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University of Exeter to create app showcasing Anglo-Saxon manuscripts

The world’s largest collection of Anglo-Saxon poetry may soon be available on a smart device App, as part of a project initiated by the University of Exeter. The App is now being developed with the goal being to teach younger students about medieval manuscripts and the history of the book.

The initial stage will be based around Exeter Cathedral’s famous Exeter Book (10th century) which features the Exeter Riddles, a collection of 96 literary mysteries. The University of Exeter’s Modern Languages department is working in collaboration with Antenna International to create the App which will reveal the secrets of medieval literature to a new audience. The research into the prototype model was initially funded by Research & Enterprise in Arts & Creative Technology (REACT) and Higher Education Innovation Funding (HEIF).


Dr Emma Cayley, Head of Modern Languages & Senior Lecturer in French at the University of Exeter, is excited at the prospect of creating a way to share the richness of medieval literature. Dr Cayley said: “It’s a way of getting pupils to engage with Devon’s neglected written and cultural heritage. In the normal course of their curriculum, pupils never usually get a chance to study any medieval literature, and would not have any contact with the original books that contained these stories. Through the App they will gain a new appreciation by going on a journey into the past to discover the history of the places the manuscripts come from and the people and communities that made and owned these incredible and beautiful objects. They will be able to engage directly with images and stories from the manuscripts themselves.”

The Exeter Manuscripts Project held three study workshops in local schools, in order to introduce young people to the history of the manuscript book, and discuss the design of the App. Dr Emma Cayley led the workshops with Sara Hurley, Story Worker and Community Artist, and Cara Patterson, Visual Artist and Illustrator. Pupils from Isca College, St. Sidwell’s C. E. Primary, and Exeter College helped to design the App, and fed into its development, becoming co-creators as well as detectives tracing their local heritage.


Kelda Richards, a teacher from Isca said: “Our pupils had a fantastic day working on the project. It brought medieval manuscripts to life for them and they were excited by the prospect of being able to interact with the ‘real thing’ via an App. Literature of this age is not normally freely accessible to school children but the intrigue of the Exeter Riddles and beauty of the artwork is engaging.

“The pupils were excited to be asked for their views on what they would like to see in an App and came up with a host of ideas including unlocking levels, putting manuscripts back together like a jigsaw and creating their own pieces of medieval writing.”

See also this video report from ITV.

Source: University of Exeter