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Evangelist symbols and runes, in the Tollemache Orosius

Evangelist symbols and runes, in the Tollemache Orosius

Medium: Ink and pigments on vellum

Date: 910

Shelfmark: Additional MS 47967

Item number: f.1r

Length: 28

Width: 19

Scale: Centimetres

Genre: Illuminated manuscript

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Named the Tollemache Orosius for its former owners, this manuscript presents Orosius's 'History' in an Old English translation. In the early 5th century, Orosius wrote the first Christian world history, a medieval best-seller. The Old English translation, traditionally attributed to Alfred the Great, was probably done in the 9th century. Whether or not he was the translator, the Tollemache Orosius was probably made at Winchester within a few decades of his death. Medieval flyleaves were often used for notes. Later in the 10th century, this one received unusual drawings of the evangelists? symbols (four biblical creatures viewed as symbols of the gospels' authors) and a panel of vine ornament, labelled 'Vine of the Lord'. The symbol of Mark (usually a lion) appears as the Lamb of God and John (eagle) combines animal and human forms, while Matthew (man) kneels below offering a cup. The runes were added about 1000, over which another person added letters, although not a correct translation of the runes.

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