Latest News

Pontifical Christmas Cards

Two beautiful new Pontifical Christmas cards are available for 2011. One shows the main illumination of the bishop consecrating a church; the other the illuminated opening of the Lady Mass in Advent. Cards cost £3.99 for a pack of ten, and are available from the Cathedral shop or direct from Keith Beasley in the School of Music (; Ext 2490). All proceeds are split between Cathedral charity appeals and the Pontifical Project itself.

Farmington Fellow appointed

We are delighted to announce the appointment of a Farmington Fellow, Mark Brown, a teacher from Colwyn Bay who will work on a special teaching resource associated directly with the Pontifical and the Cathedral in spring 2012. This Key Stage 2 Project will draw on the Church in Wales Syllabus for Religious Education, and its main outcome will be an interactive web resource for teachers and pupils, for use both in school and as preparation for visits to the Cathedral itself. Mark will work with the support of Dr Geraint Davies (School of Initial Teacher Education and Training, Trinity St David), the St Mary’s Centre, and staff associated with Bangor Cathedral and the Pontifical Project itself. The Fellowship has been made possible by the generous support of the Farmington Institute, founded to support, encourage and improve Religious Education in schools, colleges and universities.

News on the Coventry Pontifical

The full set of digital images from the thirteenth-century Coventry and Lichfield Pontifical (Cambridge University Library MS may now be viewed directly through this website (click on The Coventry Pontifical for access). The Coventry Pontifical is closely related to the Bangor manuscript, and is currently the subject of a doctoral dissertation being undertaken within the Department of Music at Bristol University.

Pontifical Blessings used at St Teilo’s Church, St Fagans


One of the benedictions from the Bangor Pontifical was used in June at a special Latin ceremony to dedicate vestments and liturgical objects made for use at the medieval church of St Teilo, St Fagans: National History Museum of Wales. All of these items (which include a magnificent organ, a pax board, flagons, and an incense boat) are based on authentic medieval originals, and at least a dozen craftspeople have been involved in their manufacture over the last few months. They have been commissioned as part of 'The Experience of Worship in Medieval Cathedral and Parish Church', a research project led by Bangor’s International Centre for Sacred Music Studies, for use in enactments of medieval liturgies. Each item needed to be blessed before being put to use in the church, and suitable medieval blessings with Welsh associations were explored. A benediction of vestments was chosen from the Bangor manuscript (f.154), while a more general benediction was taken from the closely-related Pontifical of Edmund Lacy (Bishop of Exeter from 1420 to 1455) to bless the organ and other objects. The Latin ceremony, which included plainchant sung by Bangor staff and postgraduates, and organ repertory composed by the London-Welsh composer Philip ap Rhys (d.1566), was led by Canon Jeremy Davies, precentor of Salisbury Cathedral.

 Pyxes, incense boat and pax board, following the blessing ceremony at St Teilo's

The Bishop and his Book

A special bilingual service of dedication and blessing, 'The Bishop and his Book', was held on Sunday 6 February in Bangor Cathedral to celebrate the return of the manuscript following its recent conservation at the National Library of Wales, Aberystwyth. The Pontifical was presented to the Dean of Bangor, the Very Revd Alun Hawkins, by the Vice-Chancellor, Prof. John G. Hughes, and blessed by the current Bishop of Bangor, the Right Reverend Andrew John. The Pro Vice-Chancellors Prof. Colin Baker, Prof. David Shepherd and Mr Wyn Thomas were also in attendance.

The service was devised specially for the occasion by Bangor’s International Centre for Sacred Music Studies in collaboration with the Cathedral. Music was sung by the Cathedral Choir, an all-female schola from the University, and a professional cantor. Several of the plainchant melodies from the Bangor Pontifical were transcribed specially for the service, two of them known only from this manuscript. Click to hear the unique antiphon In civitate domini ('In the city of the Lord') sung by Joseph Harper.

The service also included readings from the medieval Life of St Deiniol (d.584), patron and Bishop of Bangor, whose monastery stood on the site of the present cathedral. The Pontifical was blessed in the words of a medieval benediction, translated and adapted from a manuscript belonging to Edmund Lacy, Bishop of Exeter from 1420 to 1455.


Bangor Pontifical on BBC Radio 3

Tom Service visited Bangor and recorded a feature about the Bangor Pontifical Project for his programme 'A Welsh Christmas' (BBC Radio 3 'Music Matters', 18 December 2010). Click The Pontifical also featured as the subject of his weekly Guardian blog.


Coventry and Lichfield Pontifical to go online

High resolution digital images of a slightly earlier Pontifical with close links to the Bangor Pontifical itself will soon be fully accessible via these pages. The 'Coventry Pontifical' (Cambridge University Library MS was copied in the thirteenth century for the use of the bishops of the Coventry and Lichfield diocese, and although more modest in scale and decoration than its Bangor counterpart, the two share a great deal of common tetxual and musical material. Happily, survival of the Coventry manuscript enables conjectural restoration of the lost opening of the rite for the Dedication of a Church found at the beginning of the Bangor Pontifical, where the disappearance of five leaves means that fifteen of the plainchant melodies and many important ritual instructions have been lost. The Syndics of Cambridge University Library have kindly given permission for the digital images of the Coventry Pontifical to'go live' on both the website of the Digital Image Archive of Medieval Music (DIAMM) and via our own site.

Art Fund Lecture: Dr Lynda Dennison

The Bangor Pontifical will be the subject of this year’s Art Fund Lecture (Wednesday 27 October, 6.30 pm). Dr Lynda Dennison FSA, a member of the Cambridge Illuminations Project team, will use a number of the digitized images to illustrate her discussion of ‘A Rare Survival: the Bangor Pontifical and its relationship to East Anglian and London Manuscript Production in the first quarter of the Fourteenth Century’. All are most welcome.

Phase One Completed!

Exactly one year on, the Project has reached its first significant milestone. Completion of project phase one, funded by a Welsh Assembly grant, has now enabled conservation and rebinding of the Pontifical and digitization of its 340 pages. Viewers may now zoom in on the excellent high-quality images here. The manuscript itself returned to the University Archive last week from the Conservation Unit of the National Library of Wales, where it has been fully restored and provided with a new medieval-style goatskin cover (see for more details). Its return will be publicly celebrated at a special service of dedication in Bangor Cathedral on Sunday 6 February 2011 in the presence of the current Bishop of Bangor, the Right Reverend Andrew John.

Julian Thomas, Head of the Conservation Unit, National Library of Wales, completing the rebinding.

PhD Student appointed

We are very pleased to announce the election of a new PhD student, Christopher Edge from Sheffield, who has BMus and MMus degrees from Huddersfield University. Chris is funded by a 125 Bangor University Anniversary bursary and will work within the School of Music. His research project will focus on the codification and dissemination of the medieval Use of Salisbury with special reference to the Pontifical, and will include transcription and analysis of the manuscript's extensive musical notation.

Workshop for 'Medievalism Transformed'

With the assistance of members of the Bangor Pontifical Project team, a student-led workshop was held at the 6th International Postgraduate Conference, Medievalism Transformed, at Bangor University on 11 June, 2010, the theme of which was ‘Readers, Listeners and Owners of Books in the Middle Ages and Beyond.’ The Pontifical Project team are delighted that digitised images of the Pontifical were used as the basis of an interdisciplinary palaeographic and codicological workshop, in which students of art history, music and literature examined and commented upon the text, music and illustration of pages from the Pontifical. Their observations are the first of many new insights that its digitisation will bring to this important book.

DIAMM in Bangor

An internationally famed enterprise at the very cutting edge of manuscript digitization – The Digital Image Archive of Medieval Music (generally known as DIAMM) – has just made a major contribution to the Bangor Pontifical Project.  Dr Julia Craig- McFeely, DIAMM’s Project Manager and Co-Director, visited Bangor at the beginning of February to photograph the medieval Pontifical, an exceptional liturgical manuscript from the fourteenth century. Two students assisted her with the digitization process, including Miriam Jenner, one of our English MA students working in the area of medieval Marian devotion.

The high-resolution DIAMM images will be available for all to see via this website later this year. The Bangor Pontifical Project team is very grateful to Dr McFeely and to her Bangor postgraduate assistants for their work with the manuscript, which will bear fruit in the widening of access to this codex. The team is also grateful to all individuals and funding bodies whose generosity has made possible this progress with the project. In particular, we acknowledge the contributions made by the Isla Johnston Trust, the Piggott Trust, the Marc Fitch Foundation, the Association of Manuscripts and Archives in Research Collections (AMARC), and CyMAL: Museums Archives and Libraries Wales. With their support, the Pontifical is now digitally photographed and is currently undergoing essential conservation work at the National Library of Wales.


Phase 1 underway thanks to Welsh Assembly Government grant

The Project team is delighted to announce that Phase 1 of the Bangor Pontifical Project began officially on 1 February 2010 and is now well underway. This first phase in its entirety has been funded by a generous Archive Grant awarded by CyMAL: Museums Archives and Libraries Wales, a policy division of the Welsh Assembly Government that represents a significant investment by the Assembly in the development of local museums, archives and libraries services to meet 21st-century needs. CyMAL staff have offered the project team invaluable advice and support over a period of several months, and we particularly wish to thank Sarah Horton (CyMAL archivist), Sarah Paul (CyMAL collections adviser) and Iwan Jones (CyMAL adviser) for their assistance. Phase 1 has two main objectives: full conservation treatment for the manuscript (including rebinding and the making of a new cover) and delivery of high quality digital images of the entire manuscript. Progress to date is recorded below: .

1-2 February 2010: Disbinding of the Pontifical in the Bangor University Archive by Mr Julian Thomas, Head of the Conservation Unit, National Library of Wales. (Part of this process has been recorded on video by Huw Powell, Media

Development Officer for IT Services.)


3 February 2010:  Digitization of the Pontifical in the Bangor University Archive by Dr Julia Craig-McFeely, Director and Project Manager, Digital Image Archive of Medieval Music (DIAMM).

9 February 2010: Transportation of the Pontifical to the Conservation Unit, National Library of Wales, where conservation work will now begin.

April 2010 (provisional): return of the Pontifical to the Bangor Archive, complete with new binding.


Grants and awards


We are also delighted to announce the recent award of several other generous grants towards the costs of creating the new website:

  • The Marc Fitch Fund: £2000 (October 2009)
  • The Plainsong and Medieval Music Society: £1000 (November 2009)
  • The Association for Manuscripts and Archives in Research Collections: £1000 (December 2009)

Anniversary PhD Scholarship


Bangor University College of Arts and Humanities is offering a three-year Anniversary Research Bursary worth £7,000 a year for a doctoral student to work on the Bangor Pontifical. The project is entitled 'The codification and dissemination of the liturgical Use of Salisbury and its chant repertory, with special reference to the Bangor Pontifical'. Further details are available on the website of the College of Arts and Humanities. The application deadline is noon on 30 April 2010.