|Fighting bacteria the Anglo-Saxon way
||[Dec. 22nd, 2015|09:28 pm]
Full report of the rest of our visit to London as soon as I can. In the interim, though, something from the radio which brightened our homeward journey:
If you can, listen to this clip from the Radio 4 PM programme: Eddie Mair interviews Dr Freya Harrison and Dr Christina Lee, both of the University of Nottingham. They have, in the spirit of investigation through re-enactment, been trying out an eye salve from Bald's Leechbook, a 10th century Anglo-Saxon medical text. It's a lovely story, and cheered up the dark wet evening. The only bit that set me muttering was the discussion of how, if "they" had this sort of medical skill in the tenth century, the knowledge had been lost - I felt they might at least have considered the precariousness of knowledge contained in a book written by hand and of which one single copy survives. Oh, yes, similar remedies may be recorded in similar manuscripts, but this particular mixture came from a book which sounds very like one practitioner's notes: it isn't a basis on which we can assert that "they" knew anything. This does not detract from the main matter of the report.
The Leechbook is in the British Library, whose account of the project is less afraid of long words than the BBC's (and includes a little video, which I haven't yet watched, as I am writing this on my notebook).