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Book of Kells (Dublin, Trinity College, MS 58), f. 200r. Retrieved through IIIF from

A module for identifying agents - encompassing persons, peoples and organisations - and managing information about them has been around for many years, continually evolving as time went by, but what was absent all this time is a public interface for accessing relevant data in a user-friendly way.

This is a first attempt at offering such an interface, which is provided "as-is" and should be considered beta-quality for now (not that there is any official product release cycle as such but using the label is a convenient means to sound the right alarm bells). It currently consists of a basic search, aggregated data overviews for individual agents, and hover-card labels that you will meet elsewhere in the catalogue.

I am aware of duplicates, uneven coverage and other shortcomings that typically arise from the progressive nature of this website or simply, lack of personpower. An earlier version of the interface was available to editors partly because it helps us address some of those issues. None of these objections, however, seemed to weigh heavily against the alternative, which is having nothing at all to offer.

Note that for convenience's sake, many agents are not formally indexed but are nonetheless included by exclusive virtue of being linked. It is a wonderful forte of the system that allows us to retrieve and bring together disparate data from disparate data sources, but some useful metadata will be missing and discoverability is more limited as a result. For instance, we may be linking to a scribe whose name and associated data can be retrieved and presented, but without, say, a floruit it will be difficult to find this person within the appropriate time range. I say "difficult" because it is possible, to an extent, to rely on the dates we have, if any, for associated objects (manuscripts, scribal hands), but such a circuitous approach comes with limitations of its own and is not necessarily methodologically sound.

Meanwhile, I hope that the new interface will improve your experience in using this website. Next up are thematic categories for scribes (in the broadest, non-pejorative sense of the word), authors and scholars.

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  • Book of Taliesin scribe
    fl. first half of the 14th century
    An anonymous scribe whose hand, designated ‘X86’ by Daniel Huws, has been identified in five Welsh manuscripts, of which the Book of Taliesin (Peniarth 2) may be the best known. Others are Peniarth 6 part 4 (Gereint), NLW MS 3036B (Brut y brenhinedd), and BL Cotton Cleopatra MS A xiv and Harley MS 4353 (both containing copies of the Cyfnerth recension of Cyfraith Hywel). It is not possible to pinpoint any particular monastic house with certainty, but he seems to have been active in the general area of southeast- or mid-Wales.
  • Elis Gruffydd
    Welsh administrator and soldier as well as a chronicler and translator, who is probably known for having compiled an extensive Welsh-language chronicle of world history.
  • Eugene O'Curry
    ''b''. 1794–d. 1862
    Irish scholar
  • James Ware
    d. 1666
    (Sir) James Ware, Irish scholar, historian and antiquarian
  • Tuileagna Ó Maoil Chonaire
  • Seán Ó Catháin [scribe]
    fl. 1720s
    Irish scribe responsible for BL MS Egerton 184 and RIA MS 23 G 4.
  • Huw Machno
    fl. 1585–1637
    Welsh poet.
  • Anonymous [LU scribe A]
  • Arthur Brownlow
    Anglo-Irish landowner at Lurgan (Co. Armagh) whose collection of Irish manuscripts attracted the attention of Edward Lhuyd in 1699.
  • Brian Ó Fearghail
    Irish scribe and agricultural worker.
  • Giolla na Naomh Mac Aodhagáin
    fl. 15th century
    Irish scribe.
  • Ó Duibhgeannáin family
    angl. Duigenan, important learned family of historians and scribes
  • Thomas ab Ieuan ap Deicws
    fl. 16th century
    Welsh priest(?) and scribe.
  • John O'Donovan
    Irish scholar
  • Lewis Morris [d. 1765]
    Welsh scholar and land surveyor. He and his brother Richard founded the Honourable Society of Cymmrodorion.
  • Authors

    A random selecton of authors and those so described.

  • Tírechán
    c. 690
    Irish bishop and author of the Collectanea about St Patrick
  • Ruman mac Colmáin
    d. c.747
    Ruman (Rumann) mac Colmáin
  • Cú Roí
    Warrior and king of Munster in tales of the Ulster Cycle.
  • Rechtgal úa Síadail
    fl. late 8th / early 9th century
    Old Irish poet
  • Muirchú
    fl. 7th c.
    Author of a Life of St Patrick
  • George Owen [of Henllys]
    Welsh clergyman in the Church of England, antiquarian, genealogist and cartographer.
  • Seaán mac Ruaidhrí Mac Craith
    fl. mid–14th century
    Irish historian, member of the Meic Craith (Magraths) who appear as a hereditary family of bardic poets. He is reputed to have written the Caithréim Thoirdhealbhaigh.
  • Philemon Holland
    English physician and teacher, who undertook a number of translations into England, including that of William Camden’s Britannia.
  • John Lewis [of Llynwene]
    d. 1615/1616
    Welsh barrister and historian. He was author of a History of Great-Britain, which did not appear in print until 1729.
  • Cúán úa Lothcháin
    d. 1024
    Early Irish poet.
  • Strabo
    d. c.20s AD
    Greek geographer and historian from Pontus (Asia Minor, modern-day Turkey). He is known primarily for his Geographica, a considerable collection of geographical knowledge.
  • Ellis Wynne
    Welsh clergyman and author of Gweledigaetheu y bardd cwsc ‘Visions of the sleeping bard’ (London, 1703).
  • Edward Charles [1757-1828]
    Welsh author and poet, known also by his pseudonym Siamas Gwynedd.
  • Taliesin
    fl. 6th century
    renowned British poet, known both as a historical poet at the court of Urien and other rulers and as a more fictionalised persona of supreme status. Poems attributed to him survive in the 14th-century manuscript now known as the Book of Taliesin (NLW Peniarth 2).
  • Fynes Moryson
    English official, traveller and travel writer born in Lincolnshire, who is best known for his Itenerary (1617),a multi-volume work in which he offers descriptions of and observations on the many lands he visited abroad. This includes an account of his experiences in Ireland, where he had been secretary to Lord Mountjoy, the Lord Deputy of Ireland.