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Overview of the collection

In the context of manuscript studies, the term ‘Anglo-Saxon’ has been used by scholars as a means of grouping together either:

i. manuscripts that specifically contain Old English, and thus primarily copied within England before 1066 but potentially as late as the 12th century (N.R. Ker, Catalogue of Manuscripts containing Anglo-Saxon (rev. edn., 1990));

or, more expansively:

ii. manuscripts written or owned in England up to 1100, regardless of language or place of origin (H. Gneuss & M. Lapidge, Anglo-Saxon Manuscripts: A Bibliographical Handlist of Manuscripts and Manuscript Fragments Written or Owned in England up to 1100 (2014)).

Old English was the vernacular language of this country prior to and in the immediate aftermath of the Norman Conquest.  Far fewer manuscripts from the 11th century or earlier survive from England than from the continent; forming only a small proportion of this corpus, Old English manuscripts are therefore exceptionally scarce.

Cambridge University Library holds 19 manuscripts written wholly or in part in Old English, or which contain smaller quantities of text in the vernacular, as glosses or annotations.  Aside from a 19th-century tracing of part of a manuscript later destroyed by fire, these range in date from the 730s to the 12th/13th century.  A further 23 manuscripts or manuscript fragments at the University Library were either written or owned in England prior to 1100.  So far, 13 Anglo-Saxon manuscripts have been digitised, with the images and detailed metadata being published on the Cambridge Digital Library (links given in the table below). 

Anglo-Saxon manuscripts occupy an important position within our Western collections, as some of the oldest and most valuable witnesses to Insular literate culture and history in existence, and they remain the subject of intense study by scholars from around the world.  The majority are concentrated today in three collections: at the British Library, the Bodleian Library, and Corpus Christi College, Cambridge.  Though fewer in number, the Anglo-Saxon manuscripts at Cambridge University Library are among the next largest holdings and constitute a significant collection in their own right.  The group comprises some manuscripts of outstanding textual importance: for instance, MS Kk.5.16 (commonly referred to as ‘the Moore Bede’), which is the earliest datable copy of Bede’s Historia ecclesiastica, made at the author's home monastery and within a few years of his death, and from which the majority of continental copies of the chronicle ultimately descend.  There are important witnesses to the dissemination and mediation of the Scriptures in England: MS Kk.1.24, a fragmentary 8th-century Gospel Book from Northumbria; or MS Ff.1.23, a mid-11th-century bilingual Psalter in Latin and Old English.  Others attest to Insular artistic styles: such as MS Ll.1.10, the ‘Book of Cerne’, made in Mercia around the second quarter of the 9th century.

Significantly, the collections at Cambridge University Library relate to those elsewhere in important ways.  A manuscript of alliterative verse about Durham and its relics, MS Ff.1.27, is now split between the University Library and Corpus Christi College, Cambridge (where it is MS 66); both parts had previously been owned by Matthew Parker.  Several documents were copied into MS Kk.1.24 after it came into the possession of the monks of Ely; the leaf bearing these documents was later removed and divded in two, and the pieces are now at the British Library (Cotton MS Tiberius B v and Sloane MS 1044, f. 2).  Similarly, several leaves from a West-Saxon translation of the Gospels, made in the late 11th/early 12th centuries in Exeter, remain part of the ‘Exeter Book’ in the Cathedral Library; the main part of the manuscript is MS Ii.2.11.  Conversely, the University Library holds a leaf containing glosses in Old English to Aldhelm’s De laude virginitatis (MS Add. 3330); other fragments survive at the Beinecke Library at Yale University, the British Library, the Bodleian Library and other locations.

All of Cambridge University Library's Anglo-Saxon manuscripts were acquired after the end of the medieval period.  The first tranche of seven manuscripts were donated by Matthew Parker, Archbishop of Canterbury, as part of a larger gift totalling 25 manuscripts (for further details of this and some of what follows, see the Early Catalogues subject guide) (MSS Ff.1.27, Hh.1.10, Ii.1.33, Ii.2.4, Ii.2.11, Ii.4.6, Kk.3.18).  Another came from Parker indirectly, via Nicholas Bacon, Keeper of the Great Seal (MS Ff.1.23).  Thomas James's Ecloga Oxonio-Cantabrigiensis, published 1600, records the arrival of five further manuscripts, at least one through the agency of Andrew Perne, Master of Peterhouse and Vice-Chancellor (MS Kk.1.24).  Three others came via the gift of Richard Holdsworth in the mid-17th century (MSS Ff.4.42, Ff.4.43 and Gg.4.28).  The largest single group, of ten manuscripts, were given to the Library in 1715 by George I as part of the 'Royal Library', having previously been part of the collection of John Moore, bishop of Ely.  A few others arrived by various routes, some clearer than others.  A few scraps, single leaves or binding waste were purchased or given to the Library in the 19th and early 20th centuries.

Anglo-Saxon Manuscripts at the University Library

Where a digitised version of the manuscript is available on the Cambridge Digital Library, a hyperlink is provided in the manuscript classmark.

This list is derived from those compiled by Ker (1990) and Gneuss (2014).  Under Origin/Provenance, Gneuss's conventions have been followed:

- place-name (unmarked) = origin.

- 'prov.' + place-name = provenance before 1100.

- ('prov. + place-name) = provenance after 1100.

- 'prob' / ? - probable / uncertain

- provenance is listed in chronological order, where more than one location is known.

- * = text in Old English prose.

- ** = text in Old English alliterative verse.

+* = text in Latin, accompanied by a prose version in Old English; or a Latin-Old English glossary.

- ° = Latin text with a continuous Old English interlinear gloss, or having substantial sections, or a fairly large number of words, glossed in Old English.

- (f) = only minor fragments of a text are preserved.

Classmark Date Ker (1990) Gneuss (2014) Origin / Provenance Contents
Dd.2.7 s. xi ex.      2.5 Christ Church, Canterbury Jerome, Epistulae; pseudo-Jerome, Epistulae suppositiae
Ee.1.23, ff. 1-69 s. xi/xii   2.8   Paschasius Radbertus, De assumptione B.V.M.; Ephraem Syrus, six sermones (in Latin translation).

s. x med.  

  3 W or SW England? (Glastonbury?) Smaragdus of Saint-Mihiel, Expositio in Regulam S. Benedicti

s. x/xi or xi in. or xi2/4 or xi med.

13 4 Ramsey? Canterbury? Prayers (add. s. xi med. or xi2); Psalterium Romanum°; canticles°; litany; prayers and benedictions
Ff.1.27, pp. 1-40, 73-252  s. xii ex. 14   (prov. Cistercian Abbey of Sawley) Verses 'De situ Dunelmi' **
Ff.2.33, ff. i, ii, vi, vii s. xi ex.   5 Bury St Edmunds Concilium Africanum (f)
Ff.3.9 s. xi ex.   6 Christ Church, Canterbury Hiezechiel (excerpt); Gregory, homiliae in Hiezechielem
Ff.4.42 s. ix2 and x   7 prov. s. x/xi W. England Three brief prose texts; hymn, s. x; Iuvencus, Euangelia, s. ix2, with Welsh, Irish and Latin glosses, s. x1, and Latin glosses, s. x/xi; Welsh verses, s. x1; grammatical notes; sequence; poems (partly illegible), s. ix2
Ff.4.43 s. x4/4   8 Christ Church, Canterbury Smaragdus of Saint-Mihiel, Diadema monachorum
Ff.5.27, f. 1 s. vii/viii   9 Monkwearmouth-Jarrow Psalterium Romanum (f)
Gg.3.28  s. x/xi 15 11 Cerne? (prov. Durham) Ælfric, Catholic Homilies (First and Second Series)*, De temporibus anni*; Pater noster*; Apostles' Creed; Niceno-Constantinopolitan Creed*; prayers*; Ælfric, De paenitentia*, Pastoral Letter I* (incomplete); Admonitions in Lent
Gg.4.15, ff. 1-108 s. xi/xii   11.5 (prov. Eynsham) Bede, Super Epistulas catholicas expositio
Gg.4.28 s. xi/xii   11.8   Jerome, Comm. in Prophetas minores (Osee, Amos, Ionas, Abdias, Micha, Naum); account of a libellus by Athanasius
Gg.5.35  s. xi med. 16 12 St Augustine's, Canterbury? (prov. ibid.) Iuvencus, Euangelia, with glosses; Sedulius, Carmen paschale, with glosses from commentary by Remigius; Sedulius, Hymni; poems on Sedulius; Arator, Historia apostolica, with glosses; poems on Arator; Prosper of Aquitaine, Epigrammata ex sententiis S. Augustini, preceded by prefatory poem; Prosper, Versus ad coniugem; Prudentius, Psychomachia, with glosses; Prudentius, Dittochaeon; Lactantius, De aue Phoenice; Boethius, De consolatione Philosophiae, with commentary by Remigius; Hrabanus Maurus, De laudibus S. Crucis; Hucbald of Saint-Amand, De harmonica institutione; Aldhelm, Carmen de uirginitate; Milo, Carmen de sobrietate; Fredegaud/Frithegod of Canterbury and Brioude, 'Ciues celestis patrie' (lapidary poem); Latin hymns and poems; Abbo of Saint-Germain-des-Prés, Bella Parisiacae urbis, bk. III; Hucbald of Saint-Amand, Ecloga de caluis; Eusebius, Aenigmata; Tatwine, Aenigmata; Boniface, Aenigmata; Symposius, Aenigmata; Aldhelm, Enigmata, with glosses; pseudo-Smaragdus (pseudo-Alcuin), two monitory poems for a prince; Versus (cuiusdam Scotti) de alphabetoDisticha Catonis; pseudo-Columbanus (pseudo-Alcuin), Praecepta uiuendi; Bede, Versus de die iudicii; Bede, Aenigmata; Oswald of Ramsey, Latin poem 'On composing verse'; Hisperic poems: Rubisca; Adelphus adelphe; Greek alphabet and prayers; Versus in Symbolum; medical verses and excerpts, mainly from pseudo-Soranus (Quaestiones medicinales) and 'Petrocellus' (Practica Petrocelli); Bibliotheca magnifica de sapientia; the 'Cambridge Songs' [50 Latin poems, 2 macaronic poems in mixed Latin and Old High German], incl. 27 extracts from the metres of Boethius, De consolatione Philosophiae, and seven Latin religious poems; poem by pseudo-Vergil
Hh.1.10  s.xi3/4 17 13 Exeter Ælfric, Grammar* and Glossary*
Ii.1.33   s. xii2 18     Ælfric, Homilies* and translations
Ii.2.1 s. xi/xii or xii in.   13.5 Christ Church, Canterbury Priscian, Institutiones grammaticae (bks. I-XVIII, incomplete), with gloss; Priscian (?), De accentibus (f)
Ii.2.4  s. xi3/4 19 14 Exeter Gregory (Alfred), Regula pastoralis*
Ii.2.11 s. xi3/4 20 15 Exeter records+* (s. xi/xii and later); inventory of Leofric's donations to Exeter*; donation inscription+*; gospels with pericope rubrics*; Gospel of Nicodemus*; vindicta Saluatoris
Ii.2.19, ff. 1-216 s. xi/xii   16 (prov. Norwich) Paulus Diaconus, Homiliarum (Easter vigil to fourth Sunday after Epiphany) [companion volume to Kk.4.13]
Ii.3.33, ff. 1-194 s. xi/xii   17 Christ Church, Canterbury De natiuitate S. Mariae; Gregory (?), Symbolum fidei; Gregory, Registrum epistularum (enlarged version); Conuersio Berengarii [from Gregory VII, Registrum VI.17a]
Ii.4.6 s. xi med. 21 18 Winchester New Minster, (prov. Tavistock) 36 Homilies* (mostly by Ælfric)
Ii.6.32  s. ix or more prob. s. x   19 prob. Scotland (or Ireland?), (prov.: Cistercian abbey of Deer, Aberdeenshire) Gospels (only parts of Matthew, Mark, Luke; John complete)
Kk.1.23, ff. 1-66 s. xi/xii   20 Christ Church, Canterbury Ambrose, Exameron
Kk.1.23, ff. 67-135 s. xi ex.   20.1 Christ Church, Canterbury Ambrose, De paenitentia; Augustine (?), De utilitate agendae paenitentiae; Augustine, De utilitate credendiDe fide et symboloAd inquisitiones Ianuarii, preceded by excerpts from Augustine, Retractiones; Augustine, Epistula cxxvii; pseudo-Augustine, Sermo clxxx; Augustine, De excidio urbis Romae; pseudo-Augustine, Sermo de fide (Sermo ccclxxxix); Augustine, Sermones cccl, cccxlvi-cccxlviii, cclix
Kk.1.24  s. viii 22 21 prob. Northumbria, prov. Ely s. x; s. x2, x/xi [records*] Gospels (Luke, John); records*
Kk.3.18 s. xi2 23 22 Worcester Bede, Historia ecclesiastica*
Kk.3.21 s. xi1 or xi med. 24 23 prob. Abingdon Boethius, De consolatione Philosophiae, with commentary [?by Remigius] (redaction K); two rota poems on the Assumption of the Virgin; names of the winds+*
Kk.4.13 s. xi/xii   24 (prov. Norwich) Paulus Diaconus, Homiliarum (Septuagesima to Easter vigil, Sanctorale) [companion volume to Ii.2.19]
Kk.5.16 c. or after 737 25 25 Northumbria, prov. Aachen s. viii ex. Bede, Historia ecclesiastica - ['The Moore Bede']
Kk.5.32, ff. 49-60 1012×1030, perhaps 1021×1022 26 26 St Augustine's, Canterbury?, prov. SW England s. xi2 (Glastonbury?) Liturgical calendar; computus material; excerpts from Byrhtferth, Enchiridion* (s. xi ex.)
Kk.5.32, ff. 61-72 + 76 s. xi/xii 26 26 W. England Dionysius Exiguus, Cyclus paschalis magnus, with added annals and obits; note on division derived from Byrhtferð's handbook*
Kk.5.34 s. x ex.   27 prob. Winchester Old Minster or New Minster, (prov. Glastonbury) Augustine, Quaestiones Euangeliorum; Ausonius, Ephemeris iii, Technopaegnion vi-xiv; three Anglo-Latin poems from Winchester; Remigius Favius (?), Carmen de ponderibus et mensuris; pseudo-Vergil, CulexAetna
Ll.1.10 s. 820×840 27 28 Mercia, prov. Worcester? (prov. Cerne?) Prayerbook: Exhortation to prayer* (f); gospel extracts; acrostic poem; 74 prayers and poems, including Lorica of Laidcenn mac Baith° and hymn by (pseudo?-)Hilarius; breviate psalter; Harrowing of Hell (liturgical drama?) - ['The Book of Cerne']
Ll.1.14, ff. 70-108 s. xi2 or xi ex.   29   Regula S. BenedictiMemoriale qualiterIndicium regulae [on use of hymns]; Capitulare monasticumAd clericum faciendum (pontifical ordo)
Mm.4.28 s. xii/xiii 28   (prov. Biddlesden Priory) Godric's prayer*
Add. 3206 s. xi2 11 30   Handbook for a confessor* (f); Wulfstan, Institutes of Polity* (f), 'Canons of Edgar'* (f)
Add. 3330  s. ix in. (or viii ex.?), OE glosses add. s. x2 12 857   Aldhelm, De uirginitate° (prose) (f)
Add. 4166(2) [tracing]  s. xi ex or xii1   30.3   Prayer*
Add. 4406(74) s. xi med.- xi3/4   30.4   Priscian, Institutiones grammaticae (f)
Add. 4543 s. x1 (prob. before 930) or x med. or later   30.5 Wales, prov. England s. x? (or in Wales throughout Middle Ages?) (Welsh) computus (f), calendar (f)
Add. 6000(40) s. xi/xii   30.8    
Add. 6220(14) s. xi1   30.7   Augustine, De Trinitate (f)
Add. 6220(69) s. xi/xii   30.7.2   Missal (f)


Useful resources

The open-shelf reference collection in the Manuscripts Reading Room contains a range of publications that are of particular use to those studying or conducting research on Anglo-Saxon manuscripts.  The following, by no means exhaustive, list provides the titles and shelfmarks of these resources, organised under headings that indicate their coverage or subject-matter.


Bibliographical works and lists of Anglo-Saxon manuscripts:

  • A100.533 - Helmut Gneuss and Michael Lapidge, Anglo-Saxon Manuscripts: A Bibliographical Handlist of Manuscripts and Manuscript Fragments Written or Owned in England up to 1100 (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2014).

This supersedes and expands upon the following, earlier publications:

  • Online article - Helmut Gneuss, 'A preliminary list of manuscripts written or owned in England up to 1100', Anglo-Saxon England, 9 (1981), 1-60.
  • A100.42 - Helmut Gneuss, Handlist of Anglo-Saxon Manuscripts: A List of Manuscripts and Manuscript Fragments Written or Owned in England up to 1100 (Tempe, AZ: ACMRS, 2001).
  • Online article - Helmut Gneuss, 'Addenda and corrigenda to the Handlist of Anglo-Saxon Manuscripts', Anglo-Saxon England, 32 (2003), 293-305.
  • Online article - Helmut Gneuss, 'Second addenda and corrigenda to the Handlist of Anglo-Saxon Manuscripts', Anglo-Saxon England, 40 (2011), 293-306.

A departmental bibliography, containing lists of publications that make specific reference to University Library manuscripts, is also maintained.  Its contents will be made available upon request at the Manuscripts Reading Room desk.  Plans to make this resource accessible to readers online are ongoing.


Descriptive catalogues:

This guide does not provide references to catalogues of every repository that holds Anglo-Saxon manuscripts, in the name of brevity and since these are most easily to be found via Gneuss's Handlist.  Instead, it points to thematic and particularly art-historical descriptive catalogues that deal exclusively or predominantly with manuscripts of this period, or which complement others that do so.

  • A100.3 - N.R. Ker, Catalogue of Manuscripts Containing Anglo-Saxon (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1990), repr.
    • scope: extant literary manuscripts written entirely or mainly in Old English before c. 1200, including fragments; Latin-O.E. glossaries; Latin texts furnished with a complete O.E. translation (either continuous gloss or separate version); mainly Latin manuscripts that contain a substantial amount of O.E.
    • excludes: cartularies; Latin texts containing merely a phrase or two of O.E.
    • the descriptions focus specifically upon the part or parts of a manuscript that contain Old English; other textual contents are not described, however a complete description of the physical characteristics of the manuscript, and evidence for its origin and provenance, are supplied.
    • includes supplementary list published in Anglo-Saxon England, 5 (1976).​​
  • A100.26 - Anglo-Saxon Manuscripts in Microfiche Facsimile, Philip Pulsiano, general editor, et al. (Binghampton: Center for Medieval and Early Renaissance Studies, c. 1994-).
    • aim of the series is to produce complete microfiche facsimiles of nearly 500 manuscripts containing Old English (in most cases, reproduced from existing film stock held by the repository concerned).
    • companion volumes provide descriptions of each manuscripts, comprising: series number; classmark; cross-references to Ker (1990) and Gneuss (1981); history of the manuscript; detailed codicological description (number of leaves and their foliation, dimensions, hair/flesh arrangement, condition; script, decoration); collation and signatures; textual contents; notes on the photos; bibliography.
  • A100.47 - K.D. Hartzell, Catalogue of Manuscripts Written or Owned in England up to 1200 Containing Music (Woodbridge: Boydell Press, 2006).
    • scope: extant manuscripts containing music in any form, from the 9th century to c. 1200; complete description of contents of each pontifical or benedictional containing music in order to illustrate their liturgical affinity with other sources; also includes fragments.
    • the descriptions focus specifically upon the part of parts of a manuscript that contain music; origin and provenance supplied in brief; only liturgical manuscripts are supplied with full physical and palaeographical descriptions.
  • A100.105 - Insular and Anglo-Saxon Illuminated Manuscripts: An Iconographic Catalogue, c. A.D. 625 to 1100, compiled and edited by Thomas H. Ohlgren (New York: Garland, 1986).
    • aims: provide information not available in the Survey of Manuscripts Illuminated in the British Isles series (see below), with descriptions divided into two parts: a heading and a description of iconographic contents.
    • headings comprise: an entry number; cross-reference to the Survey catalogue; shelfmark; author and title of the main texts; place of origin and provenance; date; dimensions; reference to modern edition of the text, facsimile edition or source of iconographic descriptions; cross-reference to Gneuss's Handlist and standard printed descriptions of the manuscript.
    • the description of iconographic contents comprises: an item number (unique to each illustration); iconographic description of the illustration; verse/line reference to a modern printed edition of the text or biblical citation; photographic reference to a plate in the Survey catalogue or another published source.
  • A100.106 - Anglo-Saxon Textual Illustration: Photographs of Sixteen Manuscripts with Descriptions and Index, compiled and edited by Thomas H. Ohlgren (Kalamazoo: Medieval Institute Publications, 1992).
    • scope: focused upon the miniatures and major decorated folios of manuscripts that had either not been published before or published in inaccessible or out-of-date sources.
    • comprises four sections: descriptions of the manuscripts; descriptions of the plates; index to iconographic contents; over 450 photographic plates.
    • descriptions of the manuscripts comprise: title or type of manuscript; shelfmark; place of origin and provenance; date; dimensions and number of leaves; cross-reference to Temple (1976) or Ohlgren (1986). The second part of the entry gives a brief narrative description of the manuscript and a short summary of scholarship.
    • descriptions of the plates comprise: folio-by-folio listing of iconographic contents and major decorative features; a short title adapted from the subject headings of the Index of Christian Art, and a fuller narrative description.
  • A100.500 - J.J.G. Alexander, Insular Manuscripts, 6th to the 9th Century, A Survey of Manuscripts Illuminated in the British Isles, 1 (London: Harvey Miller, 1978).
  • A100.500 - Elżbieta Temple, Anglo-Saxon Manuscripts, 900-1066, A Survey of Manuscripts Illuminated in the British Isles, 2 (London: Harvey Miller, 1976).
  • A100.500 - C.M. Kauffmann, Romanesque Manuscripts, 1066-1190, A Survey of Manuscripts Illuminated in the British Isles, 3 (London: Harley Miller, 1976).
    • these three volumes each provide overviews of the artistic styles and culture of their periods, followed by descriptions of manuscripts.
    • descriptions comprise: classmark, title or summary identification of contents, brief physical description, date and place or origin, description of the character and contents of the decoration, with particular reference to related manuscripts, provenance, and bibliography.
    • a large number of black-and-white plates (with occasional ones in colour) provide sample illustrations from each manuscript.
  • A122.1.10 - A Catalogue of Western Book Illumination in the Fitzwilliam Museum and the Cambridge Colleges, ed. by Nigel Morgan and Stella Panayotova, with the assistance of Rebecca Rushforth (London: Harvey Miller, 2013), Part 4, Vol. 1: 'Insular and Anglo-Saxon Manuscripts, c. 700-c. 1100.
    • scope: manuscripts grouped by regional schools of manuscript production; substantial information on main aspects of medieval illuminated manuscripts; physical description (but not collation); identification of texts or provision of their incipits (but no attempt to list or identify all minor texts or excerpts); artists, scribes and binders, when known by name or soubriquet, are identified at the beginning of each entry and in an index; bibliography includes all significant discussions of a manuscript's text, decoration or provenance.
    • main focus of the catalogue is illumination and decoration, so this is often the longest element in the description: organised in roughly hierarchical order, beginning with major figural illustration, but reflecting peculiarities of manuscripts where appropriate; all manuscripts with even minor decoration are included.
    • all figural decoration listed with iconographic subject titles; unusual motifs or compositions are sometimes described and often reproduced in the illustrations; full iconographic index provided.
    • each manuscript is represented by at least one image; the most richly illustrated have as many as eighteen folios reproduced; choice guided by project's focus on illumination, but some plates present evidence about ownership, distinctive scribal hands and contemporary/early bindings.
  • A122.2.48 - Paul Binski and Patrick Zutshi, with the collaboration of Stella Panayotova, Western Illuminated Manuscripts: A Catalogue of the Collection in Cambridge University Library (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2011).
    • scope: full records of the Western European manuscripts in the University Library, including not only those with illumination in gold but also those with other significant decoration, such as pen flourishing; covers manuscripts owned by the University Library but not those deposited there from other collections (e.g. the collections of Pembroke or Peterhouse); summary entries, with reasonably full account of textual content.
    • excludes: most fragments and cuttings (though plans to describe these elsewhere); exhaustive codicological description and full collation.
    • entries arranged in fixed order: catalogue number, classmark, main author/title of the work concerned, country and (if it can be established) region or place of origin, language (if not Latin), date of production to within a margin of a quarter-century (unless more precise evidence is available), essential codicological information (material, foliation, layout, apparatus, secundo folio), textual contents, script, decoration in hierarchical order, provenance and binding, notes (where further explication is required), bibliography.
    • Anglo-Saxon manuscripts: nos. 1-13; pp. 3-16.
  • A122.7.C75 - Mildred Budny, Insular, Anglo-Saxon, and Early Anglo-Norman Manuscript Art at Corpus Christi College, Cambridge: An Illustrated Catalogue (Kalamazoo: Medieval Institute Publications, 1997), 2 vols.
    • scope: covers manuscripts now held at Corpus Christi College that contain illustration, decoration, and artists' sketches made in the British Isles to c. 1100, including both manuscripts made in the British Isles and those imported there and then augmented with illustration, decoration, or both.
    • expands upon Ohlgren (1986) by including a wide range of decorated initials and artists' sketches.
    • descriptions are presented in approximate chronological order and comprise: shelfmark and title/type of book; place of origin and date (in brief) and notice of any additions and their date and place; codicological information (number, character and size of leaves); type of book; language, layout, script and art; date, place of origin and provenance (in full); binding and condition; other catalogues/handlists; bibliography; textual contents; inventory of added decoration and illustration.
    • each description is illustrated by at least one plate; these are provided in the second volume.
  • A125.5.D350 - Durham Cathedral Manuscripts to the end of the Twelfth Century, with an introduction by R.A.B. Mynors (Oxford: University Press, 1939).
    • scope: a list of all Durham manuscripts certainly written before the end of the 12th century, arranged in roughly chronological order, provided with short descriptions and illustrative plates.
    • includes overview of the extant medieval catalogues of Durham Cathedral Library, surviving medieval bindings, late 11th- and 12th-century ornament, and printed catalogues of the collection (with an appendix of unprinted book-lists of the 12th and 14th centuries).
    • descriptions comprise: shelfmark; author/title; textual contents; number of leaves and their foliation; collation; method of page preparation; scribal hands; references to the manuscript in handwritten or printed catalogues.


Palaeographical guides:

The following are presented as being of particular use for gaining familiarity with both the variety and the evolution of scripts written during the Anglo-Saxon period, including imported continental scripts such as Caroline minuscule as well as their Insular variants. The extensive provision of illustrative plates is particularly helpful in this regard, as well as for practising transcription (some volumes provide in print a full version of the text given in the plates).

  • A121.25 - Andrew G. Watson, Catalogue of Dated and Datable Manuscripts c. 700-1600 in the Department of Manuscripts, The British Library (London: The British Library, 1979), 2 vols.
  • A122.2.45 - P.R. Robinson, Catalogue of Dated and Datable Manuscripts c. 737-1600 in Cambridge Libraries (Cambridge: D.S. Brewer, 1988), 2 vols.
  • A123.1.5 - Andrew G. Watson, Catalogue of Dated and Datable Manuscripts c. 435-1600 in Oxford Libraries (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1984), 2 vols.
  • A125.1.10 - P.R. Robinson, Catalogue of Dated and Datable Manuscripts, c. 888-1600 in London Libraries (London: The British Library, 2003), 2 vols.
    • scope: description of all precisely dated manuscript books, or those that are generally datable to within fairly precise chronological limits, in all of the major manuscript repositories in England.
    • vol. 1 lists manuscripts in alphabetical order by collection and classmark (the University Library in the Cambridge volume and the Bodleian in the Oxford volume preceding the other collegiate or museum collections); vol. 2 provides plates of each manuscript, presented in chronological order.
    • descriptions comprise a heading consisting of collection, classmark, date and place of origin; summary identification of the contents (only the first item, if a manuscript contains more than one); physical description (material, number of extant medieval leaves, dimensions of leaves and written space, number of leaves); evidence of date; evidence of origin; other work by the same scribe; evidence of later history; bibliography.
  • A320.7 - Codices Latini Antiquiores: A Palaeographical Guide to Latin Manuscripts Prior to the Ninth Century, ed. by E.A. Lowe (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1934-): 
    • scope: provides description, based upon examination of the originals, of all known Latin literary manuscripts regarded as older than the 9th century, accompanied by a to-size specimen of the script they contain, supplemented by a select bibliography.
    • descriptions comprise: serial number; shelfmark (and folio range, where appropriate); contents (in brief); type of script; date; size; ruling; arrangement of gatherings and signatures (but not full collation); punctuation; spelling; writing support (calf- or sheepskin); abbreviations; provenance; available facsimiles; bibliography.
  • A325.51 - N.R. Ker, English Manuscripts in the Century after the Norman Conquest, The Lyell Lectures 1952-53 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1960).
    • scope: description of the changes during this period in the script of manuscripts written in England; covers the collections where manuscripts were made and how and by whom copies were made, the means by which post-Conquest scripts might be dated, different types of script used, scribal practices (preliminaries, line-spacing, punctuation, signatures and catchwords, corrections and alterations), palaeographical and manuscript/facsimile indexes, and plates of manuscripts cited in the lectures.
  • A325.67 - T.A.M. Bishop, English Caroline Minuscule (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1971).
    • provides an overview of the history and development of the script, the sources from which evidence to guide the dating of other manuscripts might be derived, and the varieties of English Caroline script that may be found in the extant manuscripts.
    • 28 examples given, with detailed description (origin, date, materials and preparation, script, related specimens, text and bibliography) and an illustrative plate.
  • A325.83 - E.A. Lowe, English Uncial (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1960).
    • collection of specimens that illustrate English uncial script; brief remarks explaining the grounds on which manuscripts containing uncial are connected with England and illustrative plates, both given in chronological order.
    • criteria for inclusion: close resemblance to the uncial of Codex Amiatinus; presence of Insular symptoms in any uncial manuscript not belonging to any definite continental type and being of English provenance; presence of Insular symptoms in any uncial manuscript not belonging to any definite continental type and even though not of English provenance; English provenance for an uncial manuscript not belonging to any definite continental type; and the occurrence of uncial as an island in the middle of Anglo-Saxon minuscule or majuscule script, where it is clear that both scripts are by the same scribe.
  • A325.159 - Jane Roberts, Guide to Scripts Used in English Writings up to 1500 (London: The British Library, 2005).
    • aims: overview of the variety of scripts used in the recording of English literature up to and a little beyond the introduction of print; provide help in identifying sets of letter-forms in use and to understand their place in the history of script.
    • descriptions comprise: classmark, title or summary identification of contents, identification of script, complete transcription of accompanying plate, and extended analysis of the script and its characteristics.
  • A325.160 - Michelle P. Brown, A Guide to Western Historical Scripts (London: The British Library, 1993).
    • includes Insular scripts (half-uncial and display script, hybrid minuscule, set minuscule and cursive minuscule), Anglo-Saxon scripts (pointed, square, round and Anglo-Caroline minuscules), and English Caroline minuscule.
    • descriptions comprise: classmark, dimensions of leaf and written space, title or summary identification of contents, place of origin and date; provenance; detailed description of the script; and a full transcription of the text shown in the accompanying plate.
  • A325.195 - Donald Scragg, A Conspectus of Scribal Hands Writing English, 960-1100 (Cambridge: D.S. Brewer, 2012).
    • scope: includes all single-sheet documents purporting to come from the reign of Edgar I onwards and dated before 1100; includes all late 10th- and 11th-century documents that are forgeries of earlier material; includes all inked English writings on parchment; individual names (ownership, endorsements, etc) are included, and listed in an index.
    • excludes: scratched glosses and writings on other material such as stone, bone or metals; lists of personal or place names except where there are attached English word or phrases.
    • no distinction made between English copied in England and that written in continental manuscripts, nor between English writers and foreign scribes writing English.
    • entries given in alphabetical order by library shelfmark; references given to Gneuss, Ker, and Sawyer/Pelteret; the folio or folio range copied by a particular hand; the date and location; textual contents and very brief notes on scribe, location of writing or status of the hand in relation to the rest of the manuscript.



  • A604.2 - An Anglo-Saxon Dictionary: Based on the Manuscript Collections of the late Joseph Bosworth, edited and enlarged by T. Northcote Toller (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1972), repr., with T. Northcote Toller, Supplement, with revised and enlarged addenda by Alistair Campbell (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1921).



Facsimiles of Cambridge University Library manuscripts are held on the open shelves (facsimiles of manuscripts from other collections are usually closed non-borrowable; these may be ordered to the West Room and transferred from there for consultation in the Manuscripts Reading Room.  A subject guide on the University Library's collection of manuscript facsimiles is forthcoming).

Anglo-Saxon manuscripts at the UL that are available as facsimiles/transcripts are as follows:

  • A122.9.5 - A.B. Kuypers, The Prayer Book of Aedeluald the Bishop, commonly called the Book of Cerne: edited, from the MS in the University Library, Cambridge, with introduction and notes (Cambridge: University Press, 1902) - MS Ll.1.10
  • A122.9.38 - Helen McKee, The Cambridge Juvencus Manuscript, Glossed in Latin, Old Welsh, and Old Irish: Text and Commentary (Aberystwyth: CMCS Publications, 2000) - MS Ff.4.42

Also shelved with the facsimile volumes are monographs and collections of essays that are devoted specifically to a University Library manuscript:

  • A122.9.60 - Michelle P. Brown, The Book of Cerne: Prayer, Patronage and Power in Ninth-Century England (London: The British Library, 1996) - MS Ll.1.10
  • A122.9.70 - Studies on the Book of Deer, ed. by Katherine Forsyth (Dublin: Four Courts Press, 2008) - MS Ii.6.32

The main source of complete reproductions for Anglo-Saxon manuscripts is the series Anglo-Saxon Manuscripts in Microfiche Facsimile (see entry under Descriptive catalogues for further details).  The microfiches may be requested at the Manuscripts Reading Room desk; the companion volumes, containing descriptions of each manuscript reproduced in the series, are available on the open shelves (A100.26).

Many, if not most, of the reference materials listed above under Descriptive catalogues or Palaeographical guides will include selective reproductions of Anglo-Saxon manuscripts, which will be of particular use for comparative purposes.  Where such plates are present, this has been noted in the overview of their contents.


Digitised manuscripts:

A supplement to Gneuss and Lapidge's handlist - which provides links to complete digital facsimiles and online descriptions of all surviving Anglo-Saxon manuscripts - is currently in preparation and will be available shortly.


Dr James Freeman

Medieval Manuscripts Specialist

(Suggestions for additions to this guide, and any corrections, would be welcomed).