Avian Treasures at The Hunterian

Page of Manuscript illustrated with a Golden Eagle and a Goshawk in flight

A great treasury of birds is just waiting to be discovered in the host of sites, eclectic holdings, and avian specimens found in The Hunterian at the heart of the University of Glasgow. What makes The Hunterian’s collection unique in the scientific world of birds is its connection to the University of Glasgow’s Special Collections, which holds one-of-a-kind medieval manuscripts, eighteenth-century hand-coloured images, and nineteenth-century colour plates. These rare manuscripts and books explore the essence of ornithological biodiversity, and beautifully complement The Hunterian’s rich holdings of natural history and art. These many bird treasures will offer a glimpse into centuries of genuine scientific inquiry, classification, and documentation, exposing our great human curiosity and capacity for birds throughout the centuries. 




‌There are two key elements to the project:

  1. An event at University of Glasgow Special Collections, allowing visitors to view these important manuscripts and books.  This took place in September 2018 and was very well attended.
  2. A treasure trail, leading you in the footsteps of explorers and scientists, following clues to many bird treasures at The Hunterian. 

Hand coloured illustration of a Peregrine Falcon standing on coastal rock. Another bird stands on rock in mid distance and other birds or in flight in background. John Gould, The birds of Great Britain, 1804-1881, London, (1873)  


Leslie S. Jacoby, Doctoral Researcher in English Language & Linguistics 

Leslie’s interdisciplinary doctoral research aims to understand how and why medieval French falconry instructional treatises were created for an aristocratic audience practicing the art of falconry in France from 1350–1500. The primary manuscript is The Art of Falconry and Venery by Guillaume Tardif (GUL, Special Collections, MS Hunter 269).


Top - from Guillaume Tardif's The Art of Falconry and the Art of Venery (c. 1490s), MS Hunter 269_folio 7v © University of Glasgow Archives & Special Collections
Above - John Gould, The birds of Great Britain, 1804-1881, London, (1873) , Sp Coll n2-a.7  vol.1-3  © University of Glasgow Archives & Special Collections