Reading, Writing, Building: the Old English Illustrated Hexateuch

Thumbnail Image
If you need an accessible version of this item, please email your request to so that they may create one and provide it to you.
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
Dot Porter
In recent years there has been a growth amongst humanities scholars in the interest in the materiality of objects including manuscripts, printed books, and inscribed stones, as they relate to the text inscribed upon them and contained within them. This interest has shown itself in the digital humanities as well, as scholars explore how computers might be made to express the physical in the digital. This may take many forms, including 2D images, 3D images or scans, or textual descriptions of objects. This presentation will explore how digital elements describing, expressing, or representing different aspects of a single physical object might be used to study the creation of that object. The focus will be on a manuscript commonly known as the Old English Illustrated Hexateuch (BL Cotton Claudius B.iv.), an Old English translation of the first six books of the Old Testament that includes over 400 color illustrations. In his recent book The Illustrated Old English Hexateuch, Cotton Claudius B.iv: The Frontier of Seeing and Reading in AngloSaxon England (British Library Press, 2007), Benjamin Withers describes a theory for how the relationship between the images and text prescribed both the layout of the content and the physical construction of the entire manuscript. How might Withers' theory be expressed, visualized, or tested in a digital environment? This paper is intended to be the start of a conversation, rather than the answer to a very complex and wide‐ranging question.
Videos from the Center for Visualization and Virtual Environments, University of Kentucky (
digital humanities, medieval studies, text encoding
Dot Porter, “Reading, Writing, Building: the Old English Illustrated Hexateuch,” paper presented at the Royal Irish Academy for the Culture and Technology European Seminar Series, 26 January 2009.
Creative Commons, Attribution Share-Alike