Many manuscripts reveal a surprising amount about their makers and owners. One such is this small prayer book, which measures only 130 x 95 mm (part of the book is now Cotton MS Titus D XXVII). According to a note, it was made by Brother Ælfsige for Ælfwine (d. 1057), dean and later abbot of the New Minster, Winchester, one of the richest monasteries in England.
In addition to prayers, Ælfwine’s book contains various other material, such as a calendar, scientific diagrams, devotional images, a charm for catching a thief, the dates of his mother’s, father’s, and siblings’ deaths, texts on divination and even a recipe for treating ulcers (made from nine egg yolks, wine and fennel).
This manuscript was digitised with the support of The Polonsky Foundation.
- Article by:
- Calum Cockburn
- Art and illumination, Making manuscripts
Books were made in monasteries across England and France during the early medieval period. Calum Cockburn introduces some important sites of manuscript production that were active between 700 and 1200.
- Article by:
- Kathleen Doyle
- Medieval manuscript collections today
The manuscript collections of the British Library are rich resources for understanding the literary and historical culture of the Middle Ages. Kathleen Doyle highlights the works digitised through The Polonsky Foundation England and France Project.