Symeon of Durham, De Exordio Ecclesiae Dunelmensis


Symeon of Durham (active c. 1090–c. 1128) was an English monk and historian, known for writing a number of chronicles, including the De Exordio Ecclesiae Dunelmensis (Concerning the Beginning of the Church of Durham). The text traces the history of the Church of Durham from its foundation at the island monastery of Lindisfarne in 635 up to the end of the 11th century. This manuscript, produced in Durham during the first quarter of the 12th century, contains one of the earliest copies of Symeon’s work. 

Incorporated into the chronicle is a version of ‘Bede’s Death Song’ in Old English. According to Cuthbert of Wearmouth, one of Bede’s disciples who was active during the eighth century, the Anglo-Saxon historian composed this five-line poem on his deathbed in 735. The text describes a dying man as he thinks about his life, the good or evil he has done, and the judgement that awaits his soul in the afterlife. 

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

Full title:
Symeon of Durham, De Exordio Ecclesiae Dunelmensis
1st quarter of the 12th century, Durham
Latin / Old English
Symeon of Durham
Usage terms

Public Domain in most countries other than the UK.

Held by
British Library
Cotton MS Faustina A V

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