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A fragment of an early-tenth-century Anglo-Saxon manuscript and its significance

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  26 September 2008


Cambridge, Magdalene College, Pepys Library 2981 is a large album which Pepys described as ‘My Calligraphical Collection vol. 1’. It contains ‘Original Proofs of Antient Hand-Writing English & Forreign between the Years 700 & 1500’ in the form of fragments from manuscripts pasted down firmly on each of the album's paper pages. Notes are written round the margins of the pages and incorporate ‘the Opinion of that Eminent Critick in re Diplomaticâ, our Country-Man Mr Humphrey Wanley of Oxford, touching the different Ages, Characters & Countrys of ye said Pieces, in Return to my Enquiries from him on that behalf’.

Research Article
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1983

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1 Bibliotheca Pepysiana. A Descriptive Catalogue of the Library of Samuel Pepys 111: James, M. R., Medieval Manuscripts (London, 1923), p. 116Google Scholar; the fragment is listed Gneuss, H., ‘A Preliminary List of Manuscripts Written or Owned in England up to 1100’, ASE 9 (1980), 160, at 12 (no. 127)Google Scholar. Pepys's description is taken from the title-page and pp. 1 and 3 of the manuscript. I am grateful to Miss Jennifer Morrish, who drew my attention to the handwriting of the fragment by providing me with a photograph of it, and to Dr Michael Lapidge for his advice concerning the history of Martianus’ text in England. I am also grateful to Mr C. J. E. Ball, Professor T. J. Brown, the late Dr N. R. Ker, Dr A. G. Watson and Mr C. P. Wormald for comments and suggestions. I am solely responsible for the views expressed.

2 Remigii Autissiodorensis Commentum in Martianum Capellam, ed. Lutz, C. E., 2 vols. (Leiden, 1962) 1, 209–10Google Scholar. The manuscript is not listed among those containing Remigius' commentary on Martianus in Catalogus Translationum et Commentariorum, Med. and Renaissance Latin Translations and Commentaries 2 (Washington, D.C., 1971), 367–81.Google Scholar

3 Courcelle, P., La Consolation de la Philosophie dans la tradition littéraire (Paris, 1967), pp. 254–8Google Scholar. Courcelle's argument was used in an attempt to date Remigius’ commentary on Boethius (ibid. 243–4 and 267–9). The most recent criticism of Courcelle's approach to the problem of dating commentaries is by Wittig, J., ‘King Alfred's Boethius and its Latin Sources: a Reconsideration’, ASE 11 (1982), 157–98, at 159–60Google Scholar; and there is a convenient summary account of the earlier literature in the debate by Godden, M., ‘King Alfred's Boethius’, Boethius: his Life, Thought and Influence, ed. Margaret, Gibson (Oxford, 1981), pp. 419–24.Google Scholar

4 The text of the fragment differs from that preserved in what is currently accepted as the best surviving witness: London, British Library, Royal 15. A. xxxiii, which was copied at Rheims, s. xin. (See also below, n. 63.)

5 For detailed discussion of this scriptorium and the arguments for its location in Winchester see Parkes, M. B., ‘The Palaeography of the Parker Manuscript of the Chronicle, Laws and Sedulius, and Historiography at Winchester in the Late Ninth and Tenth Centuries’, ASE 5 (1976), 149–71.Google Scholar

6 See Knowles, D. and Hadcock, R. N., Medieval Religious Houses in England and Wales (London, 1971), pp. 80–1 and 268Google Scholar, for references to literary sources; Biddle, M., ‘Felix urbs Wintbonia: Winchester in the Age of Monastic Reform’, Tenth-Century Studies, ed. Parsons, D. (London, 1975). pp. 123–40Google Scholar. esp. 127–8.

7 See Birch, W. de Gray, An Ancient Manuscript of the Eighth or Ninth Century formerly belonging to St Mary's Abbey, or Nunnaminster, Winchester, Hampshire Record Soc. (London and Winchester, 1889)Google Scholar; Lowe, E. A., Codices Latini Antiquiores (Oxford, 19341972) 11, no. 199Google Scholar. On the date of the manuscript see now Morrish, J. J., ‘An Examination of Literacy and Learning in England in the Ninth Century’ (unpubl. D.Phil. dissertation, Oxford Univ., 1982), esp. pp. 202–17.Google Scholar

8 Another specimen of this scribe's work has recently come to light in a fragment preserved as London, Public Record Office SP 46/125, fol. 302 (see above, pp. 125–8 and pl. 1). This specimen represents an earlier stage in the development of this scribe's handwriting, and is less well formed than the specimen in the Book of Nunnaminster. The text of the formulae in the Book of Nunnaminster is ptd Birch, , An Ancient Manuscript, p. 97.Google Scholar

9 Listed Sawyer, P. H., Anglo-Saxon Charters: an Annotated List and Bibliography (London, 1968), no. 1560Google Scholar; it is ptd Birch, , An Ancient Manuscript, p. 96.Google Scholar

10 The possibility of this identification was suggested to me several years ago by the late Dr N. R. Ker: cf. Ker, N. R., Catalogue of Manuscripts containing Anglo-Saxon (Oxford, 1957), pp. 308–9 (no. 237) and p. lix.Google Scholar

11 The points of identity are the forms of the cedilla on e, the letters g and y, the angle of the ascender on d, and the form, duct and position of the ‘7’-shaped sign for ond. The principal differences between the two hands are the size and currency, and the absence of feet on the minims in the entry of the bounds.

12 Birch, , An Ancient Manuscript, pp. 32–3 and 96Google Scholar; Biddle, , ‘Felix urbs Winthonia’, pp. 127–8Google Scholar; see also Biddle, M. and Hill, D., ‘Late-Saxon Planned Towns’, AntJ 51 (1971), 7088, esp. 73–4.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

13 It seems to have been a fairly common practice in the early Middle Ages for nuns to act as copyists. Finds of styli, and what is presumably an instrument for pricking before ruling, among feminine debris on the site of the Anglo-Saxon monastery at Whitby indicate that book production was one of the activities of the female members of that community (see Cramp, R. J., ‘Monastic Sites’, The Archaeology of Anglo-Saxon England, ed. Wilson, D. M. (London, 1976), pp. 229 and 456)Google Scholar. English nuns copied books for Boniface (see S. Bonifatii et Lullii Epistolae, ed. Tangl, M., Monumenta Germaniae Historica (hereafter MGH), Epist. select. 1 (Berlin, 1916), nos. 30 and 35)Google Scholar. For instances on the continent see esp. the Vita Bertilae, ed. Levison, W., MGH, Script, rer. Meroving. 6 (Hanover, 1913), 107Google Scholar; and Bischoff, B., ‘Die Kölner Nonnenhandschriften und das Skriptorium von Chelles’, Mittelalterliche Studien, 3 vols. (Stuttgart, 19661981) 1, 1634Google Scholar, as well as the evidence of the literary activities of nuns in the tenth century cited by Grundmann, H., ‘Die Frauen und die Literatur im Mittelalter’, Archiv fur Kulturgeschichte 26 (1944), 129–61, esp. 134–5.Google Scholar

14 William, of Malmesbury, , Gesta Pontificum, ed. Hamilton, N. E. S. A., Rolls Ser. (London, 1870), p. 174.Google Scholar

15 Parkes, ‘Palaeography of the Parker Manuscript’, pp. 155–6.

16 ibid. p. 158 and n. 3.

17 ibid. p. 161.

18 ibid. pp. 159–62.

21 In camena in line 16, fracta in line 28, and ferat in line 27.

22 E.g. in cessante and posse in line 21 (contrast posse with ss ligature in the same line).

23 E.g. in sequentium in line 11 and simplicis in line 22 (contrast simplicis in line 25 and scottus in line 24).

24 It occurs eight times: the most obvious examples are simplici in line 4 and simplicis in line 25.

25 In figmentis in line 23 and uenustati in line 28.

26 E.g., in sequentium in line 11, satira in line 16 and locutionis in line 26.

27 Cf. scribe 1 of the Parker manuscript of the Chronicle (facsimile The Parker Chronicle and Laws, ed. Flower, R. and Smith, H., EETS o.s. 208 (London, 1941Google Scholar; repr. 1973)) and the additions to the Sedulius (facsimile in Bishop, T. A. M., ‘An Early Example of the Square Minuscule’, Trans. of the Cambridge Bibliographical Soc. 4 (19641968), 246–52Google Scholar, pl. xix (a)), and the second hand of the Trinity Isidore (facsimile in ibid. pl. xix (b)).

28 Compare, e.g., palestinam in line 10 of Bishop, ‘An Early Example’, pl. xix (b) (from the second hand of the Trinity manuscript) with posse in line 21 of the Pepys fragment; or principes in line 2 of Bishop, pl. xix (b) and pudica in line 10 of Bishop, pl. xix (a) (from the addition to the Sedulius) with parte in line 8 of the Pepys fragment.

29 Compare, e.g., rursus in line 12 of Bishop, ‘An Early Example’, pl. xix (a) (from the Sedulius) with ludicrares in line 9 of the Pepys fragment; or uiriles in line 3 of Bishop, pl. xix (a) with parat in line 16 of the Pepys fragment.

30 Cf. the Parker Chronicle, 18r2 east and 18r3 þœt (scribe 2) and 21v4 œt pitham (scribe 3), with ponitur and et in line 9 of the Pepys fragment.

31 Cf. Parker Chronicle, 10v14 (pybling pybba) and Bishop, ‘An Early Example’, pl. xix (b), line 3 (assyriorum) with mytos in line 1 of the Pepys fragment.

32 Compare, e.g., the different forms of the common mark of abbreviation in the annal for 755 in the Parker Chronicle, 10r.

33 This correcting hand is illustrated in Parkes, ‘Palaeography of the Parker Manuscript’, pl. VI.

34 Compare, e.g., Parker Chronicle, 17r19 (eall), nullo in line 2 of the addition in the inner margin of 54r of the Trinity Isidore, with illi in line 7, intellegis in line 12 and appollinis in line 14 of the Pepys fragment. The only other hand which exhibits this feature, but much less frequently, is that responsible for Cambridge, Corpus Christi College 183 and part of London, British Library, Royal 7. D. xxiv: see Warner, G. F. and Gilson, J. P., Catalogue of Western Manuscripts in the Old Royal and King's Collections in the British Museum, 4 vols. (London, 1921) ivGoogle Scholar, pl. 54 (a) (sollertia in line 8); on the identity of the scribe see Bishop, ‘An Early Example’, p. 247.

35 See Bishop, ‘An Early Example’.

36 See Willis, J. A., ‘The Letters M and G in the Manuscripts of Remigius of Auxerre’, Athenæum n.s. 30 (1952), 196–7.Google Scholar

37 As, e.g., in Oxford, Bodleian Library, Digby 63, where they appear alongside Insular ones: see Lindsay, W. M., Notae Latinae (Cambridge, 1912).Google Scholar

38 As in line 9; cf. Lindsay, Notae Latinae, §12.

39 As in line 29, and in percipis in line 12, superfluo in line 18 and perornari in line 25; cf. Lindsay, Notae Latinae, §230.

40 As in locuntur in line 1, ponitur in line 9 and exornantur in line 23; cf. Lindsay, Notae Latinae, §468.

41 As in contra in line 31, contemptibili in line 9, consequatur in line 13 and consuetudinem in line 22; cf. Lindsay, Notae Latinae, §§37 and 417.

42 E.g., before qui in line 2, Nam in line 3, sobrias in line 7 and Et in line 27.

43 E.g., the use of the diple to indicate quotations from the Fathers by Ratramnus: see the facsimile of the autograph manuscript (Ghent, Universiteitsbibliotheek, 909), De Corpore et Sanguine Domini, ed. Brink, J. N. Bakhuizen van den, Verhandelingen der Koninklijke Nederlandse Akademie van Wetenschappen, Afd. Letterkunde n.s. 61 (Amsterdam, 1954).Google Scholar

44 E.g., in the manuscript from Rheims (Cambridge, Pembroke College 308) illustrated in New Palaeographical Soc., Facsimiles of Ancient Manuscripts, 1st ser. (London 19031912), pl. 236.Google Scholar

45 In the hand of the scribe who produced the Tollemache Orosius, the Junius Psalter and Cambridge, Corpus Christi College 173, 16v–21r: see Parkes, ‘Palaeography of the Parker Manuscript’, p. 157, n.1, and pp. 158–9; see also Bishop, ‘An Early Example’, p. 248; cf. Ker, , Catalogue, pp. 57–9 (no. 39).Google Scholar

46 Facsimiles of the Junius Psalter in Temple, E., Anglo-Saxon Manuscripts 900–1066 (London, 1976), pls. 1, 20–4 and 25Google Scholar. (The reservations expressed in the review article by Brownrigg, Linda, ‘Manuscripts containing English Decoration 871–1066, Catalogued and Illustrated: a Review’, ASE 7 (1978), 239–66Google Scholar, are of crucial importance.)

47 Facsimiles of Cambridge, Trinity College 368 in Bishop, ‘An Early Example’, pls. xviii (a) and (b) and xix (b).

48 Facsimiles of the additions to the Sedulius are reproduced in Bishop, ‘An Early Example’, pl. xix (a) and Parkes, ‘Palaeography of the Parker Manuscript’, pl. V.

49 See above, p. 134.

50 E.g., Cambridge, Corpus Christi College 183 (Ker, Catalogue, no. 42) produced between 934 and 942 (illustrated by Temple, Anglo-Saxon Manuscripts, pl. 18); London, British Library, Royal 7. D. xxiv (facsimile in Warner and Gilson, Catalogue of Royal Manuscripts iv, pl. 54 (a), part of which is by the same scribe; the additions to the ‘Athelstan Psalter’ (now London, British Library, Cotton Galba A. xviii), which were probably made in the Old Minster to which Athelstan gave the manuscript (see Bishop, Edmund, Liturgica Historica (Oxford, 1918), p. 141Google Scholar, n. 1 (facsimiles in Watson, A. G., Catalogue of Dated & Datable Manuscripts c. 700–1600 in the Department of Manuscripts, the British Library (London, 1979), pl. 13))Google Scholar; London, British Library, Royal 2. B. v, written perhaps at Winchester (Ker, Catalogue, no. 249); and the other manuscript by the same scribe, London, British Library, Royal 4. A. xiv (Ker, Catalogue, no. 250; facsimiles in Warner and Gilson, Catalogue of Royal Manuscripts iv, pls. 22 and 34); the minuscule in Cambridge, Trinity College 379 (Hrabanus Maurus) and Boulogne-sur-Mer, Bibliothèque Municipale 82 (Amalarius; facsimiles in Temple, Anglo-Saxon Manuscripts, pls. 101–2), which is partly in the hand of the same scribe. Temple's date for this last manuscript is too late; see Brownrigg, ‘Manuscripts containing English Decoration’, pp. 251 and 259, n. 4 (she is currently preparing a note on these two manuscripts).

51 E.g., in the documents relating to Great Bedwyn added to Berne, Burgerbibliothek 671. The last of these is in the hand responsible for Wulfgar's will datable between 931 and 939 (London, British Library, Cotton Charter viii. 16; listed by Sawyer, Anglo-Saxon Charters, no. 1533 and reproduced in Facsimiles of Ancient Charters in the British Museum, ed. Bond, E. A., 4 vols. (London, 18731878) 111, 3).Google Scholar

52 See Jones, C. W., Bedae Opera de Temporibus (Cambridge, Mass., 1943), p. 10Google Scholar; Ogilvy, J. D. A., Books Known to the English 597–1066 (Cambridge, Mass., 1967), p. 4Google Scholar; and Stahl, W., Johnson, R. and Burge, E. L., Martianus Capella and the Seven Liberal Arts, 2 vols. (New York, 1971) 1, 61.Google Scholar

53 See Löfstedt, B., ‘Zu Tatwines Grammatik’, Arctos 7 (1972), 4765Google Scholar; idem, ‘Weitere Bemerkungen zu Tatwines Grammatik’, Acta Classica 15 (1972), 8594, esp. 94.Google Scholar

54 The grammar known as Anonymus ad Cuimnanum used Martianus Capella (see Taeger, B., ‘Exzerpte aus Martianus Capella in einer frühen hibernolateinischen Grammatik (Anonymus ad Cuimnanum)’, BGDSL 100 (1978), 388420)Google Scholar. On the possibility that this work may be by an Anglo-Saxon see Law, V., The Insular Latin Grammarians (Woodbridge, 1982), pp. 87–9.Google Scholar

55 On the growth of interest in Martianus Capella in the ninth century see Leonardi, C., ‘I codici di Marziano Capella’, Aevum 33 (1959), 433–89Google Scholar; ibid. 34 (1960), 1–99 and 411–524; Laistner, M. L. W., ‘Martianus Capella and his Ninth-Century Commentators’, Bull. of the John Rylands Lib. 9 (1925), 130–8CrossRefGoogle Scholar; and Préaux, J., ‘Le Commentaire de Martin de Lâon sur l'oeuvre de Martianus Capella’, Latomus 12 (1953), 437–59.Google Scholar

56 See Glauche, G., ‘Die Rolle der Schulautoren im Unterricht von 800 bis 1100’, Settimane di studio del Centro Italiano di studi sull' Alto Medioevo 19 (1972), 617–36, esp. 621–4Google Scholar; E. Jeauneau, ‘Les Écoles de Lâon et d'Auxerre au ixe siècle’, ibid. 495–560; Contreni, J. J., ‘Three Carolingian Texts Attributed to Lâon: Reconsiderations’, SM 3rd ser. 17 (1976), 797813Google Scholar; idem, The Cathedral School of Lâon from 850–930: its Manuscripts and Masters (Munich, 1978)Google Scholar; and Leonardi, C. ‘Glosse eriugeniane a Marziano Capella in un codice leidense’, Jean Scot Erigène et l'histoire de la philosophic (Paris, 1977), pp. 171–82.Google Scholar

57 Lutz, C. E., ‘The Commentary of Remigius of Auxerre on Martianus Capella’, MS 19 (1957), 137–56.Google Scholar

58 Remigii Commentum, ed. Lutz, 1, 7.Google Scholar

59 Flodoard, , Historia Remensis Ecclesiae iv.9 (ed. Heller, J. and Waitz, G., MGH, Scriptores 13 (Hanover, 1881), 574, lines 39 ff.).Google Scholar

60 See above, p. 130.

61 Grierson, P., ‘Grimbald of St Bertin's’, EHR 55 (1940), 529–61, esp. 547 and 554.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

62 Lutz, (Remigii Commentum 1, 7 and n. 9Google Scholar) argued that Remigius went to Rheims in 883; but according to Jacobsen, P. C. (Flodoard von Reims, Mittellateinische Studien und Texte 10 (Leiden, 1978), p. 6Google Scholar) the date 893 assigned by Mabillon to Remigius’ arrival must stand, since Lutz based her argument on an undatable document.

63 Note that the manuscript witness to Remigius' commentary mentioned above, n. 4 – BL Royal 15. A. xxxiii, which was copied at Rheims s. xin – was at Worcester already in the Anglo-Saxon period.

64 See Troncarelli, F., ‘Per una ricerca sui commend alti medievali al De Consolatione di Boe2io’, Miscellanea in memoria di G. Cencetti (Turin, 1973), pp. 363–80Google Scholar; idem, Tradizioni perdute: la ‘Consolatio Philosophiae’ nell' alto medioevo (Padua, 1981), pp. 4, 37, 59, 114, 141–5Google Scholar and pls. XIII–XVI; Bolton, D. K., ‘The Study of the Consolation of Philosophy in Anglo-Saxon England’, Archives d'histoire doctrinale et littéraire du moyen âge 44 (1977), 3378Google Scholar; and Parkes, M. B., ‘A Note on MS Vatican, Bibl. apost. lat. 3363’, Boethius, ed. Gibson, , pp. 425–7Google Scholar.

65 Parkes, ‘A Note on Vatican lat. 3363’, p. 426.

66 See Bishop, T. A. M., ‘The Corpus Martianus Capella’, Trans. of the Cambridge Bibliographical Soc. 4 (19641968), 257–75Google Scholar. Æthelwold gave a copy of a Commentum Martiani to Peterborough: see Sawyer, Anglo-Saxon Charters, no. 1448; text in Robertson, A. J., Anglo-Saxon Charters (Cambridge, 1939), p. 72 (no. 39)Google Scholar. Martianus also occurs in a list of books added on 189v of Oxford, Bodleian Library, Tanner 3 at the end of the eleventh century. The list is printed by Bannister, H. M., ‘Bishop Roger of Worcester and the Church of Keynsham’, EHR 32 (1917), 387–93CrossRefGoogle Scholar. Bannister's dating, and his attribution of this list to Worcester are no longer accepted; see E. A. McIntyre, ‘Early-Twelfth-Century Worcester Cathedral Priory with Special Reference to the Manuscripts Copied There’ (unpubl. D.Phil. dissertation, Oxford Univ., 1978), esp. pp. 87–9.

67 Asser's Life of King Alfred, ed. Stevenson, W. H. (Oxford, 1959), p. 58 (ch. 75, line 20).Google Scholar

68 Ibid. 94–5 (ch. 106, lines 56–8).

69 See further J. J. Morrish, ‘An Examination of Literacy and Learning’, and her article ‘King Alfred's Letter as a Source on Learning in England in the Ninth Century’ in Studies in Earlier Old English Prose, ed. Szarmach, P. (forthcoming).Google Scholar

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