The book that emerged from a bog after 1200 years
This is the remarkable story of a medieval book that spent 1200 years in the mud. Around 800 someone had a Book of Psalms made, a portable copy fitted with a leather satchel. The book consisted of sixty sheets of parchment that were carefully filled with handwritten words. Somehow the book ended up in a remote bog at Faddan More in north Tipperary, close to the town of Birr, Ireland. Dropped, perhaps, by the owner? Was he walking and reading at the same time? Did he himself also end up in the bog?
Fast-forward to 2006. Eddie Fogarty, the operator of a turf digger, noticed an object with faint lettering in the bucket of his machine (pic 1). There it was again, our Book of Psalms! At this point it resembled something from an Aliens movie (pic 2), but that changed quickly after it went to the restoration lab. Thanks to the conservation properties of turf, many pages were still intact, as was its leather satchel (pic 3), the only surviving specimen from this early period. Remarkably, among the damaged pages were some that had let go of the words: kept together merely by ink, the words were floating around by themselves – like some sort of medieval Scrabble (pic 4). It’s the most remarkable bookish survival story I know.
More on this phenomenal find in this news article and this one. Here is the bog and the machine that dug up the book More on the restoration process here. More about the papyrus found in the binding here. This is a nice movie on the book.