Medieval manuscripts blog

Bringing our medieval manuscripts to life

01 April 2024

Annual manuscripts weigh-in

It's that time of year when we carry out our annual manuscripts weigh-in.

The Bedford Hours on a weighing scale

The weighing of the Bedford Hours

In keeping with tradition, teams work overnight to weigh every manuscript in our collection. They then compare the results with the famous table compiled by Sir Horace Round (after whom the British Museum Round Reading Room was named). This enables scholars worldwide to embellish their papers with little-known facts that no-one could possibly verify, along the lines 'the Luttrell Psalter weighs as much as next door's dog'.

The Splendor Solis on the weighing scales

The weighing of the Splendor Solis

Here are some results from this year's survey. Note: manuscripts tend to gain an extra gram or two during Leap Years.

  • The Bedford Hours, a masterpiece of 15th-century Parisian illumination: 9.0114 kg, or the same as a baby Pygmy Hippo (unwashed);
  • Splendor Solis, an alchemical treatise made in Germany in the 1580s: 3.067 kg, or a flamingo standing on one leg;
  • A charter of Raymond of Toulouse, with a wax seal: 0.0925 kg, or half a dormouse.

A charter placed on the weighing scales

The weighing of the charter

All measurements have been scrutinised by the Guinness Book of Records, who have kindly asked us never to bother them again.


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