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Labyrinth, In 'The Martyrdom And Miracles Of St. Edmund'

Labyrinth, In 'The Martyrdom And Miracles Of St. Edmund'

Medium: Ink and pigments on vellum

Date: 1110

Shelfmark: Cotton MS Tiberius B II

Item number: f.248v

Length: 27.6

Width: 18.6

Scale: Centimetres

Genre: Illuminated manuscript

St Edmund, king of East Anglia, was killed by pagan Danish invaders in 870. A Christian, he became revered as a royal martyr. In the 10th century, his remains were taken to Beodricsworth, which became Bury St Edmund's and promoted his status as a royal martyr saint. Bound with a 12th-century manuscript of Abbo of Fleury's account of his martyrdom and Hermann the Archdeacon's of his miracles, records of the bishop of Ely's property, or manors, gives information on tenants, income and other business. Details of property for many villages in Cambridgeshire are recorded here. On a blank page between some of the property documents, a diagram of concentric circles was drawn at some point. It resembles a labyrinth or maze. Some medieval cathedrals, such as Chartres and Amiens, have 13th-century labyrinth designs inlaid into their floors. Ely Cathedral has a floor labyrinth design at the base of its West tower, but it was created only in 1870. Another possibility is that it represents an unfinished planetary or astronomical diagram which would have been used to calculate phases of the moon or the solstices and equinoxes. These dates must be calculated for each year to determine the date of Easter.

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