Glossed Book of Ezekiel


This 12th-century copy of the Old Testament book of Ezekiel may have been produced at the Cistercian monastery of Fountains Abbey, North Yorkshire. The book contains marginal commentaries known as glosses, used to explain and comment on passages of text in Scripture for the reader.

Typical of monastic manuscripts, the medieval binding lacks decoration yet it was practically designed. The book was strengthened and protected by wooden boards covered with white leather. A leather strap with a clasp and pin acted as a fastening to hold the book shut when it was not in use.

Two integrated bookmarks made from strips of leather allowed the reader to save and compare passages of text. This binding demonstrates the ideals of diligent biblical study and visual simplicity upheld at monastic houses such as Fountains Abbey.

This manuscript was digitised with the support of The Polonsky Foundation.

Full title:
Glossed Book of Ezekiel
2nd half of the 12th century, France or Fountains Abbey, England
Usage terms

Public Domain in most countries other than the UK.

Held by
British Library

Full catalogue details

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Medieval bindings

Article by:
Charlotte Denoël
Art and illumination, Making manuscripts, Christian religion and belief

A binding is an essential component of a manuscript, designed to hold it together and to protect it from wear and tear. Charlotte Denoël discusses the aesthetic and symbolic value of medieval bindings on books used ceremoniously and for study.