The Great Parchment Book – Celebrating the Art of Writing in Waterford

One of many extraordinary hand-written, manuscript treasures The Great Parchment Book is available to view online. All 450 pages are now available worldwide on DIAS.

The Great Parchment Book is a Waterford Corporation record and unlike the Charter Roll or the charters, it is in the form of a book.

The title is stamped in gold leaf on the spine of the book ‘Liber Antiquissimus Civitatis Waterford’ (Most Ancient Book of the City of Waterford), three words in Latin but the name of the city in English.

The Book covers 300 years in Waterford’s story 1356–1649, ending abruptly with Oliver Cromwell at the gates.

DIAS notes: “There is a gap for the period 1615 to 1626. Either those pages have been lost or were removed from the records by central or local government officials, perhaps in 1618 when the Dublin government forcibly disbanded Waterford Corporation, seized all records and transported them to Dublin!”

The Book was compiled from at least five older sources, both copied from and actually incorporating some earlier documents. It was bound together sometime after the final entry in 1649. The script is a Gothic script which is typical of the Middle Ages. The Book is written in Latin, French, and English and is the earliest use of English for city records in Ireland.

It contains just one word in Irish — Port Láirge — clearly visible in capitals under the illustration of the city on the extraordinary page for the year 1566.

Great Calligraphy Festival to celebrate the Art of Writing in Waterford — the Great Parchment Book
A page from the Great Parchment Book

The Great Calligraphy Festival celebrating the Art of Writing in Waterford will be both online and in-person.

Thanks to funding from Creative Ireland/Waterford this has come to fruition and Waterford Treasures will also put a ‘Turning the Page’ interactive into the gallery where the Book is displayed, with translations, thanks to the late Dr. Niall Byrne and his family.

Videos, tutorials, and inspirational pieces by the world-famous calligrapher Denis Brown are available on Waterford Treasures YouTube channel and other social media.

“The Waterford Great Parchment Book is a unique source for how a great medieval city operated in the Middle Ages,” Rosemary Ryan of Waterford Treasures said.

“Who actually were the guys who did the writing? Since they couldn’t buy online or in the stationery shop how did they get their ink and quills and vellum? The Book is now online thanks to the Dublin Institute of Advanced Studies and our Festival will celebrate the Art of Writing in Waterford. Please join us!”

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I'm a freelance content creator, author, and journalist who has a strong desire to share useful content about Irish people and things about Ireland at home and abroad. I am constantly curious.

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