The Aberdeen Bestiary

Folio 36v - De pica; the magpie.

Folio 37r - the magpie, continued. De corvo; the raven

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Commentary, Translation and Transcription

These sections are located below the image on each page, scroll down page and click on the tabs to view them. It is also possible to view the translation alongside the image by clicking the translation icon in the toolbar

It is not part of the project to provide a definitive edition of the text of the Bestiary, but to help readers by providing a transcription and translation of the text. Currently the following editorial conventions obtain:


  1. The original capitalisation is retained, but capitals have been added for personal and place names, excluding deus and diabolus.
  2. The original punctuation, including a point and inverted semi-colon (both serving as commas), and a point (serving as a full stop), is represented by comma, full stop and question-mark; a colon has been inserted before quotations.
  3. Suggested readings are in [ ].
  4. Variants from other Bestiary texts (eg Ashmole 1511 and Patrologia Latina 176) are added where they indicate a corruption, elucidate a meaning and replace excised text. They are represented as [A: PL:]


  1. Direct quotations from the Bible, where identified, are cited from the Authorised Version in ( ).
  2. Paraphrased quotations are identified where possible and indicated as: (see Job, 18:22).
  3. Suggested translations of corrupt words are in [ ].
  4. Capitalisation is sparing; additional punctuation has been used where necessary to give the sense. Paragraphs have been created to break up the text.



The magpie. Magpies chatter, sounding like humans. The woodpecker.


Four young hoopoe, rhythmically placed in a roundel, clean the eyes and pluck the feathers of their ageing parent.


The illustration is pricked for pouncing. The splendid initial 'P' is type 3, introducing pica. This page is particularly dirty on the lower left margin, indicating frequent use. A possible sketch in the margin. Initial indicator 'P' at bottom left of illustration.



The woodpecker. If a woodpecker sits in a tree, anything fixed to the tree will fall out. The Raven feeds its young well and eats the eyes from corpses.


Four elegant magpies sit in a tree where an archer attempts to shoot them. Portrait of a black raven.


The significance of the hunter attempting to shoot them, not mentioned in the text, is not known. The same image is used in the Ashmole Bestiary f.48v and Oxford, Bod. MS Douce 151. The hunter and raven have been faintly pricked for pouncing. Initial type 2.