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The Book of Cerne

The Book of Cerne

Mercia, possibly Lichfield, ninth century (circa 818-30?)
MS Ll.1.10

A book of private prayers and devotions, including Gospel Passion extracts, hymns and prayers (Roman and Celtic), an abridged Psalter and an apocryphal Harrowing of Hell. Shown here is the opening of the passage from St Luke, facing the evangelist who appears in a roundel above his symbol, the Ox.

An acrostic poem on the preceding page spells out the name Aedelwald epicopus, who has been identified with Bishop Aethelwald of Lichfield (818-30) as patron of the book, although other, earlier Aethelwalds have been suggested. The book is now bound with later material relating to Cerne Abbas in Dorset, hence the name, although there is no evidence that the early book was ever there.

From the Royal Library, 1715.

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