A Calendrical Table, In A Scientific Textbook
The 16th-century English bibliophile, Robert Cotton, sometimes bound together unrelated manuscripts. This one contains a fragment of an early 12th-century English scientific textbook from Peterborough and an 11th-century pontifical (manual of services conducted by a bishop), part of which was probably made in France but to which additions were made at Sherborne Abbey in Dorset. The scientific textbook comes from two types of sources. First, an early medieval natural science tradition began in the treatises of Isidore of Seville and Bede, and was later expanded at Fleury, most notably by Abbo of Fleury, who lived at Ramsey in the 10th century. To this tradition belong diagrams incorporating Christian doctrine into classical theories on the structure of the heavens and earth. A second component is astrological. Monks and churchmen used this textbook in their theological training. Annals in another part of the book giving the death dates of Peterborough abbots and the handwriting's similarity to that of the Peterborough Chronicle (at the Bodleian Library, Oxford) place the manuscript's origin at that monastery.
Following a section of diagrams of the heavens and earth, two sets of calendrical tables relate to the diagrams' exposition of time measurement and movements of stars and planets. This table is for computation of dates, relating it to biblical history. In the right margin the numbers and Greek letters (which are given numeric values in the upper margin) express the years since the beginning of the world.