There is no satisfactory way of analysing an antiquarian stock of books by subject or genre. However, it is possible to instance some areas of unusual richness, and these areas are outlined on this page.

Information about Roderic Bowen Library and Archives' material of relevance to specific courses offered at the University of Wales Trinity Saint David will be found in following subsections. The entire stock of the Roderic Bowen Library and Archives is searchable on the Learning Resources Catalogue.  


Classical literature is amply represented by texts printed through five centuries, the collections of Thomas Phillips and Bishop Burgess largely contributing to this happy circumstance. Aristotle is well to the fore, and there are fine illustrated editions of Terence. Supporting antiquarian albums by Adam, Wood and Dawkins, Montfaucon and others consolidate the presentation of classical heritage. A particular high point are the Piranesi volumes. The image shown here is from Piranesi's Antiquities of Rome.


English and, to a lesser extent, French literature is represented by a number of interesting editions. If there are no Shakespeare quartos or folios, there are nevertheless other notable editions ranging from Steevens to Boydell and including illustrations by Cardigan-born JKMeadows. There are two copies of the 1561 edition of Chaucer (one with a unique imprint), and three incomplete editions of Holinshed's Chronicles (1548). Bibliophiles will note such treasures as the first edition of Gulliver's Travels (1726) and the Bensley edition of Young's Night Thoughts illustrated by Blake.


British history is represented by several early classic works, and the topography of Britain comes well to the fore - Camden's Britania, for instance, appears not only in the octavos of the late sixteenth century but also in the folios of the succeeding English language editions of Philemon Holland, Edmund Gibson and Richard Gough. There are several notable county histories from Kilburne's Kent and Plot's Oxford to the Brayley and Britton set of Beauties of England and Wales -mostly in original blue-wrappered subscription parts. A northen dimension is epitomised by such seminal works as Gordon's Itinerarium septentrionale (1726), a Venetian edition (1565) of Olaus Magnus, and Rudbeck's Atlantica (1679).


The Silver Age of exploration and travel (largely a reflection of Thomas Phillips' collecting) is one of the subject highlights of the Roderic Bowen Library and Archives. Cook, Vancouver, La Perouse, Cartaret, Pallas, Humboldt, Denham, Dalrymple, Clapperton, Ross, Parry, Franklin, Bruce, Burton and Menon are some of the more famed names in the collection. The image shown here is from Ross.

 Atlases, for example those of Strabo, Ptolemy, Ortelius, and Mercator, and works containing important maps such as Munster's Cosmographia Universelle are to be found, and some of these are highly specialised in a regional context, for example Jeffrey's West-India Atlas (1775) and Chauchard's Empire of Germany (1800). Speed, Blome. Ogilby, Morden, Kitchin, Cary, Arrowsmith, Stockdale, Dix and Darton are names indicative of the Roderic Bowen Library and Archive's holdings. The image shown here is from Mercato and depicts Mercator with Ortelius.


The history of science is chronicled by holdings of early editions of Galen, Euclid, Pliny, Gesner, Paracelsus, Hooke and Boyle. Works of natural history are particularly well represented, seventeenth and eighteenth century herbals and floras being a feature. The earliest herbal is the Macer Floridus (Geneva, 1498). Early ninteenth century geological literatue (often, seemingly, bought by clerics) is an interesting sub-group crowned by Murchison's elegant Silurian System. The image here is from Hooke's Micrographia.

The Celtic World 

The Celtic world is naturally a principle interest, topographical works relating to Wales being prominent. Language dictionaries are present too, from the seminal Dictionarium Duplx (1632) and Lhuyd's Archaeologia (1707) to dictionaries of Gaelic, Irish, Breton and Cornish.

A highlight of the Roderic Bowen Library and Archives' holdings is the collection of some 800 nineteenth century Welsh ballads purchased in 1904 as part of the Cenarth Collection which formed part of the former St Davids College Welsh Library.