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Volume / Number: 2 / 187

CLA 187
  • London United Kingdom British Library Cotton MS Nero D. IV
Script Anglo-Saxon Majuscule
Date VII–VIII (680 - 720)
Origin and Provenance

Origin Lindisfarne; according to the tenth-century colophon entered by the glossator Aldred on fol. 259 the MS was written by Eadfrith, Bishop of Lindisfarne (698–721); it was bound by Bishop Aethelwald (724–40) and ornamented on the outside by Billfrith, the anchorite, and glossed more than two centuries later in Anglo-Saxon by Aldred, 'a most miserable priest'. Palaeographically this tradition is perfectly acceptable. Text agrees closely with Amiatinus, even in errors. Lists of Neapolitan feasts are found before Mark and Luke, as in London Royal MS I. B. VII (CLA 2.213). The MS accompanied the relics of St Cuthbert during their wanderings between 875 and 883 to Chester-le-Street and in 995 by way of Ripon to Durham, where it probably remained till the sixteenth century (though it has been identified with a book in a Lindisfarne inventory of 1367). Sir Robert Cotton acquired it directly or indirectly from Robert Bowyer, Clerk of the Parliaments under James I, at the beginning of the seventeenth century.

CLA Vol. 2
TM Number TM 66291
Support Parchment
Contents Testamentum Novum, Evangelia (Mt, Mc, Lc, Io).
Name Lindisfarne Gospels. Codex Lindisfarnensis.
Script Commentary

Written apparently by one scribe. Script is a handsome and graceful Anglo-Saxon majuscule—one of the noblest examples of Insular calligraphy by an English pen, despite inequalities in execution: , N, and S have normally the uncial form, r usually the minuscule form; uncial A, and G occur; Y has two forms: the usual form, and one with both branches bent to the right; to save space, usually at line-ends, the scribe resorts to the trick of 'stilting' or raising the letter above the line or placing it sideways; suprascript U at line-ends resembles a shallow bow and occurs even in ligature with the M placed sideways; G in ligature with N or r resembles an elongated s; in the ligatures IT and NT the T is barely suggested by the horizontal to the right at the top of the I or second upright of N, a feature also observable in the Book of Durrow (CLA 2.273). Greek letters are found in the ornamental lines after an initial. The interlinear gloss is in Anglo-Saxon minuscule of the tenth century.


☛CLA first-edition date (VIII in) changed to follow second edition. ☛McGurk, Gospel books no. 22. ☛Gamber, CLLA 405. ☛Steffens, Paléographie latine, Pl. 31.

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Last modified 05 April 2022