The fifth-century Italian manuscript of Jerome's Commentary on Ecclesiastes, Würzburg, Universitätsbibliothek, M. p. th. q. 2, which M. Adriaen takes as the base of his recent edition, is interesting to English scholars on various counts. On ir it bears a very early Old English inscription, in Anglo-Saxon majuscule which Lowe and Bischoff date c. 700:
(‘a book of Cuthswith the abbess’). In all probability this was written in England itself rather than at an Anglo-Saxon centre on the continent, in view of the chronology of the English missions. The commentary is in ‘a beautiful bold uncial of the oldest type’, but six leaves of the manuscript's original 114 (fols. 10, 13, 63, 68, 81 and 82) were replaced by leaves of a thicker parchment, in England according to Lowe and Bischoff. It is not known why this was necessary, nor where the text was taken from. Lowe dates the writing of these later leaves to the seventh century. He observes that they were ‘written, if one may judge from the syllable-by-syllable copying, by a scribe for whom Latin was an alien tongue and who was not completely sure of his uncial characters’. D. H. Wright remarks that their example of an English scribe ‘doing his unequal best to reproduce the unfamiliar letter forms’ is not a very helpful illustration of the relationship of English uncial to Italian models, ‘for the script he writes has no style of its own, and therefore no future’. The main interest of the manuscript in the history of English uncial is as an illustration of foreign models which were available; it is, in Lowe's words, ‘the oldest extant uncial manuscript that was at hand to serve as a model in an English scriptorium’.