Librarians got a surprise recently when they opened a rare Tudor manuscript only to find a half-eaten biscuit stuck inside.
The greasy pages stunned staff and academics at Cambridge University who believe a clumsy schoolboy dropped a chocolate chip cookie while reading the book over 50 years ago.
The manuscript dates back almost 500 years and was gifted to the university by a grammar school in 1970.
The 1529 volume from the complete works of St Augustine is stored inside the university’s rare books archive, where no food, drink or even pens are allowed.
Emily Dourish, deputy keeper of rare books and early manuscripts, discovered the cookie: “It was probably a schoolboy looking at the book over 50 years ago who then accidentally dropped a biscuit and it was forgotten about.”
“When we received the book, somebody will have had a brief look at it, then stored it away. Nobody has properly looked at it since.”
“I was stunned. When we gave it to our conservationist, his jaw dropped.”
Restorers were able to remove the decaying “dry and crumbly” biscuit, but it has left a greasy stain on the page.
The university’s special collections library tweeted:
“For future reference, we have acid-free paper to mark your place. Please don’t use baked goods.”