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In 1454, or thereabouts, an English doctor named Richard of Lincoln (about whom nothing else is known, and who may have had another surname) wrote a short but fascinating book on medical science as it then stood. The volume, which has no proper title, runs to nearly fifty pages, and is written almost entirely in English, which is very rare for medical and scientific texts of this period. It contains what seems to be intended as a comprehensive survey of the practice of medicine, covering physical and spiritual treatments.

Among the contents are sections on mathematics, astronomy, astrology, the calendar, diagnostic methods and healthy living. The illustrations include diagrams of 'the zodiac man' and 'the vein man', used to assist in the then-current methods of diagnosis, and assorted calendar tables and other charts. Another remarkable section gives a description of a pilgrimage to Jerusalem from London, giving details of places to visit along the way. Although not attributed, this section appears likely to be based on the personal testimony of someone who made the trip. Aside from the alleged spiritual benefits of such a pilgrimage, it would also be seen as having a direct and positive bearing on the pilgrim's physical health.

The volume came into the news recently when Baroness Tessa Blackstone, the UK Minister of State for the Arts, placed a temporary ban on the work's export in order to allow time for money to be raised to keep it in Britain. The recommended price was then £210 000.

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