”

ICON awardsMore information about the ICON Conservation Awards is available on the ICON Conservation Awards website. You can keep up to date with news on Twitter using the hashtag #IconAwards15.

Great Parchment Book project in The Observer

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The Great Parchment Book project has featured in an article in The Observer, 5 July 2015 on conservation technology.

The Observer interviewed project lead Philippa Smith and conservation project supervisor Caroline De Stefani at LMA, and Professor Melissa Terras, co-supervisor with Dr Tim Weyrich, of the Great Parchment Book project at UCL.

The project is the meat in the sandwich between discussion of the British Library’s work on preserving old newspapers and project partner UCL’s research into multispectral imaging.

LMA is continuing to work with the Centre for Digital Humanities at UCL and also with the British Library through a SEAHA fully-funded studentship on the Multispectral Imaging of Documentary Material as reported in an earlier Blog post.

We’ll be updating this Blog with news of the SEAHA Multispectral Imaging project in due course, but watch this space for some exciting news about the Great Parchment Book project coming soon!

 

Plantation exhibition news

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A rare book, ‘Pacata Hibernia, Ireland Appeased and Reduced Or, An Historie of the Late Warres of Ireland’, is to go on display as part of the Guildhall Plantation Exhibition, from April 2015.

The Plantation Exhibition, currently located within Derry Guildhall, allows for changing exhibits and Derry City Council’s Museum and Visitor Services is delighted be able to showcase this hugely interesting rare book to a wide audience.

Bernadette Walsh, archivist, explains: “This publication is extremely rare and is illustrated with eighteen engravings of seventeenth century Ireland, detailing the final years of the Elizabethan Wars in Ireland and contains a long list of the Irish Nobility who fled to Spain in 1607, after the defeat of the Earls in 1601. The publication contains the background history to the Flight of the Earls, and the inevitable lead up to the Ulster Plantation and will be a welcome addition to the hugely successful Plantation exhibition, that has been visited by thousands of people since its installment as part of a multi-million pound regeneration of the Guildhall. ”

Minolta DSC     Minolta DSC

‘Pacata Hibernia’ was originally published in London in 1633 for Robert Milbourne. It is believed to be almost entirely composed by Lieutenant Thomas Stafford, who served under Sir George Carew. The very detailed maps and plans show the battle layout, military formation, horsemanship and fortifications of the times. These items will add interest to the exhibition showing further images of cartography which played a strong role in developments of the seventeenth century.

“It is important the archive collection reflects this period of history; original artefacts and archives are considerably lacking not only in our own collections, but also within collections across the island. This rare item was purchased and will now form part of our successful Plantation exhibition at the Guildhall.”

Great Parchment Book website viewed more than 65,000 times

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This week the Great Parchment Book website passed another landmark with more than 65,000 page views since it was launched on 30 May 2013.

In addition, the Derry Guildhall exhibition – Plantation: Process, people, perspectives – which displayed an original folio of the Great Parchment Book for the first 10 months, has had 525,146 visitors from its opening in June 2013 until the end of October 2014. A new object from the Hunt Museum Limerick went on display recently  for a six month loan – a rather beautiful seal in gold with emeralds, diamonds and rubies, regarded as the personal seal of King Charles I.  It is engraved with the letters CR (Carolus Rex) flanking a royal crown, and dates from the early 17th century.

Charles I seal

We are really pleased that the Great Parchment Book has been seen and appreciated by so many both as an original folio in Derry, and remotely through the website.

 

 

 

Spreading the word

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UCLLMA’s partners at UCL have set up a web page dedicated to the Great Parchment Book project that serves to disseminate academic publications and related presentations and reports resulting from the project, as well as the free software developed in the course of the project. Keep an eye on the page for news about publication, and for updates on the software.

It’s good to get feedback!

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It’s great to get feedback from people who have used the Great Parchment Book website. We are always keen to hear the results of your research or what you think about the website. You can email us by clicking on the Get in touch tab at the foot of every page.

Gordon Cox emailed to express his delight at the results he had got from searching the People index:

“I sat amazed as I looked at the search results for my surname in my home town in the digitized GPB. I cannot tell you how grateful I am that the Irish Society has contributed to this project, and that the LMA and others have worked so hard to bring it to fruition. I am sure that this will prove to be one of the most important local history projects of recent times. It is certainly very significant for the history of Ulster, and the LMA has placed every Ulster man and woman in their debt. Thank you.”

More images from the Great Parchment Book Day

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The day started with presentations about the context of the Great Parchment Book project, and the three key elements – conservation, transcription and textual encoding, and digital imaging :

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During the afternoon there were opportunities to see a range of damaged documents and discuss digital approaches to making them accessible:

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And see demonstrations of the digital flattening software and even try it out for yourself:

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The day ended with a Panel session (left to right: Professor Melissa Terras, UCL – Chair, David Howell, Bodleian Library, Emma Stewart, LMA, and Dr Tim Weyrich, UCL):

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Great Parchment Book Day

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Thank you to everyone who made Great Parchment Book day on Friday (25 July) such a great success and a thoroughly enjoyable and thought-provoking event. We will be posting more images soon, but in the meantime you can see some images and comment on Twitter at #greatparchmentbook.

Original folios from the Great Parchment Book were also displayed at the City of London Corporation Court of Common Council on Thursday 24 July alongside Hooke’s Diary which is also held by LMA. Both documents were there as award winners, the Great Parchment Book project having received a 2014 European Succeed Award, and the Hooke Diary having been added to the UNESCO UK Memory of the World Register in June.

 

Programme announced for Great Parchment Book Day

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LMA is holding a Great Parchment Book Day at LMA on Friday 25 July 2014. The morning will focus on the Great Parchment Book story; the afternoon will look to the future and explore accessing historical documents through innovative technologies.

PROGRAMME

MORNING: CONTEXT

10.00am Registration, coffee and housekeeping

10.15am Welcome (Deputy Catherine McGuinness)

10.20am Introduction to LMA, collections overview, where the Great Parchment Book sits within those collections, why it became the focus for the project and why it mattered (Philippa Smith)

11.00am  TEA/COFFEE

11.15pm Accessing History through Innovative Technologies:
The Great Parchment Book Project Story
Conservation (Dr Caroline De Stefani)
Transcription/textual encoding (Dr Patricia Stewart)
Digital flattening (Kazim Pal)
Q&A

13.00pm LUNCHTIME

AFTERNOON: EXPLORING NEW TECHNOLOGICAL APPLICATIONS IN CREATING ACCESS TO HISTORICAL DOCUMENTS

14.00pm Welcome and introduction – impact, outcomes and wider context (Dr Tim Weyrich)

14.30pm Display of damaged original materials including Great Parchment Book and LMA Rogues Gallery; demonstration of digital flattening software; opportunity to discuss further possible applications of flattening software and other techniques being researched on LMA material; demonstration of textual encoding (Dr Caroline De Stefani, Marie Poirot, Dr Tim Weyrich, Kazim Pal, Dr Helen Graham-Matheson, Dr Patricia Stewart)

15.15pm TEA/COFFEE

15.30pm HISTORY FUTURES PANEL (Professor Melissa Terras – UCL, Chair, Dr Tim Weyrich – UCL, Emma Stewart – LMA, David Howell – Bodleian Library)
 
How new technologies can and may impact on challenging materials, access and availability, preservation issues – how can we take projects forward? HLF partner bid proposal, Q&A and expressions of interest

16.30pm  CLOSE

The event is already full, but if you would like to be added to the waiting list, please go to http://the-great-parchment-book.eventbrite.co.uk.

Great Parchment Book website viewed more than 50,000 times

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This week the Great Parchment Book website passed the landmark of 50,000 page views since it was launched on 30 May 2013.

In addition, the Derry Guildhall exhibition – Plantation: Process, people, perspectives – which until recently displayed an original folio of the Great Parchment Book, has had 323,033 visitors from its opening in June 2013 until the end of March 2014.

We are really pleased that the Great Parchment Book has been seen and appreciated by so many both as an original folio in Derry, and remotely through the website. There will be a further chance to see the real thing at the Great Parchment Book Day at LMA on 25 July 2014 so book your place now at http://the-great-parchment-book.eventbrite.co.uk.

Booking opens for Great Parchment Book Day on 25 July 2014

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LMA is holding a FREE Great Parchment Book Day on Friday 25 July 2014. The morning will focus on the Great Parchment Book story; the afternoon will look to the future and explore accessing historical documents through innovative technologies. A more detailed programme will be posted as soon as it is available.

In the meantime, you can book your place at http://the-great-parchment-book.eventbrite.co.uk.

GREAT PARCHMENT BOOK DAY

Friday 25 July 2014

London Metropolitan Archives

9.30 am – 4.30 pm

FREE, booking is essential; tea and coffee available, but bring a picnic for lunch.

Great Parchment Book project receives Succeed Award Commendation of Merit

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LMA and UCL are pleased to announce that the Great Parchment Book project has received a European Succeed Award Commendation of Merit. The winners were selected from 19 nominations world-wide and, due to the high quality of the project, the Board decided to distinguish it with one of two Commendations of Merit.

Succeed is funded by the European Union. It promotes the take up and validation of research results in mass digitisation, with a focus on textual content.

You can find further information about the awards by clicking on  http://succeed-project.eu/succeed-awards and http://succeed-project.eu/succeed-awards/awards-2014.

The project represents a major partnership of international significance between a number of institutions. LMA and UCL gratefully acknowledge the support of the following:

Clothworkers’ Company; Derry City Council Heritage and Museums Service; Drapers’ Company;  ETH Zurich; Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council; Fishmongers’ Company; Goldsmiths’ Company; The Honourable The Irish Society; Ironmongers’ Company; Marc Fitch Fund; Mercers’ Company; Merchant Taylors’ Company; National Manuscripts Conservation Trust; Skinners’ Company; The British Library; The National Archives; The Trustees of Lambeth Palace Library.

Great Parchment Book added to EHPS

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The Great Parchment Book has been added to the European History Primary Sources (EHPS) website.

The purpose of EHPS is to provide an easily searchable index of scholarly digital repositories that contain primary sources for the history of Europe.

EHPS is a joint initiative of the Library and the Department of History and Civilization of the European University Institute in Florence, Italy. It is also part of the WWW Virtual Library History Central Catalogue that is hosted at the EUI.

EHPS asks users to rate the sources to which it provides access, so please visit the site and rate the Great Parchment Book!

Save the date!

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Planning is underway for a Great Parchment Book Day at London Metropolitan Archives on Friday 25 July 2014. The morning will focus on the Great Parchment Book story; the afternoon will look to the future and explore accessing historical documents through innovative technologies.

Save the date now! A more detailed programme and details on how to book will be posted as soon as they are available.

The wow factor!

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Our colleagues at UCL, Kazim Pal and Tim Weyrich, in collaboration with Olga Sorkine-Hornung’s group at ETH Zurich, have put together this video to present the ground-breaking interactive method they have developed to digitally restore severely damaged historical parchments based on their work on the Great Parchment Book. The response of those here at LMA was “Wow!” both when we first watched the video and on subsequent viewings.

You can see the amazing results of the method when applied to the Great Parchment Book in the sample of new and improved enhanced images we have uploaded for folios A1r, B18r, H4r, K3r, N2r, N3r and Q1r. Here are the images for K3r as an example with the original image on the left and new, improved flattened image on the right.

 K3r originalk3r flattened

It will take us some time to digitally flatten and upload all the improved images using the method developed by UCL: we’ll keep you posted about progress.

If you want to know more about how they did it, Kazim Pal, Christian Schüller, Daniele Panozzo, Olga Sorkine-Hornung and Tim Weyrich have published the method in an academic paper entitiled “Content-Aware Surface Parameterization for Interactive Restoration of Historical Documents” which will appear in Computer Graphics Forum (Proc. Eurographics), 33(2), 9 pages, 2014.

 Wow!

The challenge of displaying the Great Parchment Book

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Conservator Caroline De Stefani writes: Mounting and displaying the folio of the Great Parchment Book for the exhibition in Derry Guildhall presented some challenges due to its condition. Owing to the severe fire and water damage it was very difficult to find a suitable, stable and secure display method for such distorted, rigid and yet fragile material.

Display of GPB in Derry Nov 2013

The least invasive, but firm way to mount the folio was on a Perspex® sheet with v-shaped Melinex® tabs. These tabs gently secure the folio on the Perspex® surface greatly reducing the movement of the folio during the opening and closing of the drawer in which the folio is displayed. One side of the Melinex® has double sided tape which allows firm adhesion of the v-shaped Melinex® to the Perspex®. This method avoids using adhesive directly on the document.

For all the other LMA items on display, mainly volumes, we produced our in-house book supports which were assembled on site. The volumes were then strapped on the supports by means of inert polyester strips.

During installation, the environmental conditions (such as light level, temperature and relative humidity) in the gallery were checked and adjusted to meet the best conditions for the items. For the entire duration of the exhibition we are in contact with the curator who is providing us with regular updates on the physical condition of the documents and the environmental conditions in the exhibition area.

Plantation exhibition reopens refreshed

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The Derry Guildhall exhibition – Plantation: Process, people, perspectives – has reopened to the public with a number of new installations, including items from London Metropolitan Archives, the archives of the Honourable the Irish Society, and the Derry City Council archive collection. Edward Montgomery, Secretary of The Honourable the Irish Society visited on Thursday 5 December to look at the refreshed display with Bernadette Walsh, Derry City Council archivist: 

Bernadette and Edward with an original folio of the Great Parchment Book

Bernadette and Edward with an original folio of the Great Parchment Book.

Studying a 17th century map from the Derry City Council archives

Studying a 17th century map from the Derry City Council archives.

Looking at items from the archives of the Honourable the Irish Society: documents relating to surveyor Sir Thomas Phillips, one of the earliest leases relating to Lough Foyle and fishing rights, and a survey of the city from the early 19th century

Looking at items from the archives of the Honourable the Irish Society: documents relating to surveyor Sir Thomas Phillips, one of the earliest leases relating to Lough Foyle and fishing rights, and a survey of the city from the early 19th century.

News from Derry about the Plantation exhibition

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Bernadette Walsh writes: As the city of Derry continues to celebrate the City of Culture award, after a hectic few days of ‘Lumiere’ and the announcement of the Turner Prize winner, the Guildhall is preparing for a new installation of archives for the Plantation exhibition.
 
I’ve continued working with colleagues in London Metropolitan Archives selecting and preparing items for display.  The previous loans which were installed in June will return to London this week and will be replaced with items selected from the Irish Society collection and items from the Derry City Council archive collection.
 
To date the exhibition has received thousands of visitors, with local people, visitors to the city, schools and community groups visiting the Guildhall to learn a little bit more about this very historic city.
 
The newly selected archives going on display include a 17th century map, documents relating to surveyor Sir Thomas Phillips, one of the earliest leases relating to Lough Foyle and fishing rights and a survey of the city from the early 19th century, plus a further page from the Great Parchment Book.  Keep checking out the blog for further updates this week!

Spot the difference!

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We have now finished uploading on to the website all the original images of the Great Parchment Book folios, and enhanced images for at least two thirds of the folios.

The original images are of the folios in their original state before the conservation treatments were carried out. The enhanced images show the folios after both the conservation treatment which was carried out to facilitate the imaging process, and the advanced imaging work carried out by UCL.

Can you spot the difference between an original folio and an enhanced folio? The enhanced folio often looks very different owing to the way the imaging process has flattened the folios to reveal the text. Read more about the imaging process under Project history.

h6r

h6r original image

h6r

h6r Enhanced image

 

From the First Minister of Northern Ireland, the Rt Hon Peter D Robinson MLA

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“I cannot praise the work of the LMA & UCL highly enough.  In completing this mammoth project they have succeeded in opening a veritable treasure trove of information relating to a most significant period in the history of Ulster; and illustrating as never before the central role played by the London Guilds in the creation and preservation of the city of Londonderry and its environs.”

Complete transcription now available

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The original and modern transcriptions of all the folios are now up on the Great Parchment Book website.

We still have a few fragments to decide what to do with, and one page to insert, but essentially, it’s all there now.

If you need help to explore, there is a guide to Finding your way around the book. To get the most out of the text, go to Transcription Methodology and Conventions to see how the transcriptions work.

You will find useful background information in the Ulster PlantationProject History and Book History pages, as well as in previous Blog posts. To access relevant posts, go to the list of Categories on the right hand side of the Blog page and choose the area you are interested in.

The images accompanying the transcriptions will follow. We will let you know when they are available.

Irish Society visit exhibition

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There were over 1100 visitors to Derry Guildhall exhibition Plantation: Process, people, perspectives on its opening day, Monday 10 June, including members of the Irish Society Advisory Committee. Bernadette Walsh says that the feedback received so far has been very supportive and encouraging. She has sent some photographs of the Irish Society visit which you can see here.

©/Lorcan Doherty Photography June 10th 2013.

Irish Society visit to Derry Guildhall

©/Lorcan Doherty Photography June 10th 2013. Mandatory Credit Lorcan Doherty

Bernadette Walsh showing the original folio of the Great Parchment Book in the exhibition to the Mayor of Derry and a Governor of the Irish Society.

 

Derry Guildhall exhibition opens today (10 June)

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Bernadette Walsh keeps us up to date with developments at Derry Guildhall: The Guildhall exhibition – Plantation: Process, people, perspectives – opens to the public on Monday 10 June at 10am.  It’s a very exciting time for all the staff involved in researching, developing and installing the exhibition.  We have a range of archives and objects installed, from original maps to Sir Cahir O’Doherty swords, and the star of the show – a page of the Great Parchment Book. We have monitored the environment, checked the audio-visuals and hung the dressing up clothes and we are ready for the visitors… we hope!
 
Coincidentally, we have a visit by the Irish Society to the Guildhall on Monday, so current members will be one of the first to see the archives on display on loan from London Metropolitan Archives.
 
It’s been a long road: I believe we began talking about an exhibition in 2007, as we were commemorating the Flight of the Earls. Good luck to everyone!

THE GREAT PARCHMENT BOOK WEBSITE HAS GONE LIVE!

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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.