Historical Context and Implications

Although the original design of the Ripley Scroll reflects ideas and practices current in late 15th-century England, this design did not remain stable over time. By the end of the 17th century, practitioners had adopted new approaches to alchemy, nature, and experiment — and their reading of the Scrolls also changed. Later copies reflect the interests and priorities of new generations of readers, who valued these emblematic manuscripts both as historical artefacts, and as keys to an earlier, medieval tradition of English alchemy.