Grosseteste at the Residential Research Library Inaugural Conference

Last week Giles Gasper and Sigbjørn Sønnesyn attended the Residential Research Library Inaugural Conference held, conventiently for our Durham University-based speakers at St Chad’s College and Ushaw College.

The theme of the inaugural conference was Libraries, Learning and Religious Identities: Britain, Ireland and the European Context, c.1100-c.1900 and both speakers drew on items in the special collections held by Durham Cathedral, Durham University and Ushaw College.

DCL A III 12 14v detail
A detail from Durham Cathedral Library MS A III 12, f. 14v. Image provided by Provided by Durham Priory Library Project – a collaboration between Durham University and Durham Cathedral.

Giles gave a paper which drew together Grosseteste’s interests in science and pastoral care with his role as a teacher and examined a Durham Cathedral manuscript known as A.III.12 that includes Grosseteste’s commentary on the first 64 psalms, as well as sermons and other shorter works, and other philosophical treatises. It is not known when or how DCL A.III.12 arrived in Durham, but in his paper Giles explored the evolution of Grosseteste’s interests over his life time and how the roles he held and places he lived shaped his ideas and influenced his reading and writing. Giles reminded us of the complexities and pastoral interests of the man behind the shorter scientific treatises that we have devoted most of our project-time to and emphasised the value of engaging with Grosseteste’s work as a whole.


Sigbjørn dedicated his paper to aspects of of a problem that the Ordered Universe Project has been unravelling since it first started reading Grosseteste’s scientific works: namely Grosseteste’s relationship with the works of Aristotle. Sigbjørn’s paper led the audience through how the Ordered Universe team has tried to establish when Grosseteste may have encountered the works of Aristotle and the commentaries of Averroes (Ibn Rushd) and in which translations.


The papers (and a third by Graziana Ciola) led to stimulating discussion and questions afterward and Giles and Sigbjørn enjoyed having a chance to share some of the less well-known parts of their work on Grosseteste on home turf.

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