Ropework Initial, In A Volume Of Miscellaneous Prose And Verse Theological Texts(011ADD000020512U00036000)
Medium: Ink and pigments on vellum
This manuscript is a compendium of well over a hundred different texts, most of which were composed earlier than the 12th century. The style of its handwriting has been recognised as that of Uilliam Mac an Lega, one of the most prolific scribes of the second half of the 15th century, and it has additions by his son, which suggests that it was written for Uilliam's own use, and remained in his family for a period. Later owners include the Fitzgeralds, Earls of Desmond, and it remained in Ireland until the 19th century.
The initial 'A' at the start of this litany bears little relation to the modern shape of the letter. Unlike the other initials of similar size in the volume, this one is composed of a sort of ropework, rather than interlace, pattern. The letter has been transformed into a cross encircled with the ropework, possibly to reflect the content of the page: a litany. In another manuscript (Egerton MS 92, also in the British Library) a section of this litany appears with the heading, 'The Confession of St Ciaran.'