Babel MS 18
This Babel number gathers together fragments which share an early modern provenance: all were used as tabs in bindings provided for Richard Bancroft. Some have text which reveal they came from a well-produced twelfth-century codex, probably of an astronomical work. Others are blank and some are close in texture with the parchment used for the ones with writing, but there are also some where the quality of material appears different. A word of warning, therefore: it is possible that fragments from more than one manuscript are gathered under this heading.
mm (h) x mm (w)
History and further information
All the fragments presently known are small cuttings used as tabs in a range of binding, some of which have the arms of John Whitgift, Archbishop of Canterbury from 1583 until his death on 29 February 1604, while others were clearly made for his successor as archbishop, Richard Bancroft. As Prof. James Carley advises us, Bancroft had a campaign of adding titles to his books by inserting tabs in his books, with the title written on the protruding lip (showing that the books were stored upright with their fore-edge outermost). Clearly, he wanted durable material for these tabs and used waste parchment and turned to what was once probably a rather fine volume. It was being dismembered markedly late, in the second half of the first decade of the seventeenth century -- perhaps it was already damaged beyond repair.