Advent Calendar 2019 – Fantastic Beasts

Sunday 1 December 2019

Last year we brought you an advent calendar of Christmas and winter themed images from our collections. For 2019, we have decided to do something a little different for the theme of our advent calendar – Fantastic Beasts!

The bestiary (bestiarum vocabulum), popular in the middle ages, is a manuscript compiling often lavish illustrations of animals, each with a moral lesson for its viewer. Many of the animals included in these natural histories we now recognise as mythical or imaginary. While we aren’t lucky enough to have our own example of a manuscript bestiary at St Andrews, we thought we would create our own collection of imaginary creatures in the form of an advent calendar. Each day we will post an illustration of a mythical creature from our rare books, manuscripts, archives and even photographic collections.

An example of a ‘beast’ illustrating one of our manuscripts. This manuscript from 1584 is known by staff in Special Collections as the ‘fish indenture’ because of the elaborate fish (or maybe a serpent?) decorating the letter T (ms39074).

We have taken some liberties with a few of the images, giving them a little seasonal flair! We hope you enjoy the posts.

Our thanks to our reprographic team and Eddie Martin for their skills and time in producing these images.

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