Curious cures: enhancing the discoverability of medieval medical recipes


  • University of Cambridge, United Kingdom

Project summary

This two-year, collaborative project will open up to health researchers worldwide 187 medieval manuscripts containing medical recipes across Cambridge collections, and the currently inaccessible corpus of approximately 8000 Latin and Middle English medical recipes that they contain.

A combined programme of manuscript digitisation, cataloguing and conservation will provide multiple points of entry.  Researchers will see recipes in their original form: through high-resolution images viewable via the Cambridge Digital Library (CUDL), and medium-resolution images available for free download and reuse via CUDL and International Image Interoperability Framework (IIIF) manifests.

Fully searchable XML descriptions of the manuscripts’ contents, physical characteristics, and histories will be published alongside, revealing the intellectual and material contexts in which these texts were circulated and received.  Adhering to interoperable TEI guidelines, these descriptions will facilitate cross-collection discovery, building strong links with comparable manuscripts in Oxford and Manchester.

Hyperdiplomatic transcriptions, created using Transkribus, will provide a level of detail unmatched by existing finding aids, enabling keyword searching and granular, computational analysis of the recipes.  The project will empower other organisations to undertake similar work with their collections by creating a robust and extensible methodology, and disseminating it through a website, workshops and symposium for researchers, curators and libraries.