Durham Cathedral Library, A. IV. 36 Symeon of Durham, "Libellus de exordio;' etc.

Main Article Content

David Rollason


119a. Durham Cathedral Library, A. IV. 36

Symeon of Durham, "Libellus de exordio;' etc.

[Ker-, Gneuss-]

HISTORY: A copy of Symeon of Durham's "Libellus de exordio istius hoc est Dunelmensis ecclesie;' formerly known as the Historia Dunelmensis eccclesie. The work is an account of the foundation of the church of Lindisfarne, the removal of that church to Chester-le-Street in the late 9c, its final relocation at Durham in 995, and the history of the church of Durham down to the death of Bishop William of St Calais in 1096. The work is now definitely attributed to Symeon of Durham and was written after 1104 and probably by 1107 or 1109, certainly by 1115. The text in this manuscript (Rollason's text "D'' ) is a careless copy of that in Durham, University Library, Cosin VII. 6 [124], corrected by a contemporary hand in brown pencil. Its script and decoration resemble those of other Durham books, suggesting that it was produced at Durham. That it was also kept there in the Middle Ages is shown by: an erased Durham ex libris (beginning of 15c, legible under ultra-violet light) at the top off. 1 and the letter 'M' corresponding to an entry in the 1395 catalogue of books in the Durham claustral library (B[otfield] 1838: 56); the first words off. 2r which correspond more or less to the same entry (the words cited in the catalogue are 'perlatum est' rather than 'prolatum est' but this is obviously a slip); and the fact that in the later Middle Ages the book received annotations by identifiable Durham monks. The manuscript was in 1568 given to Matthew Parker by Robert Horne (note on f. 12lv/8-ll), who had been a dean of Durham (1551/3-1559/61). There are chapter marks, etc. in red crayon similar to that found in many of Parker's manuscripts. It was transcribed about Parker's time as CCCC 100(1) (Doyle 1998: 158). It was possibly at York later on, where it is assigned in Bernard's Catalogi Manuscriptorum Angliae (1697), II, pt. 1,4, and was seen there by Thomas Rud. It was removed from York somehow and later belonged to the Dutch collector Henrik van Wijn (18c/19c), inscriptionf . iv recto (bottom) and flyleaf notes by him (ii verso), and was bought at Leiden and brought back to England, probably in the 1830s. It was subsequently acquired for Sir Thomas Phillipps's Library as MS 9374, and was purchased for the Durham Cathedral Library in 1950 (cf. Davies 1951, Doyle 1998: 160). Because of its acquisition history, it was not known to Dobbie or mentioned in Ker, Catalogue, and hence omitted by Robinson and Stanley 1991.


Article Details

Manuscript Descriptions