Scriptorium

Bede at work in the scriptorium
Bede at work in the scriptorium

Before the invention of the printing press books were written by hand, usually by monks working in a room called a ‘Scriptorium’. The ‘Scriptorium’ was a small space, in the monastery, next to the library. Here the scribes (writers) would write, illustrate and copy manuscripts. In England the most famous historian, writer and translator was ‘The Venerable Bede’ a monk who lived from 673-735 AD. He is regarded as the first English historian – he wrote or translated more than 40 books.

When the printing press arrived in the 15th century the need for a scribe or a scriptorium was suddenly obsolete. What language was Bede translating from when he translated books?

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