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Decorated Initial, In St. Aldhelm's Treatise 'In Praise Of Virginity'

Decorated Initial, In St. Aldhelm's Treatise 'In Praise Of Virginity'

Medium: Ink on vellum

Date: 900

Shelfmark: Royal MS 5 F.iii

Item number: f.24v

Length: 20.4

Width: 17

Scale: Centimetres

Genre: Illuminated manuscript

St. Aldhelm (c.639-709), abbot of Malmesbury and bishop of Sherborne, has been described as 'the first Englishman who cultivated classical learning with any success'. He led a particularly austere life: it is recorded that when he was abbot he used to recite the entire Psalter standing up to his neck in ice-cold water. His main surviving work is 'In Praise Of Virginity', which he dedicated to the abbess and nuns of Barking. This manuscript of the text was in the library at Worcester Cathedral by the 17th century, and had probably been there since the early Middle Ages. Although this leaf is damaged (someone cut off the blank lower margin, probably because they needed a small piece of parchment to write on), the high quality of the simple initial 'N' is still evident. It combines two kinds of interlace, foliate buds, and an animal head.

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