London, British Library, Harley 3667 Computistica

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Jonathan Wilcox


275. London, British Library, Harley 3667


(with BL, Cotton Tiberius C. i [231])

[Ker 196, Gneuss -]

HISTORY: Harley 3667 is a detached quire from a larger scientific manuscript. Evidence of script and quire signatures demonstrates that other parts of the same manuscript survive in London, BL, Cotton Tiberius C. i, Part 1 [231] (see Ker 1938: 132). The manuscript was written at Peterborough between 1122 and 1135, probably soon after 1122. This is indicated by the presentation of annals concerned with Peterborough Abbey on the Easter tables in the present manuscript (ff. 14-2v), including a reference to the fire at Peterborough in 1116. The last annal entry in the main hand records the death of Radulfus, archbishop of Canterbury, in October 1122; the next entry, recording the death of King Henry I in 1135, is in a different hand. Place and date are confirmed by a similarity of the script of the main hand with that in Oxford, Bodleian Library, Laud Ivlisc. 636 [401), the "Peterborough Chronicle," which records entries up to 1121. The handwriting and decorative pattern of Harley 3667 and Tiberius C. i, Part 1, are similar enough to the work of the first scribe of the "Peterborough Chronicle" to lead Clark (1954: 74) to suggest "that the MSS. were all produced in the same scriptorium, possibly even by the same scribe." Ker (Cat., 260) considers Harley 3667 a Peterborough production of"no doubt .•. C. 1120." In its original form of at least 21 quires, the scientific manuscript probably remained at Peterborough through the Ivliddle Ages, if it can be identified with item A. ii in a late-14c Peterborough book-list (ed. James 1926: 34), i.e., a manuscript of scientific material beginning with Bede "De Compoto et de naturis rerum." After that manuscript was broken up, this handsome single quire found its way into the Harley collection, receiving two pressmarks on f. [iv] recto. Acquired by the British Museum in 1753 on the deatl1 of Robert Harley's son.

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