Click here to skip to content

The Greek Alphabet, In A Pontifical

The Greek Alphabet, In A Pontifical

Medium: Ink and pigments on vellum

Date: 1050

Shelfmark: Cotton MS Tiberius C I

Item number: f.180r

Genre: Illuminated manuscript

The 17th-century English bibliophile, Robert Cotton, sometimes bound together separate manuscripts which were otherwise totally unrelated, creating books of miscellaneous contents, this book being a good example. It is made of an early 12th-century English scientific textbook and an 11th-century pontifical (manual of services conducted by a bishop), some parts of which were probably made in France but which are bound with sections which clearly were made before the Norman conquest in Southwest England, probably at Sherborne Abbey in Dorset, where other additions in Old English and Latin were made. The monastery of St Mary, Sherborne, is mentioned in a form for a monk's profession of his vows, and later in the century the pontifical went to Salisbury after the see of Sherborne was removed in 1078 where it was updated further with instructions for Salisbury services. At the dedication of a church, the bishop would write out two alphabets on the ground using the point of his pastoral staff, one in Latin and one in Greek, so that they overlapped in an X shape. The text on this page relates to this ceremony, and the outer margin has the Greek alphabet, which the bishop could copy if he had not learnt it by heart.

Search within this collection

Elsewhere on our websites


Latest events - register free online

Mobile app

For iPhone, iPad and Android

Report a Concern

What is the nature of your concern?

Report a Concern

What is the nature of your concern?

Email link to a friend

Write a brief note to accompany the email

Your friend's email address: