During the early period of Christianity in Britain, after the departure of the Romans and their legal system in the 5th century AD, the gospel book symbolised the ultimate authority of God and the Church. A gospel book, especially in Celtic areas (Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Cornwall, Man) could be credited with the supernatural power of its church's founder saint. Displayed on altars and in processions, such a book had public and spiritual dimensions. All these factors made it a place to record special legal actions, including manumission - the freeing of slaves. Probably made in Brittany, a 'Celtic' area where cultural links with western Britain and Ireland were maintained, the 9th-century Bodmin Gospels, from St Petroc's Priory, Bodmin, Cornwall, is such a gospel book. This page begins a standard gospels preface, a copy of the letter written in the 5th century by St Jerome to the pope on his new Latin edition of the Bible. In the lower margin, the faint inscription records the freeing of a slave named Iliuth "and all his offspring" during the reign of King Aethelred (978-1016 ). It is written in Latin, with Celtic (Cornish?) and Anglo-Saxon names of the slave and witnesses. Slavery was a fact of life in the early medieval world: anyone could be taken into slavery during war, by raiders or because of poverty.