History by the month: January and the New Year

The enormous two-volume Dover Bible was made in Canterbury, c.1160, for use at Dover Priory, where it was recorded in 1389. The initial here shows the prophet Isaiah, declaiming ‘Ve genti peccatritri’ (‘Woe to the sinful nation’, Isaiah 1:4). It is marked ‘lectio i’ in the margin. According to the preface at the beginning of... Continue Reading →

Ælfric’s Christmas Homily

Ælfric of Eynsham (~955 - ~1010) was an abbot, scholar and translator, who composed two series of English homilies, which explained and expounded upon Biblical events in the Anglo-Saxon language. In a fitting example for the upcoming holiday, the homily for Christmas day describes the story of the birth of Jesus, and his subsequent laying... Continue Reading →

Happy Magna Carta Day

Finally, after what seems like years of barely restrained anticipation, Magna Carta has officially turned 800. Like most 800th birthday parties, we're celebrating it by looking at pictures from the subject's wild youth, and exclaiming over how young it looks. Corpus Christi College MS 16 is an autograph copy of Matthew Paris' Chronica Maiora, which contains... Continue Reading →

History by the Month: May

The autograph Chronica Maiora of Matthew Paris (c1200-1259), monk of St. Albans, is one of the most famous sources for thirteenth century English history. It is a history of the world, but is especially important for events of the author’s lifetime. The manuscript is in two volumes and contains hundreds of little drawings by Matthew... Continue Reading →

Woden and MS 66

Richard Fahey, a PhD candidate at the University of Notre Dame, just wrote a blog post about the mythological treatment of Woden in Anglo-Saxon genealogies, using CCCC MS 66, p. 69 to illustrate. Click through and compare MS 66's illustration with that of the British Library's Cotton Caligula A.viii.

MS 291 and the Computation of Easter

While today we simply have to struggle to adapt to the one-hour difference when the clocks change before enjoying a convenient bank holiday weekend, our medieval predecessors struggled to reach a consensus as to when Easter fell in the year, and how to pinpoint it. In the early Middle Ages, constructing a calendar was complicated... Continue Reading →


The 2014 Panizzi Lectures were given by Donnelley Fellow Librarian, Dr Christopher de Hamel. The first, on Monday 27th October looked principally at the Bury Bible, now in the Parker Library.   There are more details about the lectures, which take place at the British Library, here.        

Parker Library Calendar – September

Bells were the most widely-heard musical isntruments of the mIddle Ages, ringing loudly form belfries and church towers. For many people, bells were the only available measurements of the passage of time, and peals of bells marked great festivals and public occasions. This is from the Pontifical of Guy de Mohun, bishop of St Davids... Continue Reading →

Medieval Welsh Law (Cyfraith Hywel)

Over the next couple of weeks I'm going to be focusing on various digital projects and resources both old and new which incorporate data concerning one or more manuscripts from the Parker Library collection. The first project is one that's just gone live, Cyfraith Hywel (the Laws of Hywel Dda), a resource for the study... Continue Reading →

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