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Colloquia and Seminars

Durham Colloquium, December 2001




layout text 4.30-5.00 layout text Dr Werner Vogler (Stiftsarchiv St Gallen) layout text
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layout text 'Carolingian libri vitae of Rhaetia and Alemannia: Pfäfers, Reichenau, St Gallen. Contents, function, meaning, perspectives of further research' layout text
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layout text 5.00-5.30 layout text Professor Simon Keynes (University of Cambridge) layout text
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layout text Liber Vitae of New Minster and other comparanda layout text
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layout text 5.30-6.15 layout text discussion layout text
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layout text 9.00-9.30 layout text Dr Colin Tite (London) layout text
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layout text The Liber Vitae and Sir Robert Cotton layout text
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layout text 9.30-10.00 layout text Mr Michael Gullick (Red Gull Press) layout text
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layout text 'The Make-Up of the Liber Vitae' layout text
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layout text 10.00-10.45 layout text Discussion layout text
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layout text 10.45-11.15 layout text Coffee layout text
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layout text 11.15-11.45 layout text Mr Alan Piper (University of Durham) layout text
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layout text Later medieval monastic entries layout text
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layout text 11.45-12.15 layout text Mrs Lynda Rollason (University of Durham) layout text
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layout text Later medieval lay entries layout text
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layout text 12.15-1.00 layout text Discussion layout text
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layout text 2.30-3.00 layout text Dr Jan Gerchow (Ruhrlandmuseum Essen): layout text
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layout text The origins of the Liber Vitae layout text
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layout text 3.00-3.30 layout text Dr Elizabeth Briggs (West Yorkshire Archive Service): layout text
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layout text Names in the original compilation (down to the mid-ninth century) layout text
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layout text 3.30-4.00 layout text Professor David Rollason (University of Durham) layout text
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layout text The Liber Vitae in the Twelfth Century layout text
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layout text 4.30-5.00 layout text Mr John S. Moore (University of Bristol) layout text
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layout text Anglo-Norman families recorded in the Durham 'Liber Vitae' layout text
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layout text 5.00-5.30 layout text Professor Geoffrey Barrow (Edinburgh) layout text
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layout text Some Scots in the Liber Vitae layout text
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layout text 5.30-6.30 layout text Discussion layout text
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layout text 9.00-9.30 layout text Prof. em. Dr Dr h. c. Arnold Angenendt (Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität, Münster) layout text
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layout text 'Beneficium societatis: Schenkung und Einschiebung in den Liber Vitae' layout text
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layout text 9.30-10.00 layout text Dr Katherine Keats-Rohan (Unit for Prosopraphical Research, University of Oxford) layout text
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layout text Cartulary, Obituary and Martyrology of the Mont St Michel layout text
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layout text 10.00-10.30 layout text Prof. PhDr. Ivan Hlavácek (Institute of Historical Auxiliary Sciences and Archivistics, Karlsuniversität, Prague) layout text
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layout text The Codex Gigas and its necrology layout text
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layout text 11.45-12.15 layout text Dr Janet Burton (University of Wales, Lampeter) layout text
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layout text Monastic commemoration and memorialisation in a Yorkshire context layout text
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layout text 12.15-12.45 layout text Dr R. N. Swanson (University of Birmingham) layout text
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layout text 'Books of Brotherhood: Registering Fraternity and Confraternity in Late Medieval England' layout text
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layout text 12.45-1.30 layout text Discussion layout text
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layout text 2.30-4.30 layout text PLENARY SESSION layout text
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layout text Taking forward the Durham Liber Vitae project layout text
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British Library Seminar, December 2002

Present: Elizabeth Briggs, Michelle Brown, David Ganz, Jan Gerchow, Michael Gullick, Alan Piper, David Rollason, Colin Tite

Session 1: Codicology

Michael Gullick introduced his current research as follows:

Part I (Gospel excerpts).

The original core of the book (Part II) had four primary sewing stations (i.e holes in the gutters) with pronounced thread stains, and these stations are different from those used by Cotton in rebinding the book. There are in addition other sewing stations in Parts III-IV. Since the sewing stations in Part I are the same as the original sewing stations in Part II, it is tentatively proposed that Part I was made (in the late 12th century) to be joined to Part II and to reuse the original sewing stations of the latter. This would not be unusual if there had been a complete rebinding, and would have been only practical as the parchment is so thick. Alternatively, Part I could just have been hitched on to the existing binding of Part II.

Either way, this could have been done during a period of apparent intense interest in the book in the late 12th century. Towards the end of the Middle Ages, it was more normal to make new sets of sewing stations.

Michael raised the possibility that the hand of Part I was that of a letter of Bernard of Clairvaux in DCL B.IV.24, bottom fol. 96r. [On comparison of a xerox, the meeting dismissed this possibility but noted the need to compare the hand of Part I with Durham hands at the forthcoming seminar in Durham.]

Part II: the original core:

It is impossible to believe that a manuscript so finely produced was not made in regular quires. Michael's reconstruction involves:

Quires I-V: regular quires of six with leaves now missing. Note that fol. 37 (on which the monks' list begins) may be the beginning of quire V. Quire VI is a very large quire (of twelve), which is still tentative - it seems strange as the parchment is so thick.

The blank leaves then make sense in relation to the lists. There is one blank leaf after the kings' list; the putative bishops' list was followed by a blank etc. It begins to make sense as a sort of rhythm.

New lists start on fols. 18v and 19v, i.e. the short ones at the front.


How many bishops names would there have been? Which sees would have been included? There are four possible folios for bishops.

Jan: It is quite normal for bishops to come before kings in continental libri vitae.

Fol. 24 is short at the fore-edge and is hooked round quire II, but should have been hooked round quire III. Quire IV still stands as it was and is the key unit.

Fol. 25 is not an insertion because of the nature of the parchment. Nobody has ever been able to sort out hair and flesh. Michael has not himself tried to do this, but will do so in the light of his proposed reconstruction.

Fol. 47 is definitely the same parchment and pricked and ruled as Part II, and may be one of the leaves removed from Part II. It was kept because it had the OE manumission on it.

The leaves that are missing are presumably missing because they were blank. But Cotton did not generally cut leaves out. Michael and Lynda Rollason think there was a revival in interest in the book at the end of the Middle Ages. There is some evidence of another late sewing, presumably done at Durham not much before 1500, in Part IV, and it may have been then that the blank leaves were removed. These late sewing stations are not visible in the earlier sections.

Michelle: it may be possible to explore this during the digitisation process.

Fol. 47: Julian Brown thought the first lines of the manumission were written by one of the scribes of the Durham Ritual (early s.11).

Fols. 35 and 36 mark a change from 2nd to 3rd hand, so fols. 34 and 36 could be conjoint, and there could be a leaf missing between fols. 35 and 36. Fols. 33-7 are the big problem area.

Were there normally singletons in medieval manuscripts? Yes, in heavily illuminated books like the Book of Kells, but there seems no reason for it in the Liber Vitae. David Ganz: maybe singletons were created when a half bifolium which had been made a mess of was discarded.

Michelle: Silver leaf is a difficult technique and is very prone to misbehaviour. Questions to pose: how thorough was the planning of the book and what scope was there for expansion? What was the liturgical context? Could it have been the removal to Norham?

Elizabeth: the compiler of the original core was obviously copying from something, because on one occasion one block was copied twice by accident.

Alan: Four blank leaves after fol. 17 seems implausible, so in this case there must have been something on these leaves and they constitute an early loss. We could assume 3.5 pages of bishops, say 360 bishops. There could have been several lists of bishops (bishops of the grade of anchorites, bishops of ... etc.).

Michael observes the existence of holes with rust round them on fol. 71. They appear on fols. 69,l 68, 76, 75, 71, 67 diminishing in size right-left of this list. On this basis, Michael reconstructs the quire as shown, on the basis that a bifolium was refolded. From the content point of view, Lynda believes this makes perfect sense as a group of material which would have belonged together. SO: Michael is now presuming that this was a quire and was at the back of a binding. It seems likely that everything was bound together at this time and there were not separate leaves.

Fols. 66 and 70 are definitely a bifolium, as are 58 and 61 and 59 and 60.

Fol. 63v has the inscription which Lynda deciphered with Paul Harvey's help under UV. This is the inscription was recopied by a Cotton scribe. It is more likely to have been at the front than in the middle.

The second half of the 12th century work always goes in long lines as opposed to columns. A great deal of this 12th-century work looks suspiciously like the work of one scribe and might be identifiable in B.IV.24 (look at fol. 64r). The us abbreviation is especially distinctive. He may be scribe Hugh form 2 in B.IV.24 (e.g. wrote convention on fol. 63r). Latest convention he seems to write is with Gerard, prior of Durham (1175).

Michelle: the hand looks more like 1189 than 1175.

Michael: fol. 73 and onwards are leaves with only material of c.1300 and later (Lynda).

Fol. 63 has names on the recto. Alan: should it be at the back as a kind of colophon? Michael: perfectly possible, except that it does not have rust marks. But, if the rust marks are from the late medieval binding, it could have been at the back of the book in the 12th century. Lynda affirms that the inscription on fol. 63 is 15th-century.

Michael: Addition of gospel extracts in the early 12th century; then some addition or reworking in the 3rd quarter of the 12th century. Then a tidying up at Durham in the late middle ages (Lynda confirms consistency of this with names in the Liber Vitae).

Michelle: the disordering is likely to have been pre-Cotton. Maybe it was in the late middle ages that the blank leaves were cut out and there was some reordering and rebinding of the book.

Colin: Fols. 49-50, 68-9, 63-4 and 75-6 were glued together.

Michael: the current hypothesis is that this was done in the c.1500 work. This belongs to the pre-Dissolution Durham binding.

Michelle: why does it need to have been pre-Dissolution - the rust could have developed quite quickly. Alan: monks' names ceased to be put into the book at least a decade, possibly two decades, before the Dissolution. They may have left slips with names inside the book. The rust surely developed after the Dissolution when the book was no longer on the High Altar.

Michael: Lynda's work shows that the matter does fall chronologically. Was this all part of the late medieval tidying up and re-ordering. What had rust marks on was moved from the end. Maybe the latest leaves were loose. Definitely, the older part was joined with some of the earlier.

Alan: Lynda wants us to see the resurrection of the book in the late 14th century, when the Neville Screen was put up etc.

Michelle: is it possible that the book originally contained more ancillary texts, as is demonstrable with the Lindisfarne Gospels. I have argued elsewhere the case for the Gospels being the Liber Magni Altaris. As we have them, the Gospels have been tidied up to make a unitary text.

Jan: cannot recall an example of this in continental libri vitae, although it has been raised as a possibility.

Michael: from talking to Lynda, I am now coming to assume that, apart from the bishops' list, the book is still complete.

Alan: a leaf must have gone between fols. 15 and 16 by the early 12th century.

Michael: the foliation in the top right-hand corner was by James. The Cotton foliation was done by Wanley. The Arabic numbers on the first folios of quires are always struck through, providing evidence that the numbers antedate the quires. The numbers may go back to the pre-Cotton 16th-century rebinding.

Colin: [later comment] 'This may well be right but I really need to look again at that numbering. It was certainly in place by the time James Ware used the ms (probably some time in the second quarter of the seventeenth century.'

Alan: fols. 15v-16r: the 12th-century sections run across, with a cross-reference to the father of Henricus comes.

Why was the bishop list taken out? Elizabeth: because it had Aidan or Cuthbert in it?

David R: where does Michael think the binding was? Michael: in the c.1500 Durham binding, fol. 67 was the end of the book. What was the date of the binding which created the rust-holes? Michael: c. 1500. Chronological order is then lost.

Michael: Lynda says that the material on the rust-hole folios are a group. Maybe Cotton re-arranged the book to get it into chronological order.

Colin: The Arabic numerals can only have been inserted after the glued pages were separated, probably before Cotton's time. Then Wanley was given the job of foliating the book, with a numeral every ten pages. The Wanley order is accurate until you get to the adhered pages, and the only way he can have done the calculation is if the pages were stuck together again. Hence his final total on fol. 83v.

Alan: were they glued together only once after the Cotton binding? Are the 'a's and 'b's instructions to someone to paste leaves together? Colin: the page numbers would not be consecutive had this been the case. Michael: the foliation is pre-Cottonian, so Alan may be right about instructions to the binder but it is all pre-Cottonian.

The foliation of every tenth leaf is the calculation of 77 leaves struck through on fol. 83v, and was done by Wanley in 1703. Wanley's calculation of 75 leaves is an annotation to the catalogue.

Summary: the relict pagination was done; then the leaves were pasted together; separated before Cotton (Colin thinks), and then Cotton pasted them together again (because of the Wanley numbering). They were separated possibly because they were the central bifolia of quires, and fol. 63v would not have been available to be copied in the Cotton front leaf.

Colin [later comment]: 'I still think the 'a's and 'b's were added when the leaves were separated and are not instructions to the binder to glue those leaves together. I am also not completely happy about the conclusion we were reaching on Wanley's numbering. I shall send you a copy of my letter.'

Michael: Colin's comments show that the later foliations are all much later and have no significance for the reshuffling of the manuscript. Colin: the numbers at the bottom of the page cannot be earlier than the 16th century.

Colin adds [later comment]: I can't quite remember which of the foliations Michael was referring to but those at the centre foot of the page do show some shuffling - the number '10' appears on fol. 56, '9' on fol. 57 and '11' on fol. 58.


Michael: Part III (the 12th-century additions are on 'thin insular parchment'. Is this an attempt to match the parchment to the original core, because you don't normally find that sort of parchment in early 12th-century Durham books. Dark colour, very even texture both sides.

Elizabeth: Fol. 55 has original prickings but the ruling does not correspond - it is in plummet; and this seems to be the case for this whole part.

Michelle: This could have been a batch of vellum which was older, perhaps even taken from an earlier book.

Alan: Maybe the 'thin insular parchment' marked a re-launch of the book after 995.

Fol. 52v: looks like a palimpsest and needs checking out with UV etc.

Fol. 51r-v: candidate for UV (+ a very early repair)

Fol. 49 has been pasted to something else, if indeed it has been pasted.

Michelle: we need to check this.


The rust holes are an odd shape, but this is not inconsistent with the use of crude nails in later medieval bindings.


It is extraordinary that the extract ends at exactly the end of the leaf. Was there another leaf on which the gospel passage continued?

David [later comment]: 'Would it be helpful if I tried to identify whether the Gospel extracts are lections, and if so what their liturgical function may be? With Ursula Lenker's monograph on A-S Gospel lections that should be fairly straightforward, and might make it possible to be more specific about how the book was used. (I haven't checked that Jan doesn't treat this in his book).'


Alan: has 'hopping' ampersands. Alan and Michael: 1150s is most likely (common sign of abbreviation is still slightly cupped).

Alan: we could put a transcript of these discussions on the project web-site, and we could put some digital images up as well.

Michelle: as soon as the digitisation is done (as soon as possible after the end of March), the digital images would be available for the project to work on.

Session 2: Early medieval palaeography

Michael: There are two kinds of gold mordants: a sort of gum, and a mordant with a bulk filler such as chalk to produce a three-dimensional effect. What is used here seems to be gold leaf with a gum mordant. Looking at it under a magnifier, it seems to present a flat, slightly burnished surface. Michelle: It looks at first like shell (powdered) gold, but this can be checked under a low-powered microscope.

Michael: Silver leaf is much more difficult to work with because it is cannot be beaten as thin as gold, but nevertheless this looks like leaf. Scribe 3 wrote in alternate gold and ink (not silver), which may indicate that they did not have the silver, or it reflected the difficulty of using silver leaf. Perhaps it had already oxidised in the earlier work, and so was avoided.

Michelle: Lindisfarne Gospels use both leaf and chrysography (powder). Michael thinks the gold is burnished in the Liber Vitae and so cannot be chrysography. Michelle: it does look like leaf and there are places where the lettering seems to have been trimmed round with a knife. There are also places where it seems to be sticking up. We need to do microphotographs to confirm that. Chrysography is rare in Britain, unknown in Ireland. It is used presumably by Wilfrid in the gospels given to Ripon, and it is also found in the highest status contexts in the Lindisfarne Gospels. Gold leaf is found in the Amiatinus.

Silver leaf is found in:

Vespasian Psalter (720s/730s) Royal Bible (820s/840s) Codex Aureus

Alan: Maybe you burnished the writing area before applying the lettering, so there may be a chemical difference between the writing area and the margins. Michelle: we shall need to check this out in the course of digitisation.

Michelle: Oxidisation is likely to be greater for pages which have been exposed to the air (and some openings are clearly more oxidised than others). It will be necessary to check at what periods the book has been on exhibition. We need to check the content of the pages which are particularly oxidised. It is possible that some results from some earlier conservation treatment.

Michelle: Is there evidence of purple staining of the leaves, or is this the result of mould damage? We need to check that out. Some seems to relate to the frame ruling, and so might be pre-writing treatment of the leaf.

David: We shall need in the digitised edition to describe each and every one of the names in terms of the nature and use of gold or silver.

Fol. 33v: gold seems to have been laid over the silver.

Michelle: Some names show gold over silver, almost as if they have upped the status of certain names. This destroys the alternation of gold:silver. Possibly this was correction in gold ink.

Michael: It could be that gold was put down by accident, silver put over the top, and then flaked off to reveal the gold.


There is a problem as to whether hands 1 and 2 are really distinct; hand 3 certainly is.

The rubricator is assumed to be hand 1. Note that the rubrics were not ruled for.

Elizabeth: Hand 2 tends to use crossed d at the end.

Michelle: comparanda for the manuscript include:

Monkwearmouth/Jarrow (uses leaf) the Flixborough inscriptions (dating very uncertain) Bodley 819 Barberini Gospels (late 8th century; mileage of making some comparanda with some of the hands) Digby 63

We need to consider the liturgical context of making such high-grade commemoration - was it connected with the move of the community from Lindisfarne to Norham?

David Ganz: How can we exclude the possibility that names were entered over a period, say from the 820s to the 840s?

Elizabeth: Fols. 36 and 45 have hand 3. The hand seems to change on fol. 44. It is quite difficult to distinguish because hand 3 was consciously imitating.

David Ganz: Perfectly happy about hand 3 but uncertain about hands 1 and 2.

Elizabeth: Fol. 15r col. c: There does seem to be a difference here between names in this column and the following. Hand 2 adds to nearly all of the lists (e.g. the last three names of the anchorites). There does seem to be some change in abbreviations between the hands for presbyter.

Michael: It may be that analysis of the mordant will help to distinguish hands.

Michelle: We may be being distracted by the bleed and other features. It nevertheless does look like a different hand, but the two scribes seem to be working together.

Elizabeth: The third hand is not always on separate leaves. On fol. 35r, col. c, it looks as if hands 1 and 2 interleave with each other. Hand 2 does about four names (nos. 5, 6, 7, 8, of the silver names in the middle of names written by hand 2). The gold names we really cannot see and will need to be looked at in the digitisation process.

Alan: The last name on fol. 35, col. c looks very different (crossing of 'd' is significantly higher) from names in the middle of col. b.

Elizabeth: Hand 2 does seem to use crossed d at the end of a name, whereas hand 1 uses th.

David Ganz: How late could the script have been written?

Michelle: It must be pre-Athelstan. The script generally accords with Northumbria after the late 8th century.

Elizabeth: The last dateable names are around 839/844, assuming the entries are posthumous.

Michael: There is nothing idiosyncratic about this.

David Ganz: Hand 3 is not evolving in any direction.

Michelle: Spelling of names is adhering to Northumbrian orthography.

David Rollason: The philological aspect of the names will require close attention.

David Ganz: There must have been a pre-existing list of names which was then copied in mordant.

Michael: The change from hand 2 to hand 3 suggests that there was an interval, during which there was no ad hoc addition of names. We should obviously look at this very closely (Elizabeth confirms that there are no precise dating elements in the names at the points of change-over.)

Michelle: The hands do not need to be very far apart. The scribes could have been coxing and boxing.

Michael: It becomes very important to know how many scribes there were. If you have two, you really have got a scriptorium, whereas a single scribe could have been brought from anywhere.

Michelle: We could use videospectral analysis of the ink might be able to show a variation in ink between the different hands, and we could also analyse sweepings from the gutters to analyse any of the gold and silver which has become detached. We should be able to decide whether the gold was put on top of the silver etc.


Michelle: There might be some mileage in studying the capital letters, especially those on fols. 26r and 27r. How many scribes were there in the scriptorium which produced this manuscript?

By comparison with southern manuscripts, this should be dated early 10th century (Michelle), but David Ganz opines that Carolingian models would in fact have been available in the 820s - foliar ornament, etc.

Michelle: These initials look Mediterranean, the same sorts of thing which are influencing the Carolingian manuscripts. There are no close analogies for these initials in English manuscripts.

Red outlining is a very interesting feature and is found in Royal II.A.20 (Mercian prayerbook, first quarter 9th century). Its purpose is to mask any raggedness around the leaf.

There are some metalwork comparanda from the time of Æthelwulf.


Michelle: These are in vermilion (like Southumbrian books) in half-uncial without a 'sniff' of uncial, which you would expect even in late 8th-century Monkwearmouth/Jarrow books.

Fols. 49v-50r: Viewing in a mirror shows a 'Robertus' on fol. 49v which is not on fol. 50r. So the lower part of the offset is not an offset of the lower part of fol. 50r. The upper offset (from 'Walterus de Gosewich') is a later offset, when the leaves were indeed together and not pasted together. So this is evidence for another lost leaf, there being no leaf with a similar skim on.

Fol. 25r: This is the same parchment as the rest of Part II, and has the original pricking and ruling (another line has been added to accommodate the Worcester monks).


Acanthoid decoration is characteristic of Carolingian influence (cf. Moutier-Grandval Bible), and related to what is on the front of the Stonyhurst Gospel.

Royal A.II.20 (Royal Prayerbook)

Red containing initials Silver (on first leaf - Gospel extracts) as well as gold (powder rather than leaf in both cases) use of half-uncial

Additional 40618 (Athelstan Pocket Gospel-Book)

750s, jazzed up for Athelstan Trilobate acanthoid decoration red outline to initials This has MS parallels from beginning 10th century and metalwork parallels from Æthelwulf (parallels are Southumbrian).

Royal I.E.6 (Royal Bible)

Capital letters with red surrounds (cloisons) metalwork looks like powder foliar work dated 830s/840s)

Alan: Fol. 62v can be dated from the top line (Henry, son of Hugh of le Puiset) probably in 1190s (not much liked by the monks until the 1190s after his father's death. Second line has John Cumin, archbishop of Dublin.

Fol. 62r: manner of doing 'de' (Simon de Veel) is probably 1180s. Also William of Salisbury and Countess Gundreda. Then a change of pen.


Fol. 45r: A number of names with tironian 's' not crossed, indicating a late 12th-century rather than a 13th-century date.

Fols. 46r and 47r re early 12th century.

Fol. 49r could be late 12th-century rather than later. This has William, archdeacon of Norwich, and the Constable of Richmond.

Fol. 50v: document purporting to be from time of William of St Calais, and a document relating to Tynemouth are written by Reginald of Durham

Fol. 66r may also be the scribe of 63r and part of 64v.

Fol. 67r looks later.

Fol. 70r looks pre-1200.

Fol. 70v: the beginning could be 12th century, so could fol. 71r.

Alan: How would you expect the names on fol. 49r to be numbered? Even with a computerised overlay, there has to some sort of a system to how numbers are assigned to names on pages.

Michelle: You should only have column a even when there is only one column on a page. You could then divide a single-column page into halves (a1, a2, a3 etc.).

Jan:You could number through the original lay-out and then number the additions distinguished in some way.

Alan: Fol. 49r has Jurdan de Hamilton with archid in a different hand. Is this a genuine gloss on Jurdan de Hamilton.

David R.: The edition should avoid making firm statements either way, without requiring us to enshrining conclusions. In the case of 'Walterus episcopus', the two words should go in different fields and there should then be different ways of expressing degrees of certainty.

Michael: The programme should enable you to go to a particular grid-reference on the facsimile.

Jan: Another method is to number per page, and to give a number which indicates the scribal groupings (i.e. number separately groups which have been entered by the same scribe). It would be wise to consult with Dieter Geuenich who has been responsible for editing the continental libri vitae.

David R.: We must be careful that in the final edition we do not link together hands irrevocably, so that they cannot be prised apart if we change our minds. If we publish in a web-form, we can continue to work on it.

Michael: Fol. 49r: there is an erasure. A consistent campaign should indicate what has been written over erasure.

Michelle: Would prefer to identify problem pages and have them photographed under a series of lights. This would be a follow-on process from the digitisation process. We need to think about what the more forensic processes would cost, and there would have to be additional funding.


Highlighting indicates decisions and suggestions required before digitisation of the manuscript begins, hopefully in May/June. As regards the pages for which we would like UV photographs, Elizabeth has suggested the following as a preliminary list:

fol. 15v - Tostig erasure fol. 17r - Beonnu near the bottom of the third column is a silver name apparently written over an erased name in gold fol. 23v, 32v, 34v - badly worn names in gold fol. 47v - first line of OE manumission erased

We need other suggestions - also for pages that might benefit from other forms of investigation.

Durham Early Mediaeval Seminar, March 2003




  1. Dieter Geuenich
  2. Rosamond McKitterick
  3. David Rollason
  4. Lynda Rollason
  5. Alan Piper
  6. Margaret Harvey
  7. David Ganz
  8. Alex Burgart
  9. Elizabeth Briggs
  10. Jo Story
  11. Simon Keynes
  12. Francesca Tinti
  13. David Pelteret
  14. Jan Gerchow
  15. David Dumville
  16. John Insley
  17. Harold Short


The state of the project:

David Rollason reported that following success in the AHRB Resource Enhancement funding scheme, the major project to produce a computer edition with linked materials and texts would begin in earnest on 1 May 2003.

  1. Researcher 1 would be appointed for three years to be based at King's College London and the selecting committee would be held on 2 April. (In the event, Dr Andrew Wareham was appointed.)
  2. The British Library were about to commence digitising MS Cotton Domitian VII to the highest possible standards, and had promised that the images would be available in time for the July seminar.
  3. The papers of the 2001 Colloquium were in an advanced state of editing. A contract had been agreed with Messrs Boydell and Brewer with a final deadline for submission of copy as 1 August 2003.
Report on the Palaeography and Codicology Seminar (December 2002)

Alan Piper made an oral report on the salient points arising from the seminar, of which the present group had received David Rollason's report. Discussion focused on:

THE GOSPEL TEXTS (opening leaves)

  1. These have now been shown by Michael Gullick to be an original part of the book as it was reconstituted in the twelfth century.
  2. It was further noted that such texts also formed an original part of the Liber Vitae of Newminster. Gospel texts and prayers are part of the Liber Vitae of Remiremont, and similar components are found in the Libri Vitae of Pfäffers and Brescia. Essen has a Liber Vitae inscribed in a missal.
  3. The selection of the texts excited some discussion. Did they in fact represent the passion narrative? Was it possible to find liturgical books from Durham with these particular texts set to music? Alan Piper noted that some Durham manuscripts do contain material from Lanfranc inserted in liturgical books.
  4. David Ganz undertook to pursue the question in the work of Ursula Lenker, Die westsächsische Evangelienversion und die Perikopenordnungen im angelsächsischen England (1997). Simon Keynes reported that Dr Lenker was soon to edit a new Anglo-Saxon manuscript discovered in the Somerset Record Office, which contained Latin and Old English lections.


  1. Alan Piper explained that Michael Gullick's reconstruction of the original collation was based on the assumption that such a de luxe manuscript must have been made in regular quires. There was some concern about this assumption. Did it really follow that regular quires would have been the norm? Alan Piper explained that Michael Gullick had identified certain surviving regular quires which he took to be archetypical.
  2. There was discussion about the unusual character of the manuscript. It was noted that three-column books are very rare, and that continental Libri Vitae are generally not so expensively made.


Alan Piper explained Michael Gullick's findings as reported at the December seminar, noting in particular the discovery that the same hand was responsible for starting off several of the twelfth-century leaves, and the discovery of rust holes making it possible to reconstruct the original order of leaves. Discussion focused on:

  1. Did the entries by different hands represent different families? This was clearly a matter which would need pursuing.
  2. It should be possible with the digital edition to restore the pages as they had been at different stages of writing and edition. Using paper and tipex, this had been a normal technique of continental research.
  3. John Insley drew particular attention to the list of Scandinavian names on fol. 55v, including Eric, king of Denmark (1093-1154). Did the word vel really represent an alias as had been thought, or was its meaning 'and' (i.e. there were really two people named)?
  4. David Pelteret drew attention to the erased manumissions in Cambridge, Corpus Christi College, MSS 111 and 140, and suggested the importance of comparing these with the manumissions in the Liber Vitae.

Project planning and design

Harold Short set out the issues which the project would have to consider in the initial stages as follows:

The humanities computing context

conceptual map common technical methods multiple technologies integration inter-operation modes of delivery international standards

Project planning

seminars and ahrb proposal content analysis & specification technical assessment & software options delivery & user analysis technical assessment editorial development technical development pilot delivery & evaluation final delivery & evaluation

Technical issues

software selection Anastasia & its projects Digital Shikshapatri & Oxford Arch Digital Other relevant projects specialised image processing image delivery & linkage XML mark-up : the TEI and Master metadata descriptive content technical character representation : unicode presentation interface design representation of uncertainty access: browse / search / manipulation technical tools or scripts : open standards / open systems generation of web/CD materials internal hyperlinks external hyperlinks publications strategy : on-line / CD-ROM / print preservation & re-use AHDS Digital Preservation Coalition FEDORA

The following specific points were raised:

  1. With particular reference to software selection, Harold Short noted the potential of Peter Robinson's Anastasia software, although clearly there were other possibilities.
  2. Harold Short noted the availability of specialist image-processing software. Selection of this should be part of the design and implementation process, as also should be consideration of what tools users would require.
  3. He emphasised the importance of metadata, especially if it was desirable for the commentary on the book to be searchable in a structured way.
  4. The representation of uncertainty was clearly a priority as a design issue.
  5. Attention would have to be paid to the use of Unicode to represent characters. Important too would be linkages with other projects, especially the Prosopography of Anglo-Saxon England. It was notable that this project had a direct link into the Fitzwilliam Museum's digital coin archive, and such a link might be desirable between the Prosopography and the Liber Vitae project.
  6. FEDORA (funded by the Andrew Mellon Foundation) was a digital object repository, particularly concerned with managing hierachies of smaller and larger objects, the former often constituting components of the latter.
  7. It was noted that Don Scragg and Alex Rumble (University of Manchester) were currently involved in a project focused on eleventh-century palaeography, and there might be useful synergy with the Liber Vitae project. Simon Keynes undertook to represent the Liber Vitae project at the next meeting of this project.
  8. Jan Gerchow drew attention to the situation where it was necessary to see particular hands as delineating groups on a particular page. Harold Short noted that there could be mark-up indexes for each page.


A. Continental Libri Vitae

Dieter Geuenich presented the 'classic' continental libri vitae with the aid of a paper (attached), and also a series of facsimiles. Discussion and attention was directed to:

  1. The Liber Vitae of Corvey which is of particular interest because it represents a book following the early medieval lay-out but actually made in the twelfth century.
  2. The fact that in continental books no distinction is made between the various ranks of abbot (as in the Durham Liber Vitae) expect at the level of from which communities the abbots came.
  3. The 'priestification' of the monastic personnel in the late eighth and early ninth centuries as reflected in these books. Dieter Geuenich noted that a couple of entries in the Liber Vitae of St Gall give titles, and Simon Keynes indicated that grades are given in the Liber Vitae of Newminster.
  4. Rosamond McKitterick raised the possibility that libri vitae reflected particular liturgical activity or particular events, such as the Synod of Attigny in 762. She noted in particular that Virgil of Salzburg, who twenty years later started the Liber Vitae of Salzburg, was present at the Synod of Dingolfing in 770.
  5. Do diptychs actually exist? No, but we do have the ivory covers from them.
B. Principles of editing

Dieter Geuenich presented a paper (attached) on the principles of editing libri vitae for the Monumenta Germaniae Historica, although he noted that these had changed a little between the editions of Remiremont and Brescia.

Discussion focused especially on:

  1. Standardisation on West Germanic forms, and the need for a lemmatised index. It was noted that Dieter Geuenich had already prepared such an index for the Durham Liber Vitae which was published in Jan Gerchow's edition. It was noted that different problems were presented by the later medieval names.
  2. Should there be an indexing for groups as well as individual entries? Harold Short indicated that this should present no difficulty to the software.
  3. A grid system of referencing based on coordinates might be made to work.
C. The Liber Vitae of Salzburg

Rosamond McKitterick gave a summary of her research on this Liber Vitae, which focused on three questions:

What were the cultural assumptions and affiliations underlying the Liber Vitae ? Does its composition throw any light on political tensions, especially those between Arne and Virgil of Salzburg? (She emphasised the evidence the book contains for the pro-Carolingian policies of these two churchmen.) What does it show about collective memory?

Discussion focused on the following points:

  1. The practice of reading out the names of the living before the canon of the mass. Rosamond McKitterick drew attention to the illumination in the Utrecht Psalter of an angel erasing names from the Book of Life.
  2. The size of books. The Liber Vitae of Salzburg is not so large that it could not have been held during the mass. A manuscript from Werden is slim precisely because it was intended to fit inside an original diptych cover.
  3. Jan Gerchow noted that the Liber Vitae of Salzburg is the closest comparandum to the Durham book, because it has a series of ordines which are hierarchical in character. Do the ordines in the Durham book only represent the monastery from which the book came? Salzburg does not have long lists.
D. The Liber Vitae of Newminster

Simon Keynes noted that, although produced in 1031, this book is rather like the Liber Vitae of Salzburg. It was in continuous use throughout the middle ages until 1539, for entering names of members and friends of the community, and also for entering texts.

Why were libri vitae only used in churches which had had them before the Conquest?

Discussion centred on:

  1. The fact that there appear to be no libri vitae from West Francia. This has usually been explained in terms of the fact that such books arose in the context of the English mission.
  2. Were there originally more libri vitae which have not survived, because they were on loose sheets and/or because they were destroyed as useless at the Dissolution?
  3. Bearing in mind the altar slab from Reichenau with names scratched on it, might there have been more such monuments? May the lead plaque from Flixborough (Lincs.) with names scratched on it be precisely this?
  4. If it is true that the Durham Liber Vitae's contents transcend one community, should it be seen as a generic list of names for all Northumbria, resembling in form the genealogies in Cotton Vespasian B.VI?
  5. Should comparison be made with the Chronicle of Ireland, begun in the second half of the eighth century, maintained until at least the 910s, and kept up to date by drawing material from a number of different counties?
  6. Comparisons should be made between the language of the Durham Liber Vitae and that of other Northumbrian texts, such as the Lindisfarne and Rushworth glosses and Caedmon's hymn.
  7. Who were the clerics listed in the Durham Liber Vitae? Were they the cathedral clergy of York? It was noted that the distinction between clerics and monks was first found in Carolingian sources connected with Chrodegang, in 786. .It was further noted that Alcuin repeatedly discussed the distinction between clerics and monks.
  8. It was emphasised that Nigel Ramsay's project to catalogue all monastic archives in England might be of relevance. David Rollason undertook to contact him.


A. Prosopography of Anglo-Saxon England project (

Francesca Tinti explained the progress made by PASE in developing a prosopography of Anglo-Saxon names from the period 597-1042 and demonstrated the PASE databases in their current form. These involve data-entry databases each relating to an individual source, and these are then amalgamated into a master database. Francesca indicated that PASE had already dealt with a range of sources relevant to the Liber Vitae project, namely Bede's Historia Ecclesiastica, the vitae Cuthberti, Historia Abbatum, De Abbatibus, Vita Wilfridi, letters of Boniface, and Anglo-Saxon charters.

Francesca then illustrated some of the issues at stake in PASE's work as it relates to the Liber Vitae by reference to a letter of Boniface (TANGL Michael, ed., Die Briefe des heiligen Bonifatius und Lullus (Epistolae Selectae in usum scholarum ex Monumentis Germaniae Historicis separatim editae 1; Berlin: Weidmannsche Buchhandlung, 1916), no. 55. Francesca illustrated the extent to which names in the letter could be parallelled (and possibly identified with) names in the Liber Vitae or in other sources (see appendix).

Discussion focused on, first, the question of context (what was the significance of the groupings in which names occur in the Liber Vitae and was it reflected in the other sources?); and, secondly, the philological aspect of the names. John Insley cast doubt on the identification of 'Coengils' with 'cynegils', and questioned the form of 'Ingeld' and its cognates. He also noted the desirability of some comment on the palaeography of name entries, but David Pelteret explained that PASE was working exclusively from printed sources.

David Pelteret then presented a paper on 'Patterns, Pronunciations and Picts' (see appendix).

There was some discussion of philological issues, with John Insley in particular explaining that Ædil- forms probably go back to an original Œdil- and should be kept apart.

B. Identifying names and groupings:

Jan Gerchow reported on the former University of Freiburg research group's Nameneintragsbuch for continental libri vitae dated before 1000. The Durham Liber Vitae had not been included because, as a near-unitary lay-out of names by only a couple of scribes, it did not fit with the Freiburg methodology which focused on groups of names entered by the same scribe.

Jan Gerchow went on to urge the project not to neglect the crucial dimension of groups within the Liber Vitae, even though in the case of Durham it was rarely if ever possible to get behind the mid-ninth-century listings to the groups lying behind them. In the case of the confraternity of 679, however, Jan had been able to propose an original group (see his paper in The Durham Liber Vitae, ed. Rollason et al.). In general, he laid emphasis on the importance of pacta, perhaps made in synodal gatherings such as that of Attigny, or that represented in TANGL, Die Briefe des heiligen Bonifatius, no. 81. In this connection, the work of Gerd Althoff, Amicitiae und pacta: Bündnis, Einung, Politik und Gebetsdenken im beginnenden 10. Jahrhundert (Hannover 1992) was of particular importance. Pacta became prominent in the late Carolingian and Ottonian period, although they originated much earlier (for example, the 'pacta verae pacis' recorded by Bede in connection with Wilfrid. Indeed the 706 agreement at the Synod of the River Nidd is the first known synodal confraternity.

Jan also laid emphasis on the exchange of lists in the context of monastic confraternity. Were such exchanges represented in the Liber Vitae in the lists of monks and clerics? Why have we no lists for nuns?

David Dumville drew attention to the Martyrology of Tallaght. Organised by day of the year, is it a calendar or a Liber Vitae?

Elizabeth Briggs then commented on issues of identification of names. She noted that her rule of thumb in her research had been to adopt a Northumbrian identification where possible and also the earliest possible identification. She emphasised, however, the need to avoid pre-existing ideas of what names should be there.

She then directed the discussion to the question of how the edition should indicate the degrees of probability in identifications, and how such degrees of probability might be marked up.

David Dumville noted that there was a fundamental distinction between the mid-ninth-century and later names, which would have to be handled differently. Alan Piper urged that three trial pages should be attempted to illustrate the different problems.

Jan Gerchow urged that philosophically we cannot in history talk about people but only about names. The material we are dealing with is essentially names, and the identifications are interpretative. Indeed, the Diabola project on Greek vases takes as its basis not the vases themselves but opinions about the vases. There must be ample room in the edition for a wide range of opinions.

Jo Story laid emphasis on the importance of the Liber Vitae as an artefact. Resolving it into individual entries must not be allowed to obscure this.

David Pelteret noted the need to provide as much contextual information as possible, especially as dynasties are not recorded as such and may only be discernible through recurrent name forms.


A. Semantic origins of names

John Insley explained some philogical terms, viz.:

phoneme = unit of sound

grapheme = written unit

He noted that vowel-length is rarely indicated, and he noted also the use of 'c' and 'ch' for back spirant.

He then surveyed previous work on the historical grammar of Northumbrian texts:

Müller: dissertation of 1901

Ström (1939): personal names in Bede's Ecclesiastical History. Anderson: language of the Leningrad Bede (probably a model study)

Arngärt, work on the names in the Calendar of St Willibrord

The emphasis must be on:

phonology morpholoy (inflection) patterns of word-formation etymology

The tasks include the composition of an etymological dictionary, which would include a comparative survey. A name like 'Torhtmund', for example, looks Northumbrian but in fact occurs in Domesday Book for Berkshire.

Philogical research had considerable potential here. In the Liber Vitae, for example, the name 'Cundi/georn' is in fact an Anglicisation of a British name, the second element of which has been wrongly interpreted as OE element georn, even though this does not really exist as an OE name. The same is true of 'Hildi/georn'.

John drew particular attention to:

  1. Simple one-element names: 'Brada', 'Leofa', 'Tuda' (he noted that these three were formally of the same category but differing semantically).
  2. Consonantal gemmination: 'Dudda', 'Offa', 'Wuffa'
  3. Suffix forms: 'Dydd/el', 'Tott/el', Tæt/ica

Other examples of importance included:

'Tuda', said by K. Jackson to be a British loan. The presence of hypochoristic and diminutive forms indicated that it was a fully integrated loan. 'Dudda', held to be a 'lal' or pet-name. 'Offa', a short form of ??? 'Boisil', a hypochoristic form of a by-name connected etymologically with Germanic 'Bosa'. 'Tidcume', the only parallel for which is the name of a Swedish rune-master of s.11.

John noted that an historical grammar would require following a pattern such as that used by Richard Hogg, A grammar of Old English.(Oxford 1992). There would need to be:

  1. separate chapters about patterns of word-formation
  2. lists of suffixes with comparative material.
  3. discussion of orthographic forms.

David Dumville spoke about the couple of hundred 'problem' names in the original core of the Liber Vitae, as follows:

Uncompounded names: which names are truly monothematic and which have in fact a second but highly unusual theme?

Which elements could be combined with which other elements and in what order? This was a corpus of 3117 names, embodying 1157 name-forms.

Translated continental Germanic names

'Karlus' given in the same form as in the Irish chronicles. 'Fronka' - not an element in OE names. 'Frithegod' - apparently a Frankish name, but in fact borne only by one other known person, and that from England. 'Theodred' - presumably a German name, but in fact almost unique in the corpus of OE names. 'Biscopus' - is the 'us' termination significant?

Insular Celtic names

The hunt for such names in this corpus was initiated by Max Foerster in 1921.

'Honoc' may be h]on/óc = OI hypochoristic

On the other hand, Bæglog or Bæglug may be just OE backlach (= ceorl).

Gaelic and Brittonic names

Finan (C 51)

Bressol (AP 45) - this is a perfectly good OI spelling

Fladgus (AP 45) - ditto

Adamnán - a name better suited to 9th-century OI orthography.

Abniar - is this OI Abnér, which would be linguistically better for s.9?

Aethan - occurs both in Welsh and Gaelic, but the spelling is easier to explain in OE. It is nearer to an s.9 date if it is OI.

The names 'Salfach' (OI Selbach known only from Dalriada), Reachchride and Ceollach bear on changes in the Irish language and the intense conservatism of Irish orthographic systems.

Pobbidi: a British name.

'Cundi/georn' (cf. Uurtgern /georn in Bede's HE). Jackson assumed that this was in fact Kentigern.

'Raegn/maeld' has been identified with OW Rhiainfellt, but in fact both elements are acceptable OE elements.

Pictish names

These must be in their original Pictish forms.

'Uoenan': the formal equivalent of Gaelic Eoganán.

Cue?ilach: possibly OI Coemdelach, of which the 'em' would be an unfamiliar sound in OE.

B. Discussion


It was agreed that it would be useful to convene a small seminar of philologists, including David Dumville and John Insley, with Paul Russell (Celtic philology, Radley College), Graham Isaac and Peter McClure (ME names - suggested by Dave Postles who does not feel able to participate).

Image enhancement

There would have to be a return to UV photography at a later stage, although there were obviously some pages which would need investigation of this sort. Particular attention was drawn to the erasures on fols. 51v, 66v, 75v (line of text on a blank page). Fol. 47r showed disturbed Anglo-Saxon text.

Elizabeth Briggs had already suggested the following pages for particular investigation:

fol. 15v - Tostig erasure fol. 17r - Beonnu near the bottom of the third column is a silver name apparently written over an erased name in gold fol. 23v, 32v, 34v - badly worn names in gold fol. 47v - first line of OE manumission erased

Natalie Ceonescu has a research fellowship at Trinity College in the area of digital enhancement and could be approached.


The importance of the project having consistent usages of terms was emphasised, although in fact there is no scholarly consistency. The MGH distinctions between Liber Vitae, memorial book, confraternity book are in fact not real but based on the tradition appellations of particular books.

Confraternity book on the continent, as in the case of Reichenau, indicates a specific exchange of lists of names between convents. In that sense, the Durham Liber Vitae is not a confraternity book although it is presumably a liber memorialis.

There are real problems with defining the nature of the Martyrology of Tallaght.

Liber Vitae: this might be defined as 'book containing the names of living and dead for commemoration in an ecclesiastical context'. Liber memorialis does not imply that the people in it are dead. Memory can take place while you are living, but in fact the English term 'commemorative books' might be preferable since 'memorial' does in English carry a connotation of 'the dead'.

Hence: 'Liber memorialis'/'Commemorative book' is a generic term embracing the Liber Vitae but also other types of book.

One of the problems is that the books are hybrid.

What is the meaning of 'confraternity'? The arrangement by which confratres are members of another community - but that is quite a limited definition. The minimum is that there is an element of reciprocal prayer.

Arnold Angendendt has written extensively on confraternities, especially in the 1981 Memoria volume, and in other articles. Robert Swanson has also been working on this.

Martyrology: some information about the persons recorded.

Obituary: can be part of a calendar.


Durham Late Mediaeval Seminar, July 2003



  1. John Moore
  2. Katharine Keats-Rohan
  3. Alan Piper
  4. Julia Barrow
  5. John Insley
  6. Margaret Harvey
  7. Ian Doyle
  8. Robert Swanson
  9. Janet Burton
  10. Lynda Rollason
  11. David Rollason
  12. Willard McCarty
  13. Andrew Wareham


A. Liber Vitae of Thorney: approaches and results, led by Andrew Wareham

Noting that Cecily Clark and Dorothy Whitelock had provided different dating schemes for the book, Andrew noted that the Liber Vitae of Thorney had been initially compiled in the period 1100-1115, although material in it referred back to the 1020s, and additions to it extended into the 1190s. An important question was therefore whether this earlier material had been adjusted to fit in with early twelfth-century interests. Working from a printed version of the names in the Liber Vitae prepared for the seminar from an M.Phil. thesis by Christine Wallis (University of Birmingham), he drew attention to what were apparently groups in the names, including one, generally thought to be the names of the household of King Cnut, which included the names of Osgod and Tovi, father or grandfather of Asgar the Staller, the antecessor of Geoffrey de Mandeville. Tovi is known to have married Osgod's daughter. They were not necessarily at the top of the early eleventh=-century aristocracy in reality, but in the list their names come after those of the earls. The question was, had they been pushed up the list by the compiler because of some early twelfth-century agenda?

Andrew expounded the views of Gerd Althoff, namely that the way names were entered into libri vitae was concerned with royal and aristocratic strategies. Applying this line of thought to the book, we could ask: Assuming the Liber Vitae as we have it is a copy of earlier lists, were groups of names or individual names being given a more prominent position as the abbey tried to 'cosy up' to regional magnates. This seemed particularly plausible in the case of Tovi, to whom prominence might have been given because he was viewed as an antecessor of Geoffrey de Mandeville, whom the abbey wished to support. The Liber Vitae points towards accommodation and cooperation.

Much depends on whether or not the list was reordered. The Mandeville family is trying to highlight the antecessorial link with Tovi, Ansgar etc. - being pushed up the list according to the interests of the Mandeville family. Maybe, Tovi and Osgot were known in the 12th century and so were pushed up the list.

The possibility had also to be recognised that names (like that of Hugh Bigod, founder of a baronial family destroyed by Edward I) were used differently in different contexts. When the entry of his name was concerned with the sort of strategies Althoff refers to, he perhaps described himself as dapifer and was seeking to impress the local nobility. When his name was listed in a family context, however, no such appellation was required.

Andrew argued that there are three entries where we are dealing with this Hugh Bigod. Two of them fit quite neatly with Althoff's argument, since we do not seem to be seeing Hugh's name with the family names as might be expected. There are about eighteen entries with just 'Hugh' and another sixteen with a designation showing the names cannot be Hugh Bigod. One has Hugo with Juliana and Celia, who might be Hugh Bigod's wife and sister.

The following issues were raised in the discussion:

Respecting the text. Are we dealing in all the instances of the occurrence of the name Hugh adduced with Hugh Bigod? There is an absolute necessity to respect the text and to be very careful about identification. If the text does not fit with the postulated identification, that identification must be rejected. The name 'Hugh' is very frequent after 1066; even if this is a dominant regional trend. There are no doubt some repetitions but there is a danger of exaggerating them. One of the cases has the intriguing reference to Hugh, 'the steward of the lady', which fits in with idea that the wife named is not Hugh Bigod's wife. Could this be a third wife or is the Hugh in question a quite different person?

Did remembering the identity of the names' bearers matter? The essence of the Althoff view is that repetitions are to be expected, because they form part of a social and political agenda. This is making a presumption about the document's function, and moreover assigning to it a secular function, related to councils and diets. Cf. Gerchow's paper on the 679 Battle of the Trent pacta in the forthcoming volume.

The reordering proposed by Althoff is only valid if people actually knew who the people who bore the names listed were, and this may not in fact have mattered. The names were written down for God. By the time names are copied out again have they ceased to have any recognisable significance? In the obit-lists of Canterbury, names get dropped so that the list condenses and groups 'appear' which are not there in the original.

There is an important issue about visits to the church leaving their mark in the Liber Vitae. In the fifteenth-century St Alban's books of confraternity it is quite explicit when a group has made a visit, e.g. someone with their retainers.

Philological considerations. There is no doubt that the Scandinavian names have undergone orthographic modernisation and rearrangement of the names (e.g. the first two of the names on p. 10 of Wallis are not earls of Cnut at all).

The name Clape (Osgot Clape) is just a Norse by-name and does not reflect a family connection. There are also mistakes which must have arisen in a process of later editing.

Layout: Fol. 10: the original lay-out was quite complex, with col. 2 mostly left blank, but this was abandoned. Why were the names of Waltheof and Siward placed above the top line?

Assmt: Was the book an edited creation of the early 12th century or does it represent earlier lists? Were groups consciously being entered in particular circumstances? (The group is healthily sceptical of Althoff.) How far are names identified or not in the lists, how far was it necessary for names to be identifiable? We must be rigorous in observing the information in the text; but how can we identify the possibilities of groups without rigidifying them?

B. Problems in dealing with the personal names of the 12th-century parts of the Durham Liber Vitae: led by John Insley

John presented two sheets from the Thorney Liber Vitae (fols. 9v and 10r). How far can we use the names for historical purposes? It is very important to avoid linguistic misconceptions, such as that Scandinavian was spoken for a long time in the Thorney region. Note at the bottom of fol. 9v forms like Leofcwen is wif. The genitive is an English form. The form Scelduere is Scandinavian *Skjaldver anglicised. It is not possible to establish whether the 'c' form is an anglicisation of pronunciation. This can be regarded as a piece of English text which should be compared, for example, with the list of York festemen published in Simon Keynes's edition of the York Gospels. See also Exeter and Bath manumissions, as genuine example of OE or even early ME texts. See, for example, David Pelteret's list. Nevertheless some entries are not genuine OE texts, since the scribe uses the initial 'T' for Turkyl, which shows that the scribe is adopting continental practice. The text, in other words, is a sort of mixed form.

The preparation of an onomasticon for the Thorney Liber Vitae does not involve the division of the manuscript into blocks (which was how Cecily Clark had been advised by Neil Ker). This is not a task for such a compilation but for a proper palaeographical investigation. An onomasticon is basically a linguistic dictionary.

Osbern is a very common name in the Thorney Liber Vitae (Osbernus). It is best not to regard it as Scandinavian 'Asbjorn', but simply as Norman 'Osbern'. We cannot in point of fact tell what is behind it. Forms such as this in the Durham Liber Vitae, however, point to the late arrival of Scandinavians.

Many of the names in the Thorney lists are stereotypes, with occasional forms which represent dialect. For example, on fol. 10, col. 3, we find a typically south-eastern spelling of the name Æthelswith (Kent through into the south-eastern part of Suffolk). The uncompounded name-forms in the Thorney Liber Vitae, however, do not look excessively archaic.

In the case of Adelais, all you can say is that the scribe has anglicised. Aliz is probably closest to the spoken form.

There are also Flemish-type names such as Emmechin, Hardkin, Tepman (but cf. Teppekin in Domesday Book for Suffolk). There are also names of Breton origin.


The rubric 'Hec sunt nomina fratrum istius loci' on fol. 10r of the Thorney Liber Vitae means confratres for fratres. This is not an abnormal usage. The importance of this rubric for the function of the book should be emphasised.

Is the layout of the gospels in the Liber Vitae significant in terms of the commemoration of the dead. DWR should consult Arnold Angenendt.

C. Liber Vitae of Newminster and Hyde: comparisons with the Durham Liber Vitae, led by Lynda Rollason

The edition of the Liber Vitae of Newminster and Hyde by W. de Gray Birch (Liber Vitae: Register and Martyrology of New Minster and Hyde Abbey, Winchester (London and Winchester: Hampshire Record Society, 1892)) precedes the catalogue of Stowe manuscripts and there is thus a discrepancy between it and the shelf-mark given in the catalogue.

Nothing is known of the manuscript in the 16th and 17th centuries, when it completely disappears from view and its contents (even ones of great interest like the will of King Alfred) are not referred to by scholars. It appears again in 1710. In 1769, it was given by Michael Lort to Thomas Astill, who was in 1783 keeper of the manuscripts in the Tower of London. Astill annotated the manuscript first in pencil and then, as he became surer of himself, by over-writing the pencil in black ink. He reordered some of the pages and provided an elaborate table of contents.

The core of this Liber Vitae was devised and executed as a unity, apparently in the earlier part of 1031. It has a rubric giving its function quite explicitly as to be used in the daily mass for the commemoration of those named in it when the sub-deacon would read out sections from it insofar as was practicable. It contains lists of benefactors, friends, and those in a wider association with the monastery, as well as shorter lists of religious houses and their inmates who were explicitly said to have been in confraternity with the Newminster. Other parts of the manuscript contain, for example, lists of names of saints in heaven (a sort of litany). Not all the original lists were well constructed; for example, the lists of bishops differ widely from other known list. The list of benefactors contains only fifteen names, all of men.

Moreover, the list of bishops had only five or six lines left blank for further names to be entered. It was in fact the only list as such to have been continued and that was only patchily.

As at Durham, there was a continuous tradition of entering the names of monks. Unlike in the Durham Liber Vitae, lists of monks were given under the names of their abbots. Fols. 62-4 contain names of the monks of Newminster taking them through to those who were monks under the last but one, but not the last, abbot. Possibly the book was removed from the monastery before the Dissolution.

Simon Keynes believed that the names of lay persons were also entered continuously into the book, and followed on directly from the 1031 compilation. In fact, it seems likely that there were many lay names entered in the 11th and 12th cernturies and then again in the 12th and 13th (there may in fact have been a restart in the list of names beginning with Henry I on fol. 24v); but there was then a hiatus until the 15th century. Fol. 65r looks as if it is the beginning of a 'restart' of the book. In the 16th century, we find many names being entered in the time of Abbot Romsey (see fol. 68r), whose predecessor had been rather lax. Was the reuse of the Liber Vitae associated with a return to former standards?

Assessment: The additions of lay names was not anticipated in the 1031 structure so these names had to be entered on new lists. Note that they were never added to text pages.

Note the parallels between this book and the Durham Liber Vitae, not least the revival in use in the period after 1480, when a large proportion of the names in the Durham book is found.

There must have been a martyrology so that benefactors' obits could be observed, since the Liber Vitae contains no dates.


In fact, the failure to record names in the calendars that are in the necrologies of churches is very striking, and this perhaps parallels the entering of names in the Liber Vitae but not in the martyrology which we see at at Duram. The disappearnace of calendars in and after period of the Reformation may in part explain it.

There are interesting parallels. The guild of Corpus Christi at Bristol had records of all the obits the guild was obliged to keep. The pattern of interruptions and restarts in use is also seen in the parish registers of St Botulph.

There may be a distinction between the living and the dead. The living were to be actually prayed for; the dead had their names entered in the book.

Perhaps agreements to celebrate anniversaries were entered rather in the calendars.

There was always the consideration of the cost of materials, which may have been an impetus towards using every bit of the book for later additions.


A. Progress to date - report by David Rollason
B. The edition, led by Willard McCarty

Principals of the edition

The central problem of an electronic edition to address is: what is the edition? what are its parts? what does it look like? what do the parts do? how do we design for the future?

It is important to discover what has been done to date, and what tools are at hand to help out.

Looking at the manuscsript, what do we want to call an entity and what do we want to call an attribute? What are the basics, the 'primitives', and what are the attributes we want to use to describe them? Is a name an 'entity' with attributes such as etymology?

The necessity of imagining what we want to put into people's hands, actual and virtual

What sort of interfaces do we want best to help the researcher. Assumption that should underpin the electronic edition:

it should be 'a network with a thousand entrances' (i.e. as many orderings of things as we can imagine, and the potential for as many orderings which those coming after us could imagine). of these, an especially privileged entrance should be the digital images themselves (you should be able to look at the electronic edition as closely as possible as if you had the manuscript itself in your hands). these entrances should be rendered as analytically and operationally powerful as possible; we are not thinking of a page-turner. We are looking for images which have knowledges embedded in them, allowing layers to be represented graphically. image enhancement software could be obtained by the user (what is therefore wanted is a guide to the most efficacious use of that software, e.g. in removing bleedthrough - what 'filters' do you use to do this?). With a limited budget, there is no future in building image-enhancement software. We may of course wish to do enhancements and to provide them in the edition.

Entities are to be entered in the transcription by mark-up techniques which say what is needed to be said about these entities. This use of mark-up is the basis for the flexibility of the edition.


  • 'Edition' does not entirely convey what is being produced here, but there is currently no better word. In effect, the transcript is an edition, although the word itself is a bit curious for a text of which there is only one manuscript.
  • Will most people come to the edition via study of the pages, or via enquiries into the content (how many ninth-century names are there?). If you want to go back to the text, the edition should take you back to the digital image. We need to think very carefully about what the entrances are, although we do not know and cannot predict how people will use the edition.
  • There was some discussion of how far enhancement software could be used if the photographic process had not anticipated it. Reference was made to the British Library's Green palimspest project, and it was agreed that David Rollason and Alan Piper should speak about this to Claire Breay when she was in Durham. [She indicated in discussion that the British Library mostly used Photoshop for its work, but she was aware of much more advanced software being used on a quasi-commercial basis in Italy. She expressed enthusiasm to take part in a seminar which the project might organise on digitisation and representation of medieval manuscripts. The possibility of using a video-spectral comparator on the manuscript itself should not, however, be lost sight of.]

Many of the identifications are hypothetical identifications, so that the starting-point is the name and not the person. Commentators have often been spotting names that they could identify, which risks misrepresenting names or missing the signficance of groups. The electronic edition will be able to represent the difference between the data and hypothetical reconstructions.

Why are there no lists of popes as a category? It is anachronistic to think that they saw popes as so important, as any more than just another set of bishops.

The occurrence of saints in the New Minster Liber Vitae as representing the company of heaven was noted.

The seminar received sample biographies of monks (from Alan Piper), of twelfth-century laity (by John Moore), and of a later medieval figure, John Appleby (by Lynda Rollason), and also a possible schema of the data structure from David Rollason. The biographies were to illustrate the range of types and detail of information which would have to be accommodated, but it was not possible to give detailed consideration to them in the context of the seminar. The data structure, which it was agreed could form the basis of trial implementation, was as follows:

Discussion of the proposed hard copy volume to go with the edition

What is currently in mind is a substantial hard-copy volume with introductory material, with the digital edition as an electronic version in the back (possibly giving access to the edition via the web). Although there are problems in some countries, some such configuration would give maximum flexibility. No final decision need be taken now. If at all possible, it would be excellent to have a hard copy of the facsimile, and we should ask a publisher whether that would be possible. We need to press for this and see if this could be done. There is, of course, a problem with the preservation of electronic editions, but this has to be addressed.

David Rollason presented the following proposed schema:

layout text The project: David Rollason layout text 1k layout text
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layout text Libri vitae: functions, contexts and terminology: Lynda Rollason layout text 6k layout text
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layout text Description layout text 3k layout text
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layout text Codicology: Michael Gullick layout text 10k layout text
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layout text History: Colin Tite layout text 3k layout text
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layout text Present condition: Michelle Brown layout text 2k layout text
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layout text Ninth-Century Handwriting and layout: David Ganz layout text 3k layout text
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layout text Gold and silver lettering technique: Michael Gullick layout text 3k layout text
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layout text Ninth-Century Initials and their comparanda: Michelle Brown layout text 3k layout text
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layout text Handwriting and layout: Alan Piper, Ian Doyle, Michael Gullick layout text 5k layout text
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layout text A. Comparanda: Ursula Lenker layout text 3k layout text
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layout text Contents and Genesis: Elizabeth Briggs/ Jan Gerchow layout text 10k layout text
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layout text Context: continental comparanda: Jan Gerchow and Dieter Geuenich layout text 6k layout text
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layout text Context: English comparanda: Simon Keynes layout text 6k layout text
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layout text Context: Northumbrian history: David Rollason layout text 6k layout text
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layout text A. Groupings and pacta: Andrew Wareham layout text 5k layout text
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layout text B. Ecclesiastical orders in the Durham Liber Vitae layout text 3k layout text
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layout text C. Pre-Conquest additions: Andrew Wareham layout text 7k layout text
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layout text D. Historical grammar of the names: John Insley layout text 20k ? layout text
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layout text E. 'Problem names': David Dumville layout text 8k layout text
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layout text F. Britonic names: Paul Russell layout text 5k layout text
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layout text G. Manumissions: David Pelteret layout text 4k layout text
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1. The 11th-, 12th- and 13th-Century Sections
layout text A. Contents and Genesis: Andrew Wareham layout text 10k layout text
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layout text B. Context: comparanda: Andrew Wareham and Lynda Rollason layout text 4k layout text
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layout text C. Context: the foundation and early history of Durham Cathedral Priory: Alan Piper layout text 4k layout text
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layout text D. The names of the monks: Alan Piper layout text 3k layout text
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layout text E. Families, groupings and affinities: John Moore layout text 3k layout text
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layout text F. Conventiones layout text 2k layout text
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layout text G. Charters layout text 2k layout text
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layout text H. Name forms: John Insley: layout text 5k layout text
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2. The Late Medieval Sections
layout text A. Contents and genesis: Lynda Rollason layout text 4k layout text
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layout text B. Context: comparanda: Lynda and David Rollason layout text 7k layout text
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layout text C. Context: the history of Durham Cathedral Priory: Alan Piper layout text 4k layout text
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layout text D. Context: relaunching the book in Durham Cathedral: Lynda Rollason layout text 4k layout text
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layout text E. The names of monks: Alan Piper layout text 3k layout text
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layout text F. The lay names in the Durham Liber Vitae: the book's function: Lynda Rollason layout text 12k layout text
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layout text G. The church in late medieval Durham: Margaret Harvey layout text 3k layout text
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layout text H. The Liber Vitae and the Reformation layout text 2k layout text
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layout text Name-forms: Peter McClure? layout text 5k layout text
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3. The Edition
layout text A. Digitisation Standards and Techniques: Michelle Brown layout text 1k layout text
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layout text B. Image Enhancement facilities: Willard McCarty layout text 2k layout text
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layout text C. Issues of computerised representation: Willard McCarty layout text 10k layout text
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layout text D. The Structure of the Edition: Gabriel Bodard and Willard McCarty layout text 5k layout text
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layout text E. Technical description: standards and metadata: Gabriel Bodard and Willard McCarty layout text 7k layout text
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layout text TOTAL: layout text 202k layout text
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It was considered, however, that this schema, although a useful starting point, overlapped too much with the current volume of papers (this was not a universal view) and would need revision. [A revised version has subsequently been prepared by Andrew Wareham and will be circulated.] It was agreed, however, that firm commitments should be sought from contributors ahead of a meeting with British Library Publications scheduled for September.

Project plan

Willard presented a spreadsheet representing the project's timetabled task-plan, modelled on similar project plans, notably the Prosopography of Anglo-Saxon England and the Clergy of the Church of England Database. This was intended to represent all the tasks which had to be undertaken and completed. Willard asked for suggestions of changes and additions to what was set out on the chart. He also showed the designs for project websites to coordinate and record decisions which need to be recorded centrally. Such decisions include standardisation of names, bibliographic format, which libraries to be consulted. Decisions would also have to be made and recorded about, for example, the expansion or representation of abbreviations - it is, however, important to emphasise that you will always be able to go back to the facsimile image. There will have to be coordinates for names - the way of doing this is not at all obvious.

The project web-site for the recording of such decisions will need to be developed during the current month.

Tasks: see the project plan as filed with the papers.

Points raised:

the need not to lose sight of passages of continuous text in the manuscript the need to coordinate efforts world-wide in image software and enhancement moving around examples of handwriting to juxtapose them is an entirely feasible application the bleed-through is itself an object; it must only temporarily be eliminated - the top level of the facsimile must be as close as possible to what can actually be seen in the manuscript. there might need to be a separate technical publication about the project (including how the edition is to be used), which might be part of the hard-copy introduction. There might be a case for publishing this separately as a report. It might also deal with image enhancement. the project is committed to a popular publication, possibly in the context of Durham Cathedral. It might be published in the context of the celebrations at Durham of the anniversary of the 1104 translation of St Cuthbert, possibly with a spin-off CD or DVD. There is also the possibility of mounting a scaled-down public-access version of the edition, perhaps at Bede's World, Jarrow. There will need to be checking of the transcript from hard copy generated from computerised transcript. In terms of software, we need to look at Anastasia and at Oxford Archinfo. Also relevant may be Peter Robinson's MASTER project for the cataloguing of medieval manuscripts. There needs to be some sort of 'help' facility built into the edition, even though the aim is to have software which will run without errors. We will be working to a six-month look-ahead window as set out in the project plan. We cannot restrict ourselves to English and German scholarship. There is a great deal in Scandinavian on names, which John Insley is willing to help with. There is a great deal done on the use of names, which is may be helpful in this context, e.g. the forthcoming study on naming patterns in the Kingdom of Jerusalem. We ought to be circulating via ANSAXNET etc. and also via computing groups. More popularly, we could put material round the BBC History Website or the Lindisfarne Gospels mailing list. Julia Barrow agreed to act as the 'conduit' for press releases to an early medieval network. Members were asked to send other suggestions. It would be good if relevant publications by members of the group could be flagged up on the project's website, e.g. the publications arising out of the Oxford Prosopography Unit, or papers in the Symeon of Durham collection. Also flagging up the papers in the forthcoming volume.


We will proceed to make available to the group each other's e-mail.

We need a very clear scheme for the fill-in research. E.g. John Moore is working on the 12th-century names; Alan has done all the work on the monastic names etc.

A. Prosopographical approaches to twelfth-century names with a demonstration of the COEL database, led by Katharine Keats-Rohan

Katharine demonstrated the recently published COEL (Continental and English Landholders) database, explaining that its scope was the period 1066-1166. One of its principles was that it always gave access to texts of the original sources, rather than to calendars of those sources or other listings. Thus a user could always access the text of the source in question through the database. It did mean, however, that it had not been possible to use some recently published work because of copyright constraints (e.g. the English Episcopal Acta and David Bates (ed.), Regesta Regum Anglo-Normannorum: The Acta of William I 1066-1087 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1998)).

Katharine demonstrated the way in which names were always linked by aliases to the sources, and she showed how COEL could be used to find family and client groups, and how it could represent lineages and relationships visually. She explained further that the period in question saw a great restriction of the name pool available, a two-name system evolving, and the extensive use of Christian names. This happened first in the Christian kingdom of Jerusalem, on which the Oxford Prosopography Unit was about to publish a volume.

She further demonstrated the potential of COEL in analysing names and groups within the Thorney Liber Vitae, with reference to Andrew's paper of the previous day. There was discussion of the survival of English names in that area, with John Insley emphasising the survival of English and Scandinavian names amongst the peasantry of eastern England.

B. Approaches to family groupings and relationships led by John Moore

John referred to the conclusions of a paper he had published to the effect that the nuclear family was already present in Anglo-Norman England, although it was not known as such until later medieval times. Familia meant household, under a paterfamilias who was therefore outside the household. The biological core of the nuclear family was likely to have been swamped by non-kin, e.g. domestic servants, apprentices, retainers. A clear distinction must be maintained between the family and household (familia).

Neither the family nor the household was normally depicted in full in libri vitae. Entries might include some household domestic staff or retainers, but there was never a full listing even of what in later days might be called the 'travelling household'.

With reference to the Thorney Liber Vitae, John noted that very often only the eldest son is included in family entries, and that daughters were very likely to be omitted. But on fol. 62r of the Durham Liber Vitae, Robert FitzRalph's name occurs with family members but not with his eldest son. Was the latter just not in the party?

Fol. 57r (Durham Liber Vitae) Hugh Bardolf, wife and eldest daughter Beatrix. His other daughters do not occur.

Fol. 63r: One of the many De Stutevilles appears but not his daughters.

Therefore, the Liber Vitae is a very incomplete record of families, although about three dozen are partially recorded in the period in question. We do not of course know whether deceased children were included.

As for the wider kin, you do find the occasional uncle's name (e.g. fol. 63r, Earl Patrick)., More often you find the names of fathers and mothers, e.g. the parents of priests who were likely to have been celibate (e.g. fol. 68r). Chaplains are sometimes recorded and on fol. 57r a maidservant (fol. 57r) of Hugh Bardulf. We also find a secretary (fol. 63r). Retainers of Earl Duncan of Fife on fol. 39v occur.

There will never be any certainty about identifications, although John has been able to identify a majority of the entries with a reasonable degree of assurance. John's work has rather proceeded on the assumption that the people listed in the Liber Vitae are likely to be listed in other written sources, and at peasant level that may simply not be true.

The Durham Liber Vitae is therefore a restricted guide to the family, and the main focus of the book is on individuals and not families.


The potential value of the database created in connection with the English Episcopal Acta project and maintained at the Borthwick Institute was noted. Contact should be made with Pippa Hoskins at York. Emden's Biographical Register of the University of Oxford was potentially very important. Was it available electronically? [The answer is no.] There is no such clear evidence of groups of household members in the Durham Liber Vitae as there appears to be in the Thorney book, although John Insley emphasised that the distinction should not be overdrawn. If these books are about seeking interecession, which saint's intercession was being sought at Thorney? There were local saints but none of any particular importance. Are the entries in these books a reflection of pilgrimage to the church in question? Note particularly the c.700 names in the Liber Vitae of Reichenau. On fol. 47v, 7 lines up, note that the name Hodrun is unetymological. The Old Icelandic form Oddrun has been inserted by a scribe not familiar with Nordic tongues. What is the importance of paraph marks in the manuscript and how should these be represented in the edition? Some unusual names, such as Waleran and Marmaduke, may have been the properties of particular families.

There was considerable discussion, initiated by Robert Swanson, of the purposes of the Liber Vitae. To what was the Liber Vitae actually connected - the monastery, the shrine, the cult? Particular emphasis was laid on:

the potential for understanding the processes represented by the book in the later middle ages of the confraternity book of Santo Spirito in Rome (Necrologi e libri affini della provincia romana, ed. P. Egidi (Fonti per la storia d'Italia 44, 45;2 vols. in 3, Rome, 1908-14)), involving confraternity and the payment of subscriptions. the importance of choice of a confessor as an indulgence in the later middle ages, and also the guarantee of burial even if excommunicated. the payments for death recorded in the Thorney Liber Vitae (p. 11, no. 27 of Wallis's transcript). the Durham Liber Vitae could have been a list of those granted lesser forms of commemoration. the book is a single manuscript but need not have been the product of a single conception. Lynda Rollason would argue that in the 15th century it was transferred to a different altar. Would the occurrence of groups of women's names point to family groupings, especially when interspersed with men's names? Probably not - consider Margery Kemp's links with all sorts of groups, or the mixed-sex group represented in Chaucer's Canterbury Tales. There was a need to include material about monks of Durham who were not in the Liber Vitae, partly because they formed an intrinsic part of Alan Piper's work, partly because their non-occurrence in the Liber Vitae (when by and large there was a complete series of the names of monks) was itself a point of interest to the edition.

C. Sample pages led by Lynda Rollason

It was explained that, under a plan drawn up by Alan Piper, work was proceeding on an exploratory attempt to construct the edition as it might be for a series of sample folios, namely ff. 15rv, 36rv, 66rv, 71rv. There was preliminary examination of these from photocopies. The following general points emerged:

What should be the scale of the palaeographical notes/descriptions? Were the crosses that appeared by names in the lists autograph crosses; and how should this detail be represented? on fol. 71v, Alan Piper noted that 'Robertus de Pyton' was known to be an autograph by comparison with fol. 75r.

D. Definitions of terms, led by Robert Swanson

Robert referred to the discussion of this subject that had been held at the March 2003 seminar, and the group concurred in the need not to use the terms 'necrology', 'martyrology' or 'benefactors' book' in respect of the Liber Vitae.

Robert underlined two basic questions: What are we talking about when we refer to the Liber Vitae? When are we talking about it?

There was particular discussion of the conventions behind giving to a church and how this might affect the entry of names into the Liber Vitae.

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