You are in Introduction. Click here to skip the navigation.
British Library
Digital Catalogue of Illuminated Manuscripts
 Detail from the Roman de la Rose
About Simple search Manuscript search Advanced search  Virtual exhibitions Glossaries Contact us  Main
print Print this page
home Home
site search Search British Library website
back Back

search tips  Search tips



Detailed record for Royal 2 A XX

Title Prayer book (the 'Royal Prayer Book'), including the apocryphal letter of Christ to Abgar, and Gospel readings
Origin England, S. (Mercia)
Date 1st quarter of the 9th century
Language Latin
Script Insular hybrid minuscule, Insular minuscule, and Insular cursive minuscule
Artists Southumbrian 'Tiberius' Group
Decoration 2 large zoomorphic initials: 1 in gold and silver (f. 1) and 1 in colours (f. 17). Smaller initials filled with colours and outlined with red dots. Marginal drawings of figures with pointed fingers or animals (ff. 2v, 5, 6v, 15, 32v, 33, 40v), and dedication crosses (e.g., ff. 18v, 19v).
Dimensions in mm 230 x 170 (180 x 130)
Official foliation ff. 52 (+ 4 unfoliated modern paper flyleaves at the beginning and at the end; ff. 1, 52 are medieval parchment flyleaves)
Form Parchment codex
Binding BM/BL in-house.
Provenance Added annotation symbol resembling a rune-like dotted 'Y', dating from the Anglo-Saxon period, also found in Harley 7653, indicating a probable shared provenance.
Added interlinear glosses (ff. 11v-15, 19, 22, 24, 45v), titles to a series of prayers (ff. 29-38), and marginal notes (ff. 12v, 44) in Anglo-Saxon, 10th century.
Added marginal collects of between 950 and 999.
The Benedictine cathedral priory of St. Mary, Worcester: an addition mentioning the Seven Sleepers, Blasius, and Cassius by a 12th-century Worcester scribe (f. 52); perhaps to be identified with the 'Precationes quaedam charactere saxonico quarto' in Patrick Young Catalogus Librorum Manuscriptorum Bibliothecae Wigorniensis, Made in 1622-1623, ed. by Ivor Atkins and N. Ker (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1944), no. 309.
John Theyer (bap. 1598, d. 1673), antiquary: inscribed with his name 'Ioannes Theyer', with a dated note of 1649 (f. 11v); his monogram (f. 42), and numerous annotations; perhaps to be identified with 'Liturgia antiquissima' in the catalogue of his library left to his grandson Charles Theyer (b. 1651): see E. Bernard, Catalogi librorum manuscriptorum Angliae et Hiberniae, 3 vols. (Oxford: Sheldonian, '1697', but 1698?), II, no. 6393.
Robert Scott (b. c. 1632, d. 1709/10), London bookseller: included in the catalogue of John Theyer's manuscripts in his possession, made in 1678 by William Beveridge and William Jane, Royal Appendix, 70, no. 160.
Charles II (b. 1630, d.1685), king of England, Scotland, and Ireland: purchased from Scott together with other 311 manuscripts from Theyer's library.
Presented to the British Museum by George II in 1757 as part of the Old Royal Library.
Notes Full digital coverage available for this manuscript: see Digitised Manuscripts at
One of a group of Southumbrian prayerbooks of the 'Tiberius' group, the others being Harley 7653, Harley 2965 (the Book of Nunnaminster) and Cambridge University Library, MS Ll.1.10 (the Book of Cerne). Some of the group exhibit linguistic features that raise the possibility of original female production and/ or use (according to Brown 2001).
The thematic devotional arrangement focuses upon spiritual and physical health, perhaps indicating use by a physician.
The decoration is of the 'Tiberius Group' style, featuring 'Mercian' style zoomorphic ornament and minuscule scripts that have some context within charter production of the period (see Brown, 1996 and 2001).
Guide letters in red (e.g., ff. 29v, 30v, 31, etc).
Select bibliography [E. Maunde Thompson and G. F. Warner], Catalogue of Ancient Manuscripts in the British Museum, 2 vols (London: British Museum, 1881-1884), Part II Latin, p. 60.

A. B. Kuypers, The Prayer Book of Aedeluald the Bishop (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1902), pp. 200-25.

George F. Warner and Julius P. Gilson, Catalogue of Western Manuscripts in the Old Royal and King’s Collections, 4 vols (London: British Museum, 1921), I, pp. 33-36.

M. R. James, The Apocryphal New Testament (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1924), pp. 476-77.

Codices Latini Antiquiores, ed. by E. A. Lowe, 11 vols (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1934-1966), II: Great Britain and Ireland (1935), no. 215.

N. R. Ker, Catalogue of Manuscripts Containing Anglo-Saxon (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1957), no. 248.

D. H. Turner, 'The Prayer-Book of Archbishop Arnulf of Milan', Revue Bénédictine, 70 (1960), 360-92 (p. 366).

Medieval Libraries of Great Britain: A List of Surviving Books, ed. by N. R. Ker, 2nd edn, Royal Historical Society Guides and Handbooks, 3 (London: Royal Historical Society, 1964), pp. 207, 362.

Curt F. Bühler, 'Prayers and Charms in Certain Middle English Scrolls', Speculum: A Journal of Medieval Studies, 39 (1964), 270-78 (p. 271, n. 11).

Alphons A. Barb, 'Die Blutsegen von Fulda und London', in Fachliteratur des Mittelalters: Festschrift für Gerhard Eis, ed by G. Keil and others (Stuttgart: Metzler, 1968), pp. 485-93 (p. 485, pls. 1, 2).

J. J. G. Alexander, Insular Manuscripts: 6th to the 9th Century, A Survey of Manuscripts Illuminated in the British Isles, 1 (London: Harvey Miller, 1978), no. 35.

Charles M. Atkinson, 'O Amnos Tu Theu: The Greek Agnus Dei in the Roman Liturgy from the Eight to the Eleventh Century', Kirchenmusikalisches Jahrbuch, 65 (1981), 7-30 (p. 10).

Charles M. Atkinson, 'Zur Entstehung und Überlieferung der Missa Romana', Archiv für Musikwissenschaft, 39 (1982) 113-45 (pp. 118, n. 26, 121).

J. Morrish, 'Dated and Datable Manuscripts Copied in England During the 9th Century: A Preliminary List', Medieval Studies, 50 (1988), 512-38 (pp. 518-22, 525, 526, 537).

Fake? The Art of Deception, ed. by Mark Jones, Paul Craddock, and Nicolas Barker (London: British Museum, 1990), no. 61 [exhibition catalogue].

Michelle P. Brown, A Guide to Western Historical Scripts from Antiquity to 1600 (London: British Library, 1990), pl. 18.

Anglo-Saxon Litanies of the Saints, ed. by Michael Lapidge, Henry Bradshaw Society, 106 (London: Henry Bradshaw Society, 1991), no. 26.

Michelle P. Brown, Anglo-Saxon Manuscripts (London: British Library, 1991), pl. 139.

The Making of England: Anglo-Saxon Art and Culture AD 600-900, L. Webster and J.M. Backhouse (Toronto University Press, 1991), no.163. (exhibition catalogue)

Richard Gameson, 'The Decoration of the Tanner Bede', Anglo-Saxon England, 21 (1992) 115-159 (p. 118, n. 12).

David N. Dumville, English Caroline Script and Monastic History, Studies in Benedictinism, A.D.950-1030 , Studies in Anglo-Saxon History, 6 (Suffolk: Boydell, 1993), pp. 76-77, 143, pl. 1.

Biblical Commentaries from the Canterbury School of Theodore and Hadrian, ed. by Bernhard Bischoff and Michael Lapidge, Cambridge Studies in Anglo-Saxon England, 10 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1994), pp. 146, 169-71.

Anglo-Saxon Manuscripts in Microfiche Facsimile, 1, ed. by A. N. Doane, P. Pulsiano and R. E. Buckalew, Medieval and Renaissance Texts and Studies (New York: Binghamton, 1994), no. 283.

Michelle P. Brown, The Book of Cerne: Prayer, Patronage and Power in Ninth-Century England (London: British Library, 1996), pp. 15, 21, 20, 42, 50, 110, 119, 130, 131, 135, 137, 140, 141, 151-54 passim, 157, 158, 168, 169, 171, 172, 175, 178, 179, 181, pl. 9.

Richard Gameson, ‘Book Production and Decoration at Worcester in the Tenth and Eleventh Centuries’, in St Oswald of Worcester: Life and Influence, ed. by Nicholas Brooks and Catherine Cubitt, Studies in the Early History of Britain, The Makers of England, 2 (London: Leicester University Press, 1996), pp. 194-243 (p. 238).

Michelle P. Brown and Patricia Lovett, The Historical Source Book for Scribes (London: British Library, 1999), pl. on p. 61.

Ruth Dean and Maureen Bolton, Anglo-Norman Literature, A Guide to Texts and Manuscripts (London: Anglo-Norman Text Society, 1999) no. 883.

Michelle P. Brown, 'Female Book-Ownership and Production in Anglo-Saxon England: the Evidence of the Ninth-Century Prayerbooks', in Lexis and Texts in Early English: Studies Presented to Jane Roberts, ed. by C. J. Kay and L. M. Sylvester (Amsterdam, 2001), pp. 45-67.

Michelle P. Brown, ‘Mercian Manuscripts? The ‘Tiberius’ Group and Its Historical Context’, in Mercia: An Anglo-Saxon Kingdom in Europe, ed. by Michelle P. Brown and Carol A. Farr (London: Leicester University Press, 2001), pp. 281-91 (pp. 282, 288).

Helmut Gneuss, Handlist of Anglo-Saxon Manuscripts: A List of Manuscripts and Manuscript Fragments Written or Owned in England up to 1100 (Tempe, Arizona: Arizona Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies, 2001), no. 450.

D. C. Skemer, 'Amulet Rolls and Female Devotion', in Scriptorium: Revue internationale des études relative aux manuscrits, 55 (2001), 197-227 (p. 211).

The Leofric Missal I, ed. by Nicholas Orchard, Henry Bradshaw Society, 113 (London: Henry Bradshaw Society, 2002), p. 69.

Michelle P. Brown, Painted Labyrinth: The world of the Lindisfarne Gospels (London: British Library, 2003), p. 46.

Treasures of the British Library, ed. by Nicolas Barker and others (London: British Library, 2005), p. 36.

David Howlett, Insular Inscriptions (Chippenham: Antony Rowe, 2005), pp. 1145-48.

Michelle P. Brown, Manuscripts from the Anglo-Saxon Age (London: British Library, 2007), pl. 47.

Sacred: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam and their Sacred Texts (London: British Library, 2007), p. 185 [exhibition catalogue].

* * *
Decorated initials

ff. 10v-11
Decorated initials
Zoomorphic initial

f. 17
Zoomorphic initial
Decorated initials

ff. 24v-25
Decorated initials

print Print this page
home Home
site search Search British Library website
back Back
top Back

About Simple search Manuscript search Advanced search
Virtual exhibitions Glossaries Accessibility Contact us Main

All text is © British Library Board and is available under a CC-BY Licence except where otherwise stated