Ghostly Faces and Invisible Verse Found in Medieval Marginalia

Black Book of CarmarthenGhostly faces and lines of verse previously invisible to the naked eye have been uncovered in the oldest surviving medieval manuscript written entirely in Welsh.

“The Black Book of Carmarthen,” dating to 1250, contains texts from the ninth through 12th centuries, including some of the earliest references to Arthur and Merlin.

“It’s easy to think we know all we can know about a manuscript like the ‘Black Book,’ but to see these ghosts from the past brought back to life in front of our eyes has been incredibly exciting,” Myriah Williams, a doctoral student at the University of Cambridge, said in a statement. “The drawings and verse that we’re in the process of recovering demonstrate the value of giving these books another look.”

In 1904, Sir John Williams, the founder of the National Library of Wales, bought the book, which measures 6.7 by 5 inches (17 by 12.5 centimeters). Only recently did Myriah Williams and Paul Russell, a professor at Cambridge’s department of Anglo-Saxon, Norse and Celtic (ASNC), examine the pages of the book.

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