Farming was the basis of the early medieval economy and the occupation of the majority of the population, but agricultural activities are rarely depicted in surviving artwork. This calendar featured marginal scenes of farming and hunting is one of only two surviving books from pre-Conquest England depicting common activities such as ploughing, hunting and smithing. The other work is now Cotton MS Tiberius B V/1. Archaeological discoveries of farm equipment suggest the illustrations are plausible portrayals of eleventh-century agricultural practice.
The calendar forms part of a collection of material for calculating time and dates. Each page of the calendar corresponds to one month, and includes an image of the month’s Zodiac symbol and a scene of activities associated with that time of year. The calendar also includes a poem with one verse for every day of the year, describing saints’ days and other notable anniversaries. An early owner further added gold crosses in the margins of the main text to mark passages.
This manuscript was digitised with the support of The Polonsky Foundation.
- Full title:
- Anglo-Saxon calendar and computistical material
- 1st half of the 11th century–2nd half of the 12th century, Canterbury
- Usage terms
Public Domain in most countries other than the UK.
- Held by
- British Library
- Cotton MS Julius A VI
- Article by:
- Kathleen Doyle, Eleanor Jackson
- Art and illumination, Christian religion and belief, Making manuscripts
Manuscripts reflect the creativity of artists and scribes, and the resources of their patrons. Kathleen Doyle and Eleanor Jackson outline the development of book art in early medieval England.