Sarah Kilroy

Sarah Kilroy

I am Head of Conservation for the University of Birmingham, overseeing the technical analysis and conservation treatment of the Birmingham Qur'an manuscript. Educator for The Birmingham Qur'an course

Location United Kingdom


  • Apologies, I have only just seen your question. We buy our made to measure boxes from Klug Conservation For single folios we use archival washer tie manuscript folders then store in an acid free box (folders from Conservation by Design) . For polyester pockets which can be used for...

  • There is an error in the subtitling at -3.10 mins, which should say 'eraser gratings' and not 'razor gratings' (I have asked for this to be corrected). For the avoidance of any doubt we do not remove any parchment for species analysis testing. It is a non-destructive form of testing. The collagen is extracted from the rubbings of the *Staedtler Mars eraser...

  • The science of radiocarbon dating gives us the window of time in which the animal died (568-645) there is no greater probability for any single year in that time frame and we do not take the average or the mean. So we do not use radiocarbon dating of the skin in isolation to date the actual manuscript but combine it with other forms of research.

  • The science of radiocarbon dating gives us the window of time in which the animal died (568-645) there is no greater probability for any single year in that time frame and we do not take the average or the mean. So we do not use radiocarbon dating of the skin in isolation to date the actual manuscript but combine it with other forms of research.

  • The binding was carried out some time between 1936 and 1944. In Mingana's papers there is a receipt for the 7 leaves that now form MS1572b dated 1936 (the year before Mingana's death) and an index slip of the disordered leaves dated March 1944.

  • The aim of the multispectral imaging process was to investigate whether or not the Birmingham Qur’an manuscript was a palimpsest. The significance being that if the manuscript was a palimpsest and the imaging had revealed a hidden underwriting, then the visible text could not have been claimed to be contemporary with the animal skin that made the parchment.

  • Thanks Robin, I believe R B Toth Associates are the company carrying out the multispectral imaging there as well.

  • Thank you Emily, the same point was raised at a talk recently.

  • For textual information on the Islamic Manuscripts try this link to Fihrist where the Islamic Arabic manuscripts from the Mingana Collection are catalogued:;f%5Btype%5D%5B%5D=manuscript

    We are aware of the issues with the textual content on the Virtual Manuscript Room,...

  • There is no radiocarbon result for MS1572b.
    The sample did not survive the pre-treatment process.
    Oxford (who did testing for us as a commercial service, not Coranica, a project we did not participate in) do not issue a result if there is any doubt.

  • @emilyc The event dated by radiocarbon dating is the date of death. Paper made from plant fibres (eg. cotton, linen, flax) can be radiocarbon dated to give the time span of the harvesting of the plants that were used to make the paper.

  • The Cadbury Research Library is open to everyone after registering as a reader on your first visit by bringing the appropriate ID. Full details of how to register can be found on our website at the following link:

    You will be able to view manuscripts from the Mingana Collection and other...

  • Robin has flagged this to the technical team.

  • Here our manuscripts are mainly bound and our method of storage is to box them individually in made-to-measure clamshell boxes made from Archival Folding Boxboard. Whether they are stored upright or flat depends on their size. Smaller items (Octavo size) we store upright, side by side, but larger ones (Folio size upwards) we store flat and in piles of a...

  • @AkramAbdulCader Margit J. Smith has just published an article on methods to deter and eradicate silverfish in 'Care and Conservation of Manuscripts 16' by Museum Tusculanum Press (published 2018) and in her paper she says electronic devices have been getting favourable reviews for deterring silverfish - the type that emit inaudible sonic waves to keep away...

  • The watermark is sometimes referred to as the wire mark which is probably a more helpful term, as the mark is made by the wire that forms part of the mold. So if a mold was sold on so would the mill's watermark go with it by default. For more information a good book on the history of paper making is Dard Hunter's 'Papermaking. The History and Technique of an...

  • Isolation and then placing material in an oxygen free environment.

  • This is a common problem in book storage and causes the loss of the headcaps on spines where books are pulled. Leaving enough space to be able to push the books either side back to allow you to grasp the spine of the book you want round the centre should avoid this.

  • @AlysonKelman Damage such as fading of media and the acceleration of deterioration of paper - (seen as yellowing) caused by light, particularly UV light from sunlight, is unfortunately irreversible and as Trish says, prevention is the key.

  • Silverfish breed in environments with high humidity (70%RH) so their presence is an indicator that the conditions are not suitable for storing paper/organics which they like to feed on. Raising the temperature will lower the RH.

  • Sarah Kilroy made a comment

    I have added two new videos (3.2 and 3.10). The first gives an overview of the conservation and analysis of the Birmingham Qur'an Manuscript. The second is of the multispectral imaging of the Birmingham Qur'an manuscript undertaken at the Cadbury Research Library's Wilson Conservation studio for your interest and further information. Best wishes, Sarah.

  • Thank you for your comment I have uploaded a video to Week 3.10 (
    showing the multispectral imaging of the Birmingham Qur'an manuscript with a link to the website of R B Toth Associates, our imaging consultants, which hopefully will answer your specific questions.

  • Welcome to all our new learners!

  • Hi Terry, The former - i.e. it is one large sheet folded in half. Hope that helps.

  • The manuscript in the video had lost its original binding and was in a poor quality, mid 20th century, western style binding that was not protecting it or appropriate. The new binding is in an Islamic style with a fore-edge flap. Where there is an original binding we will either not touch it or if it requires repair we will always retain and integrate...

  • The image of the multispectral result showing the manuscript is not a palimpsest that was on my computer screen in the video can be viewed at the following link.

  • Hi Kathleen, thanks for your feedback. The image that was on my computer screen has now been uploaded to our website and can be viewed at the following link.

  • Sarah Kilroy made a comment

    Thank you to everyone for your kind and helpful comments on our first course of this type. I am sure in the future you will see more information emerge as further research is carried out on this fascinating manuscript and the Mingana Collection.

  • Hi Anne, thanks for flagging up the issue with the subtitles. I have checked with our technical team and unfortunately these can't be corrected while the course is live but I've been assured they will be corrected for when the course is repeated.

  • Hi Terry, where the manuscript was given a new binding there are endpapers inserted between the manuscript and the binding. These are made of acid-free, archival papers and act as a barrier between the leather and the original manuscript.

  • Hi Ol, I have named some possible suppliers for archival storage products under one of your comments in another thread, they are: Preservation Equipment Ltd, Conservation Resources UK, Conservation by Design, Klug Conservation and G Ryder and Co. Ltd.

  • Hi Terry, there is writing on both sides of the parchment - the hair side and the flesh side. It is one biofolio with writing on both sides. ie. it is made up of 4 sides of writing. The bifolio is cut from one single sheet of parchment. You can see images of all four sides at the following link:...

  • Preservation Equipment Limited; G. Ryder Co. Ltd; Klug Conservation; Conservation Resources UK; Conservation by Design are all suppliers of archival materials which we have used at the CRL. I am not endorsing any specifically but it may help to have a few names to browse their websites.

  • Hi Mandy, there will be opportunities to do the course again and it will be repeated. Keep an eye on Future Learn in 2018. Sorry we can't confirm the specific dates just yet.

  • Hi Alex, Professor Matthew Collins at the University of York's Bio Archaeology department has been working on this area (ie. learning about the people who handled manuscripts from analysis of proteins) I think there will be more published on this area in the next few years.

  • The International Institute for Conservation might be of interest to you:

  • The graph of the radiocarbon result can be seen at the following link on the Cadbury Research Library website:

  • Thanks Sarah, I'll pass your comment to our technical team to see if the links can be opened in a new tab.

  • It is thought that a further 16 pages originating from the same Qur'an manuscript are held in the Bibliotheque nationale de France with the manuscript catalogue number BnF Arabe 328(c)

  • Hi Shazad, have a look at week 3 of the course for more information on radio carbon dating

  • You can find out more about the history of how Mingana built the collection here