Annals of Thorney Abbey f.80r
Medium: Ink and pigments on vellum
Medieval monasteries kept records of historical events because they needed to be able to prove their claims to privileges and lands granted them and to promote their own positions within the history of Christianity. This manuscript has some of the pages of the annals or notes of important events of the monastery of Thorney. Entries were made beside the years of a chart used for the calculation of the date of Easter, thus placing the events in the rhythm of commemoration of the most important events of the founding of Christianity.
This page has the beginning of the annals, identified by the inscription at the top, "Annals of the monastery of Thorney in the isle of Ely from the year 961 to 1421." It begins with the reign of King Edgar (Eadgar), during which the monastery was refounded in the early 970s (its original foundation called Ancarig about 662) by Aethelwold, bishop of Winchester. The event is marked by two notes, one in large letters. Below the foundation notes the death of Edgar is recorded ('O' for 'obit'), with the sighting of a comet--a sign of tragic events. The annals record the deaths of Edward and Dunstan, archbishop of Canterbury, as well as that of Aethelwold and the accession of King Aethelred and of Sigeric, archbishop of Canterbury. The last entries (1006) record the death of archbishop Aelfric, the succession of Alfege and the arrival of a great fleet--the Danes.