Export block is put on medieval medical book

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The Independent Online

A remarkable medieval medical handbook with a versatility and entertainment value to put most 21st-century volumes to shame was temporarily saved for the nation yesterday when the arts minister Baroness Blackstone placed a bar on its export.

Few journals known to the medical fraternity impart quite such knowledge as the book linking medicine and religious faith, which was put together in 1454 by an author discernible from the relic as "Richard of the city of Lincoln".

It presents rare medical texts within a range of academic studies, including mathematics, astronomy, astrology and "calendrical reckoning"; lists devices and texts to help with prognosis and includes a number of striking visual aids to diagnosis, including the "zodiac man" and the "vein man". The handbook is important because it can be dated and is associated with a specific person. It is also entirely in Middle English, setting it apart from the majority of medical texts of the period.

The deferral period will be extended beyond 2 October only if there is a serious intention to raise funds to keep the journal in the United Kingdom. For security reasons, the manuscript's current location has not been disclosed.

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