Dr Richard Ashdowne, Editor, Dictionary of Medieval Latin from British Sources, talks about the completion of the most comprehensive study ever produced of the vocabulary of Latin in the medieval period in Britain.
Begun in 1913, the finished dictionary is the culmination of a century-long enterprise which has had over 200 researchers working on it over the decades.
The idea of compiling a new dictionary of medieval Latin was first proposed to the Academy in 1913 to provide a replacement for the dictionary prepared by the French antiquarian Charles du Fresne, Sieur du Cange, in the seventeenth century that was still being used by scholars in the twentieth century. Now, just over a hundred years later, it has been my responsibility and privilege as editor to bring this project to its successful conclusion.
December 2013 saw the publication of the final fascicule (part) of the British Academy’s Dictionary of Medieval Latin from British Sources, an undertaking first proposed in 1913. Its current editor, Richard Ashdowne, reflects on bringing a hundred years of research to a close.
Despite the indisputable importance of Latin for the people of Britain and their societies, and despite so much of it having survived, medieval Latin in Britain has received very little attention. It is worth considering why.