Medieval manuscripts blog

Bringing our medieval manuscripts to life


What do Magna Carta, Beowulf and the world's oldest Bibles have in common? They are all cared for by the British Library's Medieval and Earlier Manuscripts Section. This blog publicises our digitisation projects and other activities. Follow us on Twitter: @blmedieval. Read more

14 July 2017

The Heliand

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The British Library is currently engaged in a joint project with the Bibliothèque nationale de France to digitise 800 manuscripts made in and around the regions of England and France before 1200. Some people have asked if that means the project will only cover manuscripts in Old English, Old French or Anglo-Norman French. On the contrary! The project covers a variety of different languages, because many different languages were written, spoken and studied in those regions before 1200. The first 100 manuscripts digitised include many texts in Latin, as well as more obscure languages, such as Old Occitan, spoken around the area that is now southern France (Harley MS 2928). Another recently digitised manuscript includes one of the few major works in Old Saxon: the Heliand poem, copied perhaps in England or decorated by someone who was influenced by English styles in the second half of the 10th century.

Opening page of the Heliand, Cotton MS Caligula A VII, f. 11r

Old Saxon was a language spoken in the north of the region which is now Germany. Very few texts or copies of texts written in Old Saxon survive today: at just under 6000 verses, the Heliand is the longest Old Saxon text now known. It is preserved, with some lacunae, in two manuscripts (one at the British Library, one in Munich,  Bayerische Staatsbibliothek, Cgm 25) and in several other small fragments, such as the folio held in the Deutsches Historisches Museum in Berlin.

Beginning of the second fitt, Cotton MS Caligula A VII, f. 13r

The Heliand is a retelling of the life of Jesus. It was translated both into the Old Saxon language and into the attitudes and social structure found in warrior epics. John the Baptist is characterised as Christ’s ‘warrior companion’ (gesið), while the disciples become ‘earls’ (erlos). This poem may originally have been sung or recited out loud: the text is divided into fitts, or songs. Like modern day TV episodes, these would have provided reasonably sized chunks of a longer saga.

The Heliand may have been composed in the early 9th century, presumably in the eastern regions of the Carolingian empire. A preface from a now lost manuscript that was copied in 1562 claims that a ruler called 'Louis' — perhaps Charlemagne's son Louis the Pious (d. 840) or Louis the German (d. 876) — ordered scriptures to be translated into Germanic languages (Germanic lingua). However, most scholars think the British Library’s copy of the Heliand was made more than a century later, by an English scribe or by someone who was influenced by English manuscripts because the marginal Latin notes and the style of decoration resemble styles found in English manuscripts. Compare the biting beasties in initials in the Heliand with those in the Tollemache Orosius (Add MS 47967) and a copy of the Rule of St Benedict (Harley MS 5431).

Initial Comparisons
Details of zoomorphic initials from the Heliand,
England?, c. 950-1000, Cotton MS Caligula A VII, ff. 132r, 46r; the Tollemache Orosius, England (Winchester?), c. 900-925, Add MS 47967, f. 48v; the Rule of St Benedict, England, c. 975–1000, Harley MS 5431, f. 73v, 74r

Whether or not the manuscript was made by an English scribe or in England, marginal notes in the Anglo-Saxon script known as square minuscule suggest it was owned in England shortly after it was made. It is not known why an Anglo-Saxon, or someone who could produce English styles of script and book production, possessed a copy of the Heliand. However, there were many links between Anglo-Saxons and Old Saxon-speaking regions. As the ‘Saxon’ part of the names Anglo-Saxon, East Saxon (Essex) and West Saxon (Wessex) suggest, some Anglo-Saxons believed they were descended from Saxon or Saxon-speaking immigrants to the British Isles. Anglo-Saxon groups continued to have ties to Saxon-speaking areas through missionary and ecclesiastical activities, marriage alliances and travellers, among others. The Heliand manuscript provides an important reminder of all those ties and of all the languages that were spoken, studied and copied in England over 1000 years ago.


La British Library s’est associée à la Bibliothèque nationale de France dans le cadre d’un projet de numérisation de 800 manuscrits élaborés en France et en Angleterre avant 1200. La grande variété des oeuvres sélectionnées s’entend également par la diversité des langues représentées. Les 100 premiers manuscrits numérisés comprennent des textes latins, mais également des œuvres écrites dans des langues moins communes, telles que l’ancien occitan, un dialecte parlé dans le sud de la France (Harley MS 2928), ou le vieux saxon, une forme ancienne du bas-allemand.

Un manuscrit récemment numérisé contient l’un des rares écrits composés en vieux saxon : l’Heliand.  Ce volume de la seconde moitié du Xe siècle fut peut-être copié en en Angleterre. Avec ses 6000 vers, l’Heliand constitue l’œuvre en vieux saxon la plus importante qui nous soit parvenue. Elle est transmise avec plus ou moins de lacunes dans deux manuscrits, l’un à la British Library, l’autre à Munich (Bayerische Staatsbibliothek, Cgm 25), ainsi qu’à l’état de fragments.

L’Heliand est une réécriture de la vie du Christ, probablement composée au début du IXe siècle, dans l’Est de l’empire carolingien. Dans ce poème épique, le Christ prend les traits d’un prince germanique, Saint Jean devient un guerrier, tandis que les disciples endossent le rôle de comtes. Cette œuvre était sans doute chantée ou contée oralement.

Les chercheurs s’accordent à dire que l’exemplaire de la British Library fut élaboré plus d’un siècle après la composition du poème, et qu’il fut copié par un scribe anglais, ou du moins, un copiste influencé par des manuscrits insulaires. Les annotations marginales en latin ainsi que le style de la décoration sont similaires à des volumes d’origine anglaise de la même période. Que ce manuscrit ait été copié ou non par un scribe anglais, les annotations en minuscule anglo-saxonne laissent penser que le manuscrit franchit très tôt la Manche. Il faut dire qu’il existait des liens étroits tant entre le vieil anglais et le vieux saxon, qu’entre les populations qui usaient de ces dialectes. Les anglo-saxons considéraient d’ailleurs descendre des saxons. Le manuscrit de l’Heliand constitue un précieux témoignage de ces échanges culturels et linguistiques. Il permet également de rappeler que les manuscrits copiés et lus en Angleterre, ne se limitaient pas aux textes en vieil anglais et en latin, mais englobaient une plus large aire culturelle.

Alison Hudson and Laure Miolo

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12 July 2017

The Lindisfarne Gospels in the Treasures Gallery

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As regular readers of this Blog will know, the display of the Lindisfarne Gospels follows a conservation programme recommended by an international committee of experts. When it is out in the Library’s Sir John Ritblat Treasures Gallery, we turn a page every three months, in order to show visitors a different view of it, and to limit the amount of light on any one opening. In the spring, we displayed one of the book’s wonderful canon tables, but from this month you can see the beginning of the summary for the Gospel of John. 


Decorated word ‘Johannes’ (John) with the word ‘evangelista’ (evangelist) below, from Cotton MS Nero D IV, f. 203v

The Lindisfarne Gospels is one of the most well-known of all English manuscripts, renowned both for the intricacy and beauty of its decoration, and for its importance as the earliest surviving example of the Gospels in English. The Gospels was written by one scribe, who was probably also responsible for the remarkable initials throughout the volume.  According to an inscription added at the end of the manuscript in the late 10th century, that scribe and artist was a monk called Eadfrith, who served as bishop of Lindisfarne from 698 to 721. 

The man who added the inscription, Aldred, the provost at Chester-le-Street just north of Durham, also added Old English words above the Latin text. Throughout the text is divided into two columns, with Aldred’s Old English translation above each Latin word in small letters.

In the opening now on display in the gallery, visitors can see the decorated word is ‘Iohannes’ (John), and just below it, the word ‘evangelista’ (evangelist), which is translated by the English word ‘godspellere’ directly above it. On the opposite page, the opening words of a summary of John’s Gospel ‘In the beginning’ are so highly decorated that they can be difficult to make out: ‘In Prin[cipio]’ with the last part of the word on the next line (The ‘P’ looks a bit like a modern ‘B’).


Decorated words ‘In Prin[cipio]’ (In the beginning), opening words of John’s Gospel, from Cotton MS Nero D IV, f. 204r

If you can’t make it to London to see this display, check it out online on our Digitised Manuscripts site. You can use the terrific zoom feature to really analyse the text and the wonderful initials.

The manuscript is also included as the second entry in a recent publication featuring some of the most beautiful Bibles in the Library’s collections, The Art of the Bible (Thames and Hudson and the British Library, 2016).

Kathleen Doyle

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09 July 2017

It's Caption Competition Time!

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There are many ideal ways to spend a sunny summer weekend. One is to visit the beach, another to watch the cricket at Lord's or the Wimbledon tennis (quaint British customs), a third is to set fire to the garden with your annual barbecue. But perhaps the most fiendish of all sunshine pursuits is to attempt to come up with a witty answer for our world famous (our words) caption competition.

So please put your thinking hats on and tell us what is going on in this picture. A quick clue: the image is taken from the Splendor Solis,a  famous alchemical manuscript made in Germany in 1582 (Harley MS 3469). The manuscript in question is currently on display in Berlin (until 23 July). But what exactly is going on here? Answers via Twitter please or through the comments page below this post. We'll retweet and publish the best (and most amusing) answers.


08 July 2017

The Mystery of Sappho

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This weekend is part of the Pride Festival in London, which made us reflect on Sappho. Sappho was one of the first known female poets, and the first woman known to write poems in Greek. Very few fragments of her work survive, and it has sometimes been suggested that they were suppressed on account of her sexuality: but to what extent is that really true?

Here at the British Library we have a real connection to Sappho. The earliest extant records describe her as a woman from the island of Lesbos, who lived and worked in the 7th century BCE. She is believed to have composed over 10,000 lines of lyrical poetry and to have invented a special type of musical verse that still bears her name. This extraordinary legacy meant she was very highly esteemed in Antiquity: some even regarded her as the 'tenth muse'. Despite this long-standing fame, most of Sappho's poems are lost. Only a couple of fragments and some other lines survive; one of those precious fragments is preserved at the British Library (Papyrus 739), and is available to view on our Digitised Manuscripts site. But what was the cause of this devastating loss?

Fragment of a poem by Sappho concerning her brother Charaxus, 3rd century CE, Papyrus 739

There has been much speculation as to why a fraction of Sappho's poetry survives. Some have suggested this can be attributed to Sappho’s sexuality. Sappho wrote several love poems apparently about other women. An early and very short biography found on a papyrus from the 3rd century was one of the earliest surviving sources to mention her as a 'woman-lover', although the writer claimed that this was only an 'accusation'. 16th-century humanist scholars claimed that 4th-century Greek and Latin Church authorities had arranged for the systematic destruction of Sappho’s poems as a result. Her sexuality is also one of the primary features for which she is remembered today: the modern terms 'Lesbian' and 'sapphic' are references to Sappho, and her name was adopted by a gay rights magazine (on show in the British Library's current exhibition, Gay UK).

Miniature of Sappho and her companions, from a Dutch translation of Christine de Pizan’s Livre de la Cité des Dames, Bruges, 1475, Add MS 20698, f. 73r

Sappho's famous love life is only a part of her complicated life story and the later reception of her work. Despite 16th-century claims, Sappho and her work remained admired in the Middle Ages, even as much of her poetry was also lost. Her poetic fragments were quoted by Gregory of Nazianzus, one of the 4th-century churchmen who allegedly opposed her writings. Later, the loss of Sappho's poems was painfully lamented by the 12th-century Byzantine scholar John Tzetzes. In the 14th century, Boccacio and Christine de Pizan still celebrated Sappho as a woman of incomparable beauty and erudition in both natural sciences and poetry.

Several scholars now think there is a simpler explanation for the failure of medieval copyists' failure to preserve Sappho's poetry — they couldn't understand it! She wrote in an ancient and old-fashioned Greek which was not widely understood in the early Middle Ages. This is not to say that later writers approved of her affairs. The 3rd-century BCE biography frames the first stories about her attraction to women as rumours, while later Christian writers used the example of Sappho to argue against pagan lasciviousness. In other cases, Sappho was not always understood to be a homosexual by later writers. She was regularly portrayed in Athenian comedies as a voracious heterosexual, and there were  other stories about her  love affairs with men: some of them speak about her marriage and possibly even record the name of her daughter, while a later anecdote claims she committed suicide because of a young man called Phaon.

The British Library has a unique 3rd-century CE fragment that lets us go beyond these layers of later tradition and leads us back to one of Sappho’s original works (Papyrus 739). This papyrus, found in Egypt, preserves a poetic fragment in Sappho’s characteristic metre which was proved to come from the lost first volume of her collected poetry. She prays for her brother’s return from Egypt 'with many supplications, that he may come here steering his ship unharmed and find us women safe and sound.' Surrendering to fate, she goes on 'and the rest, let’s entrust it all to the gods, for calm suddenly follows great storms.'

The entry for Sapphos’ brother Charaxos in a 15th century copy of a Byzantine encyclopedia (suidas), Add MS 11893, f. 359v

In the last couple of years, several new fragments of Sappho’s poems discovered. Some of them even complement the British Library’s fragmentary papyrus, creating an almost complete poem. So, after almost 3000 years of 'great storms' of controversy in Sappho’s posthumous reputation, there might now be some calm to regain more of the lost poetry of this iconic female writer.

Girl with a lyre of the sort Sappho may have played, from the Theodore Psalter (Constantinople, 1066), Add MS 19352, f. 191r

Peter Toth

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04 July 2017

A recipe for disaster? Medieval fireworks

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Fireworks have been used for centuries for entertainment. Their use in England was first recorded in 1486 at the wedding of King Henry VII. As well as a form of entertainment, fireworks were also of scientific interest in the medieval period as they could potentially be used as a form of gunpowder in warfare. A 14th-century English collection of medical recipes and experimental science (now known as British Library Royal MS 12 B XXV) contains recipes for fireworks, rockets and the burning glass. The opening recipe refers to Greek fire, an incendiary weapon first used by Byzantine forces against Arabic naval fleets during sieges on Constantinople in the late 7th century. We have not provided a translation to prevent our more foolhardy readers from attempting the recipe at home!

Light my fire: ‘Puluis ad ignem grecum iactandum ita fiet’, opening line to a recipe for fireworks, from Royal MS 12 B XXV, f. 245r

Miniature of a Greek fire burning Turks as a result of a miraculous change of wind, and Robert of Nazareth praying, from William of Tyre’s Histoire d’Outremer, c. 1479–1480, Royal MS 15 E I, f. 266r

Fireworks can be dangerous, so it should be no surprise that this manuscript also contains a number of protective charms, including against fire. The protective charms against fire invoke St Columcille (also known as Columba and Columkill) and St Agatha for protection. St Agatha was a patron saint against fire, lightning and volcanic eruptions. Protective charms may seem unorthodox to us today, but they were often employed in the same manner as medical recipes and religious prayers. Henry VII himself ruled England as a Catholic nation, but also it is believed he was presented with the luxury illustrated book of astrological treatises and political prophecies now known as Arundel MS 66, which contains the king’s portrait as he is presented with the work. This book may have come in handy; the stars were believed to exert powerful influences upon human character and affairs.

Charmed, I’m sure: Protective charms in Latin invoking St Agatha and St Columcille against fire, from Royal MS 12 B XXV, f. 283v

Detail of an historiated initial with the presentation of an astrological textbook to Henry VII, England, c. 1490, from Arundel MS 66, f. 201r

But if you must play with fire(works), we hope you have a St Catherine’s Wheel ready! This classic pinwheel firework is named for St Catherine of Alexandria, who according to legend was sent to be executed on the back-breaking spiked wheel, but it miraculously broke apart the moment Catherine touched it. Find out more about the popular medieval saint here.

Royal 2 B VII f. 283
‘Cause baby you’re a firework: Detail of a bas-de-page image of St Catherine praying and angels breaking apart the spiked wheel, from the Queen Mary Psalter, England, 1310-1320,  Royal MS 2 B VII, f. 283r

Alison Ray

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01 July 2017

A calendar page for July 2017

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It’s July, which means 2017 is now halfway through — time to check in with the fantastic calendar of Additional MS 36684 for a look at the 7th month! If you’d like to know more about this Book of Hours, check out January’s post, and for more on medieval calendars in general, please see our calendar post from 2011. 

Fig 2_add_ms_36684_f008r Fig 2_add_ms_36684_f008r
Calendar pages for July, from a Book of Hours, St Omer or Théouranne, c. 1320, Add MS 36684, ff. 7v–8r

The marginal decoration for July is a riotous combination of brightly-coloured birds and butterflies, contorted human/animal hybrids, and a few marginal figures participating in warm-weather activities. The first is the man (or woman?) taking a nice relaxing bath in the lower left margin of the first calendar page.

Bathing man_add_ms_36684_f007v
Detail of a figure bathing, Add MS 36684, f. 7v

The second figure, to the right of the labour of the month (more on him in a minute), holds what appears to be a candle in each hand, perhaps a reference to the necessity of making candles in the summer, while the days are longer, in preparation for the dark winter months.

Detail of a figure holding candles, Add MS 36684, f. 7v

The labour of the month, dressed for warm weather in a short tunic and hat, holds the two handles on the shaft of his long, curved scythe. Within his architectural niche, he is pictured on grass, against a gold background reminiscent of the wheat traditionally harvested by July’s labour of the month.

Detail of a labour of the month for July, Add MS 36684, f. 7v

On the following folio, below the many saints’ days celebrated in the latter part of July — including St James the Apostle and Mary Magdalene — is the zodiac figure of Leo in his tiny Gothic niche. Leo, traditionally a symbol of fortitude, looks particularly happy in this instance, and rather than being painted a usual golden colour, is instead a dark grey with white accents — likely to contrast with the gold leaf background. Leo is flanked by two green hybrid animals and their instruments, posted on either side of his niche.

Detail of Leo, Add MS 36684, f. 8r

We hope you enjoy exploring the many figures and decoration for the July calendar pages in Additional MS 36684 – let us know your favourite! And remember, you can see all of Additional MS 36684 online on Digitised Manuscripts. Stay cool, medieval enthusiasts!

Taylor McCall
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30 June 2017

Making a good impression

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The British Library does not only contain books — it holds items from ancient Chinese oracle bones to Jane Austen's spectacles. Recently, I've been working with some of the British Library's collection of seals (the wax kind, not the animal kind), and have been particularly intrigued by the seal of St Edith (b. 961x964, d. 984x987), daughter of King Edgar, used by Wilton Abbey throughout the Middle Ages. The text and images on Edith's seal, which was seemingly designed during her lifetime, give a rare contemporary insight into the priorities, identities and possibly even the jewellery of a young princess in late 10th-century England. 

Edith was a member of the royal family and was declared a saint relatively soon after her death, but there are few contemporary references to her. She is not mentioned by name in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, and the most detailed accounts of her life were written almost a century after her lifetime.

Harley Ch  45 A 36 (1)
Detail of the seal of Edith attached to Harley Charter 45 A 36

Edith was the daughter of King Edgar (r. 958/9-975) and a woman called Wulfthryth. Wulfthryth and Edith both ended up in the nunnery of Wilton; Edgar subsequently married Ælfthryth, the mother of the future Æthelred the Unready. According to her later hagiographer, Goscelin (d. c. 1107), King Edgar arranged for Edith to be educated by two foreign chaplains, Radbod of Rheims and Benno of Trier.

Detail of a witness list describing Edith's stepmother, 
Ælfthryth, as Edgar’s ‘legitimate spouse’, from the New Minster Refoundation Charter, England (Winchester), c. 966: Cotton MS Vespasian A VIII, ff. 30v–31r

While there are few contemporary references to Edith, one of her possessions may literally have left its mark. A charter for Wilton Abbey dated 1372 bears a seal in Edith’s name. The seal impression features 10th-century artistic styles and it may be an imprint of Edith’s own seal matrix. Here, ‘seals’ refer to wax impressions made with engraved metal or ivory objects, called seal matrice. They conveyed authority, assuring the recipient that they could trust a particular document or messenger. By the late 10th and early 11th century, many elite Anglo-Saxons may have had their own seals, including kings, nobles and churches. However, very few Anglo-Saxon seals survive; only 7 existing seal matrices can be dated before 1066. This impression of Edith's seal gives a rare glimpse into the sorts of seals that may have existed in the 10th century and how this particular woman may have wished to be characterised. 

Harley Ch  45 A 36 (2)
Harley Charter 45 A 36

The seal's inscription emphasises Edith's royal status: ‘Sigil Eadgyðe Re[ga]l[is] [Ad]elphe’ (‘The seal of Edith, the royal sister’). Edith’s half-brothers, Edward the Martyr and Æthelred the Unready, reigned from  975 to 978 and 978 to 1016 respectively. The term ‘royal sister’ may also be an oblique reference to Edith’s status as a nun, devoted to Christ the Heavenly king.

The use of the Greek term adelphi or adelpha instead of soror, the more common Latin term for 'sister', also tells us something about the way Edith may have wished to be portrayed. Edith lived in a time when learning and book production were being promoted by wealthy monastic reformers. Obscure, Greek-influenced vocabulary was particularly popular in reformed monasteries. Female houses are now beginning to be acknowledged in the history of the revival of learning with monastic reform, and Edith’s seal shows that she or whoever made it aspired to the standards of the learned elite and their expansive vocabularies.   

Greek letters transliterating the phrase 'Explicit Liber Psychomachian', from a copy of Prudentius's Psychomachia, England, late 10th or early 11th century, Cotton MS Cleopatra C VIII, f. 37r

The seal also depicts a woman, presumably Edith, as its central image. This veiled woman is probably an idealized figure, rather than a specific portrait. Catherine Karkov has noted that her pose, attire and accessories strongly resemble the miniatures of women in the Benedictional made for the monastic reformer St Æthelwold, bishop of Winchester (d. 984), which was probably made around the same time as the seal.

Miniature of St
Æthelthryth, from the Benedictional of St Æthelwold made by Godeman, England, c. 963–984, Add MS 49598, f. 90v

It's a pity if the seal does not give a clear idea of Edith's appearance, because her fashion sense was legendary for centuries after her death. One of the most memorable anecdotes in Goscelin of Saint-Bertin’s Life of St Edith, written around the 1080s, describes Edith fighting with St Æthelwold over her elaborate attire:

‘Blessed bishop Æthelwold once warned [Edith], with her rather ornate habit… ‘O daughter, not in these garments does one approach the marriage chamber of Christ, nor is the heavenly bridegroom pleased with exterior elegance.’ [Edith replied…] ‘Believe, reverend father, a mind by no means poorer in aspiring to God will live beneath this covering than beneath a goatskin. I possess my Lord, who pays attention to the mind, not to the clothing...’ (Goscelin, Vita S Edithae, chapters 12 and 13, trans. by Stephanie Hollis, Writing the Wilton Women (Turnhout: Brepols, 2004), pp. 42–43)

At this stage, according to Goscelin, Æthelwold conceded defeat. A fire at the monastery vindicated Edith’s dress sense: most of the nuns’ possessions were destroyed but Edith’s fine leather and purple attire was miraculously spared:

‘When they unfolded the garments, made of skin or of purple, and of the everlasting guardian, all the things were found to be as they had been before the fire, unharmed by all the burning… although, from the nature of their material, they ought to have been more inflammable.’

DC C 3 (2)
Copy of the seal of Edith from Harley Charter 45 A 36, Doubleday Cast C. 3

Goscelin may have made this story up: it provided a convenient opportunity for him to compare the unburnt clothes to Edith’s intact virginity. However, he may have learned this story from the community at Wilton, to whom he was the chaplain. If so, the community may have wanted to remember a young princess who dressed exactly as she liked, regardless of a bishop’s disapproval. And the seal matrix itself may itself have been part Edith’s flashy attire: the later impressions show that Edith’s seal matrix had a large handle made to look like acanthus leaves, which could have been attached to a belt or a necklace.

Harley Ch  45 A 36 (1)

Detail of the imprint of a handle from Edith’s seal, Harley Charter 45 A 36

The nuns of Wilton remembered Edith for centuries after her death. Her seal was used throughout the abbey’s history, right up until the Dissolution of the Monasteries. The final document showing the last abbess of Wilton using Edith’s seal dates from 1536, about 550 years after Edith died.

Alison Hudson

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27 June 2017

Curator, Early Modern Collections

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The British Library is recruiting for a Curator of Early Modern Collections. This is a full time, fixed term position, for six months. Full details of the post and how to apply can be found here.

As Curator of Early Modern Collections, you will assist lead curators in the Department of Western Heritage Collections with preparations for an exhibition on 16th-century British History to be held at the British Library in 2020–21. You will also use your specialist knowledge to catalogue early modern manuscripts and will help to interpret and present the Library’s early modern collections through online resources and engagement with academic and general users.


Detail from Elizabeth I’s autograph speech dissolving Parliament, in which she rebukes ministers for their unwelcome ‘lip-laboured orations’ on the matter of her marriage and succession, January 1567: British Library Cotton Charter IV. 38 (2)

With a post-graduate degree, or equivalent, in 16th-century British history, you will have research experience using early modern manuscripts and printed books and a personal area of expertise relevant to the British Library’s collection. Strong palaeographical skills, excellent written and oral communication skills in English and the ability to promote the collections to a wide range of audiences are essential.

The deadline for applications is 11 July 2017, and interviews will be held on 20 July  2017.

Curator, Early Modern Collections (reference COL1309)


The first page of William Cecil’s paper on ‘Things to be considered upon the Scottish Queen coming into England’, May 1568: British Library Cotton MS Caligula C I, f. 97.

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