W is for…



Some of the material in the Bolton Library has taken a rather more circuitous route to the 21st century, leaving the bookshelf proper behind at some point to stow away in the titles which now grace the shelves of the collection. These are the scraps, fragments, strips and squares of what were once whole items in their own right: printed books and manuscripts, charters and legal documents, correspondence and account books, recycled by the bookbinders of the collection to strengthen and support the stars of the show. Such recycling reflected the economy of an age when paper and parchment, even used, were just too precious a material to waste.




The prosecution of witchcraft began to gather speed in Reformation Europe, spurred on initially by the 1484 papal bull Summis desiderantes affectibus. Composed some one hundred years after papal legitimization is the encyclopaedic tome on the subject by the erudite young Spanish Jesuit Martin Del Rio, divided into six parts and detailing early modern witchcraft and magic. We find the issue persisting even during the Age of Enlightenment at the turn of the 18th century, in the work of geologist John Beaumont.