This section describes all the manuscripts that preserve all or part of one or more of the texts edited in this book. In a study of this nature, one is continually indebted to the work of N. R. Ker, in particular his Catalogue of Manuscripts Containing Anglo-Saxon (Oxford, 1957). This chapter, designed to be used in conjunction with Ker's Catalogue, will focus purely on the relevant folios relating to the texts here edited. The manuscript sigla used throughout are based primarily on Godden (1979)(1) with some necessary modifications. For points of major palaeographical interest relating to the manuscripts see the appropriate Notes.
C= Cambridge, MS Corpus Christi College 303.
E= Cambridge, MS Corpus Christi College 198.
J= British Library, MS Cotton Julius E. vii (Pope's W).
L= Cambridge, University Library, MS Ii.i.33.
M= Oxford, Bodleian, MS Laud Misc. 381 (new siglum required as not used by Godden).
O= British Library, MS Cotton Otho B. x (Godden's fi).
P= Oxford, Bodleian, MS Hatton 115 (5135).
Q= Cambridge, Queen's College, MS Horne 75 (new siglum required as not used by Godden or Pope).
R= Cambridge, MS Corpus Christi College 178.
V= British Library, MS Cotton Vitellius D.xvii (Godden's fk).
A = Assmann's edition (1889).
Sk = Skeat's edition in Lives of Saints (1966).
W = H. Wanley, Librorum Veterum Septentrionalium Catalogus, in G. Hickes, Linguarum Veterum Septentrionalium Thesaurus (Oxford, 1705).
C= Cambridge, Corpus Christi College, MS 303, pp. 341-62 (Ker, 1957, #57, pp. 99105)
Dated by Ker as originating from the early part of the twelfth century, this manuscript contains a selection from both series of Ælfric's Catholic Homilies, together with some other works. Pages 34162 contain all of the Maccabees and the more complete version of Judith (ll. 1329). The text, appearance, and format of these pages is the same as for the whole manuscript. This is the base manuscript for Judith.
E= Cambridge, Corpus Christi College, MS 198, ff.328-42v (Ker, 1957, #48, pp. 7682)
This manuscript contains a collection of homilies written in the early eleventh century (ff. 1-149, 160-217, 248-87); additional homilies, probably contemporary (ff. 150-9, 218-47, 288-321r, 328-66, 378-94); and homilies inserted in the later part of the eleventh century (ff. 321v, 322-27, 367-77). All the lines of the Maccabees are contained on ff. 328-42v(2), beginning Æfter ðam ðe.... A capital Æ is offset in the margin at the beginning of the text, and at the top of the folio there is the additional title of Reliquiæ libri Machabeorum. Each folio contains twenty-six lines of script, with the hand being that of the sixth scribe identified by Ker, i.e Anglo-Saxon minuscule of the square type. There are interlinear glosses throughout in the tremulous hand. Punctuation is by the punctus, with twelve chapter divisions in Roman numerals, e.g. f. 331r, l. 19. Note also a paragraphus on f.337r and f.340r; and crist on f.339v at l.19 is given a capital c set into the left hand margin. The ruling is not visible, but appropriate pricking appears down the margins of each leaf.
J= British Library, MS Cotton Julius E. vii, ff.139v53 (Ker, 1957, #162, pp. 20610)
This is one of the major manuscripts containing Ælfric's Lives of Saints series(3). Folios 139v153 of the manuscript contain the complete Maccabees. They are clearly written as part of the manuscript as a whole and conform to all the observations made by Ker. This is the base manuscript for the Maccabees.
L= Cambridge, University Library, MS Ii.i.33, ff.18593v (Ker, 1957, #18, pp. 2327)
These folios contain the third largest witness of the Maccabees, with only the beginning lines missing (i.e. it retains ll. 283703). Folio size is c.220 x 158mm, with written space occupying 165170 x 110120mm, and there are usually twenty-four lines on each page. Punctuation is by the punctus and the use of a capital letter at the beginning of each sentence. There is a late gloss of elefanz on f.189r, l. 8, which Ker dates as thirteenth century. There are no major holes or rips.
M= Oxford, Bodleian, MS. Laud Misc. 381, ff. 140v-148 (Ker, 1957, #410, p. 473)
This early seventeenth-century transcription is mentioned very briefly by Ker on p. 473:
330 lines of rhythmic prose in the hand of William Lisle under the title Be Hester...Lisle gives no indication of the source from which he obtained his text.
Ker gives no further details of the manuscript's contents, although it also contains a lengthy series of transcriptions by L'Isle from various other homilies by Ælfric, plus some archaized extracts from the Ancrene Wisse(4). The transcript of Esther on ff. 140v148 is the only surviving copy of Ælfric's homily. All the lines presented in this edition are drawn from these folios. The Old English is presented on the verso with L'Isle's translation on the recto. This is used as the base manuscript for Esther.
O= British Library, MS. Cotton Otho B.x, ff.29 & 30 (Ker, 1957, #177/8, pp. 224-29)
The manuscript, dated by Ker as originating from the early part of the eleventh century, was damaged in the 1731 fire at the Cottonian Library. Consequently it is in a very bad state of repair. Modern technology allows a clearer view of the script via ultra-violet light, and for some folios this is the only means of reading the text(5). In addition to the poor quality of the surviving membrane, there are also problems with the incorrect binding of some folios when the manuscript was re-assembled. In order to read the manuscript in the correct order, one must look to Wanley's Catalogue (1705, p. 190).
Folios 29 and 30 contain fragments of a second Judith manuscript. On the recto of each leaf, the card surrounds bear the title art. 19. Judith and Holofernis. Furthermore, the membrane of f.29 is numbered 144 in the top right hand corner of the recto. F. 29 measures 215 x 140mm, with written space 110 x 180mm. The text on each side is in one block of 30 lines and there is no evidence of pricking and ruling. A large rip on the outward edge disrupts the text at ll. 5-6 of both sides but nothing is lost. F. 30 measures 200 x 145mm, with written space 110 x 175mm.The text is written in one block of 30 lines on each side. There is no evidence again of pricking or ruling. There is a hole at l. 19 of f.30r, and l. 20 of f.30v but no text is lost. A rip in the right hand margin disrupts ll. 17-18 of both sides but again, no text is lost.
The writing for both leaves is in a round hand, with l. 25 of f. 29r and l. 6 of f.2 9v displaying a carolingian g instead of the more usual Anglo-Saxon minuscule. There are several glosses by the tremulous hand, but these are now virtually illegible.
P= Oxford, Bodleian, MS Hatton 115 (5135), ff.5859v (Ker, 1957, #115, pp. 399403)
These folios provide a version of the Item Alia which ends the Maccabees (ll. 72473). Each folio measures c.248 x 160mm, with written space occupying 195 x 100mm, which is 27 lines (in keeping with the major parts of the manuscript). Ruling is heavy, but in keeping with the norm; and the hand is that of the main one for the MS as a whole, i.e. Anglo-Saxon minuscule of the rounded type. The text begins with a large initial I, highlighted in red.
Q= Cambridge, Queen's College, MS Horne 75 (Ker, 1957, #81, pp. 12728)
MS Q is just two binding strips taken from a lost Ælfric manuscript(6). Strip 1 measures 280-90 x 55-62mm, with written space 250 x 55-62mm; strip 2, 210-300 x 40-62mm, written space 252 x 40-45mm. Each contains thirty-two lines of text. Strip 1 was taken from the middle of a leaf, and strip 2 from the outer margin. The latter shows clear signs of pricking, and possibly those of ruling in hardpoint. The strips themselves are set in paper mounts. They contain the opening few lines of the Maccabees.
R= Cambridge, Corpus Christi College, MS 178, pp. 1389 (Ker, 1957, #41A & 41B, pp. 604)
This manuscript contains the Item Alia of the Maccabees (ll. 72273). This is contained on pp. 138-39, beginning Git iss to witanne... A capital G is offset into the margin at the beginning of the text, and the title is centred occupying a single line. Punctuation throughout is by the use of the punctus to denote ends of sentences and pauses.
Each page contains 30 lines of script, with the relevant text beginning on l. 5 of p. 138, and ending on l. 23 of p. 139. The hand is that of the main scribe of section A of the manuscript, namely Anglo-Saxon minuscule of the round type. There is no glossing on either page, and, as with the rest of the manuscript, there are no obvious signs of pricking or ruling.
V= British Library, MS Cotton Vitellius D. xvii, f. 41 (Ker, 1957, #222, pp. 2928)
This manuscript, badly damaged in the fire of 1731, has been reassembled, not, it would appear, with complete accuracy. Ker notes that it is not in an orderly arrangement (p. 292) and that the extant leaves are disarranged (p. 293). The size of the fragment is c.115 x 70mm at its maximum, with the written space occupying c.105 x 60mm. The fragment is in relatively good condition and with the aid of ultra-violet light its letters can be made out reasonably well. It is written in Ker's first hand, which can be distinguished by the prominent ð. No ruling or pricking is evident.
(1) In Godden's work, British Library, MS Cotton Vitellius D. xvii, and British Library, MS Cotton Otho B. x are given the notation fk and fi respectively. As these are two major manuscripts for this edition, their sigla have been changed to the easier V and O. The notation for British Library, MS Cotton Julius E.vii of W clashes with the notation for Wanley, and thus the former has been altered to J. Furthermore, Cambridge, Queen's College, MS Horne 75 was not used by either Pope or Godden and thus the sign of Q is new; similarly Oxford, Bodleian, MS Laud Misc. 381, has been given the notation M. [To return to the appropriate part of the text click here.]
(2) N.B. Ker notes the item as only covering 328-41v as he does not view the Item Alia as being part of the Maccabees.[To return to the appropriate part of the text click here.]
(3) It is used here as the base manuscript for the Maccabees. [To return to the appropriate part of the text click here.]
(4) See S. D. Lee, Oxford, Bodleian Library, MS Laud Misc. 381: William L'Isle, Ælfric, and the Ancrene Wisse in (ed.) T. Graham (forthcoming). [To return to the appropriate part of the text click here.]
(5) See S. D. Lee, Two Fragments from Cotton MS. Otho B. x, British Library Journal 17.1 (Spring, 1991), pp. 8387. [To return to the appropriate part of the text click here.]
(6) For full details and facsimiles see R. L. Collins and P. Clemoes, The Common Origin of Ælfric Fragments at New Haven, Oxford, Cambridge, and Bloomington in (eds.) R. B. Burlin and E. B. Irving, Old English Studies in Honour of J. C. Pope (Toronto, 1974), pp. 285326. [To return to the appropriate part of the text click here.]