Future Research

UC CONNECT Public Lecture

Dr Chris Jones

“Revealing the Mysteries of the Canterbury Roll”

The Canterbury Roll is a five-metre long English genealogical text, the only one of its kind in the Southern Hemisphere. Part of the University of Canterbury’s collection since 1918, the Canterbury Roll was created in the early 1400s, begins with Noah and traces the rulers of England from the mythical Brutus to King Edward IV. It was subsequently modified a number of times before it emerged in its final form, probably during the reign of King Richard III. Modern University of Canterbury (UC) researchers and students are now asking new questions and developing new techniques to increase access to this unique historic item. In this upcoming UC Connect public lecture project director Dr Chris Jones will share the results of cutting-edge scientific research undertaken at the start of 2018 by a team of British and New Zealand researchers. He will also explore the world in which the Canterbury Roll was originally made and discuss how it came to be in Aotearoa New Zealand.

When: Wednesday 18 July, 7pm-8pm.
Where: Central Lecture Theatres, UC Ilam campus

15 July 2018

U3A Lecture

Dr Chris Jones

“The Canterbury Roll: A Contested Past & New Discoveries”

The Canterbury – or Maude – Roll is Aoteroa New Zealand’s most significant European medieval manuscript. Originally created in the early 15th century, the Roll is a 5 metre English genealogical text. Purchased by the University of Canterbury in 1918, the manuscript remained, until recently, little known and difficult to access. This paper will introduce the Roll’s history, some of its most striking features, and provide an overview of new scientific research.

When: Monday 9 July 2018, 1:30pm-3pm.
Where: West End Hall, Timaru

15 July 2018

Media Spotlight

Dr Chris Jones appeared on Radio New Zealand National's "Nine to Noon" programme with Kathryn Ryan on 1 February 2018 to talk about the Roll in a 30 minute segment, "Secrets of the 600 year-old scroll & the kiwi connection".

The Roll Project was the subject of an article by The Times's technology correspondent on 29 January 2018 [access requires subscription]. The story was syndicated in, amongst other newspapers, the Christchurch Press. It also featured on the websites of the The Sun (29 January 2018) and Aleteia (31 January 2018).

1 February 2018

Public Lecture

Professor Haida Liang (Nottingham Trent University, UK)

“A Holistic Approach to the Non-invasive Scientific Examination of Historic Manuscripts”

Professor Liang, Head of Imaging & Sensing for Archaeology, Art history & Conservation Mobile Lab at Nottingham Trent University in the UK is presently visiting the University of Canterbury to carry out research into UC’s unique 15th-century English genealogical text, the Canterbury Roll. This lecture will explore the techniques Haida and her team are employing to reveal new information about the manuscript.

The event will be accompanied by a rare public viewing of the Canterbury Roll.

When: Friday 12 January, 3pm-4pm.
Where: Room 388, Level 3 Central Library, Puaka-James Hight Building, UC Ilam campus

To register please see the UC Events site.

10 January 2018

Unrolled! The Canterbury Roll – A Symposium

On the 12 January, the University of Canterbury is hosting a symposium to explore current work into the Roll and chart future research pathways.

The symposium timetable can be found here. The symposium is open to all UC staff and students. It is only open to members of the public by invitation. For all enquiries please contact the General Editor.

10 January 2018

Revealing the "Invisible" Roll

In January 2018, Professor Haida Liang (Nottingham Trent University Imaging & Sensing for Archaeology, Art history & Conservation Mobile Lab) and Dr Natasha Hodgson (Nottingham Trent University, History) are visiting Christchurch to carry out precision imaging of the Roll.

Spectral imaging, an X-ray Fluorescence Spectrometer (XRF), and a high sensitivity and high spectral resolution spectrometer are being used to carry out pigment identification and identification of any faded or "hidden" writing or drawings.

Spectral imaging and reflectance spectroscopy provide information about compounds used; XRF gives complementary information about the chemical elements. Professor Liang and her team are utilizing expertise developed in analysing medieval manuscripts from the Bodleian Library and the Fitzwilliam Museum.

The story was reported on the TVNZ 6pm news bulletin on 8 January and Dr Jones gave an interview to Radio New Zealand National's 5 O'Clock Report on the same day.

UC Press Release

The visit of the NTU ISAAC Mobile Lab to UC is generously funded by a $5000 grant from the UC Marsden Support Fund.

10 January 2018

The Canterbury Roll Project – Stage 2

Stage 2 of the Canterbury Roll Project is expected to be released in 2019. It involves linking a database to the existing transcription/translation. The database will allow users to click on any individual who appears in the Latin or English text and view a detailed entry on that person with accompanying bibliography.

Stage 2 commenced in November 2016. The database was developed via the PACE internship programme in conjunction with the UC Arts Digital Lab and DIGI403. It is being compiled via a collaboration between UC History, the PACE internship programme, and Nottingham Trent University (UK).

Future stages in the project are intended to facilitate the digital reconstruction of the various scribal “layers” that compose the Roll and to enable more detailed exploration of the relationship between the text and its sources.

Project Timeline



Major outcome



Information website with basic photographic facsimile of Roll



Release of TEI edition with high quality images, transcription, and translation. Accompanied by textual notes and indications of where the new version departs from the Wall edition 



Release of tablet/mobile-accessible version



Integration of a comprehensive database of all individuals who appear on the Roll



A digitally “layered” version of the manuscript, intended to reveal the work of each scribe



An expanded set of notes including commentary and indications of the original sources used on a line-by-line basis


20 December 2017

Page last updated: 15 July 2018

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