The Schøyen Collection holds manuscripts from around the world spanning 5000 years of human culture and civilisation. Many are medieval.
The Schøyen Collection crosses borders and unites cultures, religions and unique materials found nowhere else. The Collection, based in London and Oslo, contains over 20,000 significant manuscripts of major cultural importance and is an important part of the world’s heritage.
There is no public collection that has the Schøyen Collection’s unique array of manuscripts from all the greatest manuscript hoards, including the Dead Sea Scrolls, The Cairo Genizah of Hebrew MSS, The Oxyrhynchus hoard of classical papyri, the Dishna Biblical papyri, The Nag Hammadi Gnostic papyri, the Dunhuang hoard of Buddhist MSS, and many others. Nor is there one with such a variety, geographically, linguistically and textually, and of scripts and writing materials, covering so a great span of time — 5,000 years of history.
The Schøyen Collection was started around 1920 by Engineer M.O. Schøyen (1896-1962), father of Martin Schøyen, who collected some 1000 volumes of early and later editions of Norwegian and international literature, history, travel, science, as well as antiquities.
Martin Schøyen first extended the collection with ancient coins, antiquities, early printed books and incunables. From that beginning, he went on to acquire important manuscripts that can now be found across the themes and categories presented on this website.
The latest additions to the Schoyen Collection have included movie scripts and storyboards, and examples of modern classical virtual notation in the Music collection.
The Middle Ages
The The Schøyen Collection holds 57 manuscripts, fragments, seals and books with a medieval bearing. Especially interesting are a Greek manuscript from the 10th century containing the Gospels (MS 675), also known as the Charles of Anjou Gospel and a number of curious calendars, among which may be found an Ivory Bookform Calendar with weekdays, golden numbers, Tabula Signorum, solar circle and feast days. The “book” from AD 1500 is made of 9 plates of ivory with writings in Runes as well as the Latin alphabet.
Ivory Bookform Calendar from c. 1500, MS 1577. The manuscript which is made of ivory is from Sweden, ca. 1500. It measures 6×12 cm and holds 9 plates, single column, (6×11 cm), 4-6 lines in Runes of the younger Futhark, some saints’ names added later in French in capitals, 1 solar circle drawn like a ropework spiked wheel with solar numbers in runes, another drawn like a spiked wheel with solar numbers in Gothic book script of medium to low grade and quality, 32 feast day symbols indicated with symbols, runes, crosses and fishes in black and red, 80 drawings of saints in black and red have been copied after a Flemish book of hours, use of Brughes. Calendars in bookform made on ivory are of the utmost rarity. This is probably the most extensively illustrated example extant, and the only specimen in private hands.