MS M.890, fols. 13v–14r

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Fountains Abbey bestiary

England, probably North Yorkshire
ca. 1325–1350
227 x 152 mm

Gift of Alastair Bradley Martin, 1958

MS M.890, fols. 13v–14r
Page description: 

Left Page (Fol. 13v)
Raven: The bestiary tells us that the raven’s Latin name, corvus, comes from the croaking sound it makes; it also notes that the carrion-eater starts with the eyes when feeding on corpses.

Crow: The bestiary depicts the crow as similar in appearance but slightly smaller than the raven illustrated above it. It encourages men to emulate the crow in the attentive and equitable way it was thought to care for its offspring.

Dove: The bestiary pictures multiple birds in a dovecote to convey the importance of their flying in flocks—holding together like good preachers hold together the faithful through virtue and good works.

Right Page (Fol. 14r)
Turtledove: The bestiary praises the constancy of the female turtledove, perhaps shown perched alone atop the tree as a chaste “widow” after her mate’s death.

Swallow: The long-tailed swallow was admired for its ability to catch and eat its prey while airborne, its skill in nest building, and its reputed ability to restore sight to its blind offspring.