30 Aug 2012

The Great Parchment Book: conserve, digitally reconstruct, transcribe, and publish the manuscript

This is a fascinating project  to conserve, digitally reconstruct, transcribe, and publish the manuscript known as the Great Parchment Book led by London Metropolitan Archives, with contributions from Derry City Councils Heritage and Museum Service, and University College London (UCL EngD VEIV Centre in collaboration with UCLDH).

The website describes the manuscript as follows:

"The Great Parchment Book consists of 165 separate parchment pages, all of which suffered damage in the fire in 1786. Due to its fragile state, it has not been accessible to readers since this date. The uneven shrinkage and distortion caused by fire has rendered much of the text illegible. The surviving 165 folios (including fragments and unidentified folios) are stored in 19 boxes, loosely tied into bundles drawing together as far as possible the passages dealing with the particular lands of different livery companies and of the Society. Much of the text is still visible (if distorted) and requires flattening and digital imaging to improve legibility and to enable digital access to the volume."
The blog includes posts with images of treatment trials to try to restore the manuscript to improve its readability for scholars. The treatment trials involve using physical treatments such as magnets and pegs to flatten out creases as well as ways to “virtually restore” the book using a mix of imaging, computer vision, and computer graphics techniques. It really is an excellent and innovative project to read about. 

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