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The 1270s, in the Chronicle of Melrose Abbey

The 1270s, in the Chronicle of Melrose Abbey

Medium: Ink and pigments on vellum

Date: 1270

Shelfmark: Cotton MS Faustina B IX

Item number: f.55r

Length: 26.8

Width: 18

Scale: Centimetres

Genre: Illuminated manuscript

Melrose Abbey was founded in 1136 by King David of Scotland, five miles from the ancient monastery where St Cuthbert lived as a young monk in the 7th century. The 12th-century Melrose was run by the Cistercian monks, an important order of the later middle ages who were influential in England and became more so in the following years. This manuscript, the only surviving ancient copy of the Chronicle, begins with the year 735. Its first section, up to the mid-12th century, was compiled from earlier histories, but from that point it seems to have been written at the monastery and records contemporary events. This makes it an important source of information for the later 12th through 1270, when it terminates suddenly. It is moving to see the styles of handwriting change as one leafs through the Chronicle, because this shows the passing on of the task of recording from one generation to the next. This page begins a section in a new handwriting, starting with the year 1276. Here deeds of nobles, abbots, kings and bishops continue to be recorded more or less contemporaneously with their occurrence. Blank spaces were left to record news received perhaps months after the actual event.

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