The Exeter Manuscripts app.

A new app brings to life tenth century Exeter Book for Devon children

A ground-breaking new app will unlock the secrets of a unique tenth century manuscript for schoolchildren. Medieval manuscripts are normally accessible only to scholars as they are so fragile, but an app designed for an iPad will bring them to life for a whole new generation.

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

Unlike in a library, where books are freely accessible, people rarely see these manuscripts as they have to be kept in secure storage. This is partly due to their fragility and high value. The extensive damage to the Exeter Book with its missing pages, glue stains, and partially burnt sections illustrates just how miraculous its survival is. The Exeter Manuscripts project aims to reverse the historic invisibility of these amazing old books, and help Devon to rediscover its written heritage. The app has been developed only for iPads so far but it is hoped to expand it across other platforms.

Dr Emma Cayley from the Department of Modern Languages 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.”

Dr Cayley will be giving a free public lecture at 12.30 on Friday 24 January at the Pearson Room, Exeter Cathedral, on the app’s development. To attend the lecture, email or call 01392 421423.

The project was shortlisted for the 2013 Exeter Impact Award for 'Outstanding impact in arts and culture'. Watch a video and read more about the project's development on the Exeter Manuscripts Project web page.

Date: 22 January 2014

Read more University News