London, British Library, Harley 55

Present Location


Medieval Provenance

General Information






A miscellany comprising two fragments:

Part 1: Fols 1-4v include three items copied in the early eleventh century: fols 1-3, Bald's Leechbook, Book II, ch. 59; fols 3v-4v, II Eadgar (r. 959-975); fol. 4v, Charters: Miscellaneous: Archbishop Oswald's memoranda on the estates of the see of York Sawyer 1453. Item perhaps annotated by Wulfstan, bishop of Worcester(1003-1016) and archbishop of York (1003-1023). Fols 3v/9-10 and 4r/8 contain annotations by the Tremulous Hand.

Part 2: Fols 5-13v, I, II Cnut , 'Ðis is seo gerednes þe cnut cyning...' (Liebermann1903, p. 278); s. xiimed

Digital Surrogate

Manuscript Items

Item: fol. 5r - fol. 13v


  • Title (B.14.30): I, II Cnut

    Rubric (initial): (fol. 5r) Đis is seo gerednes þe cnut cyning ealles engla landes cyninge. onddena cyninge ondnorþrigena cyninge ge rædde ondhis ƿitan gode to lofe.ond him sylfum to cyne scipe ondto þearfe. rade sƿa hƿæðer sƿa man ƿille;

    Incipit: (fol. 5r) Đis is seo gerednes þe cnut cynige mid his ƿitena geþeahte ge redde gode to lofe.

    Explicit: (fol. 13v) God ælmihtig us eallum ge miltryge sƿa his ƿille sy amen.

    Text Language: English


    Ker 1957, item 226

    Object Description


    Form: Fragment

    Support: Parchment


    • 290 mm x 190 mm (dimensions of fols 1-4 - size of leave)
    • 206 mm x 145 mm (dimensions of fols 1-4 - size of written space)
    • 270 mm x 190 mm (dimensions of fols 5-13 - size of leave)
    • 206 mm x 152 mm (dimensions of fols 5-13 - size of written space)

    Foliation and/or Pagination: Foliated formerly 3-11.


    • Quires: Part 1 is made up of 2 bifolia. Part 2 is a quire of 10 leaves, wanting 10, probably blank. Fol. 13v, column 1/31-35 and column 2 is blank. This gathering is probably from the end of a manuscript.


    • Part 1, ruled on the hair side, double bounding lines on both side of the frame. Part 2, two columns, 35 lines. Ruled in hard point, pricks in both margins to guide ruling. Single vertical bounding lines, first line above top line.

    Hand Description

    • Number of hands: 2
    • Hand: main text
      • Scope: Sole
      • Script: English Vernacular Minuscule
      • Ker reference: Ker 226
      • Description: Part 2: fols 5-13. A regular hand which adopts many Caroline features, but insular characters are present. Ker describes this hand as 'a widely spaced, pointed hand' datable to s. xiimed (1957, p. 302).
      • Summary of the characteristics of the hand:
      • Caroline a.
      • d the same shape and size as ð, with a short and pointy ascender.
      • s insular and Caroline s are used indifferently. Suprascript round sonce at a line-end, fol. 5.
      • ð the same size and shape as d.
      • y straight-limb and dotted.
      • descenders the ends curve to the left.
      • The shaft of ˥ slopes to the left.
      • Punctuation: hyphen is a fine upward-sloping line.
    • Hand: annotations
      • Scope: minor
      • Scribe: Tremulous Scribe
      • Script: English Vernacular Minuscule
      • Description: Extensive glosses, corrections and alterations by the Tremulous Hand (Franzen 1998, p. 46).
    Decoration Description

    Red initials with pen-ink work in red. Tinted first letters of a sentence in red.

    Binding Description

    British Library binding with Harley arms and motto gilt-tooled at centre of covers.

    Additional Information

    Administration Information

    Manuscript described by Orietta Da Rold with the assistance of Hollie Morgan and Thom Gobbitt (April 2010; September 2012).


    Digital surrogate: (accessedul 18 July 2018)

    EM Project facsimile

    Watson, Andrew George, Catalogue of Dated and Datable Manuscripts, c. 700-1600 in the Department of Manuscripts, the British Library, 2 vols (London: British Museum, 1979), vol. 2, plate 21 (fol. 3v)






    As the manuscript is annotated by the 'Tremulous Hand', it is possible that at least the first part was at Worcester at the beginning of the thirteenth century (Watson1979, p. 118, item 629). Harley 55 is one of the manuscripts used by Lambarde for his Archaionomia, 1568. The manuscript belonged to John Selden (1584-1655), who presented it to Sir Simonds D'Ewes (1602-1650), in 1648/49 (Letter of thanks in British Library Harley 377, fols 156v-157. See Watson 1966). The volume was purchased on 4 October 1705 with the D'Ewes library by Robert Harley (1661-1724), 1st earl of Oxford and Mortimer. Harley shelfmarks '34.A.16 / 5'5' ' in dark brown ink and pencil and '16/II F' in pencil (fol. 1).


    Sold to parliament in 1753 and thus incorporated in the British Museum (further on the history of the manuscript in the seventeenth and eighteenth century, see the British Library, Manuscripts Catalogue).




    British Library, A Catalogue of the Harleian Manuscripts in the British Museum. With indexes of persons, places, and matters ... Printed by command of His Majesty King George III, in pursuance of an address of the House of commons of Great Britain (London: Eyre and Strahan, 1808-12)

    Manuscripts Catalogue (British Library,; accessed in 2010)

    Cameron, A., 'List of Old English Texts', in A Plan for a Dictionary of Old English, ed. by R. Frank and A. Cameron (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1973), pp. 25-306

    Franzen, Christine, and W. Collier, 'The Tremulous Worcester Hand and Gregory's Pastoral Care', Anglo-Saxon England, 17 (1988), 195-208

    Franzen, Christine, The Tremulous Hand of Worcester: A Study of Old English in the Thirteenth Century (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1991)

    Gneuss, Helmut, Handlist of Anglo-Saxon Manuscripts: A List of Manuscripts and Manuscript Fragments Written or Owned in England up to 1100 (Tempe, AZ: Arizona Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies, 2001), item 412

    Ker, N. R., Catalogue of Manuscripts Containing Anglo-Saxon (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1957; repr. 1990), item 226

    Laing, Margaret, Catalogue of Sources for a Linguistic Atlas of Early Medieval English (Woodbridge: Brewer, 1993), p. 87

    Liebermann, F., ed., Die Gesetze der Angelsachsen, 3 vols (Tübingen: Niemeyer, 1903), vol. I: Text und Übersetzung

    Scragg, Donald, Alexander Rumble, and Kathryn Powell, C11 Database Project(Manchester Centre for Anglo-Saxon Studies,; accessed in 2009)

    Wanley, Humfrey, Antique literature septentrionalis liber alter (Oxford: Sheldonian Theatre, 1705)

    Watson, Andrew G., Catalogue of Dated and Datable Manuscripts, c. 700-1600 in the Department of Manuscripts, the British Library, 2 vols (London: British Museum, 1979), vol. 1, p. 118, item 629

      ---, The Library of Sir Simonds D'Ewes (London: British Museum, 1966)