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Ciphers, Codes, and Notes: Crafting Knowledge in the Medieval and Modern Worlds

May- July 2022

This exhibition celebrates the medieval world from Beowulf to Heaney. It draws on major U.K. and European library collections to foreground manuscript images which show how knowledge was communicated by encoding it in ciphers, codes, maps, notes and symbolic representation of the cosmos. Modern examples from the letters and notebooks held in Special Collections, McClay Library, are positioned alongside the medieval materials to highlight the continuity of these secretive practices. The modern materials come from works of literary figures connected with Belfast who were deeply indebted to the medieval past: Seamus Heaney, C.S. Lewis, and Helen Waddell.


A major collaboration between academic and non-academic partners, this exhibition was organised as part of an AHRC Leadership Fellowship held by Dr Sinéad O’Sullivan (HAPP, QUB), and was designed with Dr Ciaran Arthur (Leverhulme Trust), Deirdre Wildy and Louisa Costelloe (McClay Library).


Online exhbition: click here