Early books reveal sleepy readers' fear of illness

Researchers at St Andrews University have learnt about the lifestyle of medieval people through their reading habits by analysing well-thumbed book pages.

The team used a machine called a densitometer to discover the dirt within the pages of manuscripts.

Dr Kathryn Rudy, a lecturer in the School of Art History, realised the most soiled pages were likely to have been the most read. The most-read pages revealed that medieval people feared illness, were self-interested and often fell asleep while reading late at night.