Oxford, Bodleian Library, Junius 121 (5232)

Present Location

121 (5232)

Medieval Provenance

General Information






A book for episcopal use, including canonical, penitential, and homiletic texts, many associated with Archbishop Wulfstan (d. 1023) and his commonplace book tradition (see Bateson 1895; Sauer 2000). The manuscript was produced in Worcester a generation or so after Archbishop Wulfstan's death, during the episcopate of St Wulfstan (1062-95), and compiled c. 1060-72, with Hatton 113 and Hatton 114 (Franzen 1998, p. 55-56). Glosses added by the Tremulous Hand.

Object Description



Support: Parchment.


  • vii + 161 + i 265 mm x 155 mm (dimensions of all - size of leaves)

Foliation/Pagination: Foliated. An earlier foliation in Joscelyn's hand starts from 1 on fol. 102 and ends at 59 on fol. 160. (Franzen 1998, pp. 56, 58)


Quires: 1-168; 3 and 6 in Quires 5 and 6 are half-sheets; 1710; 18-198; 208 wants 8, probably blank. Fol. 161 (the last of Quire 20) is paper.

Signatures: Quire signatures are marked on the left hand side of the bottom margin of the last verso of Quire 2: 'a' (fol. 16v); and on left hand side of the bottom margin of the first recto of Quires 3-14: 'b' (fol. 17r); 'c' (fol. 25r); 'd' (fol. 33r); 'e' (fol. 41r); 'f' (fol. 49r); 'g' (fol. 57r); 'h' (fol. 64r); 'i' (fol. 72r); 'k' (fol. 80r); 'l' (fol. 88r); 'm' (fol. 96r); 'n' (fol. 104r). [The quire signatures in Hatton 113, beginning at 'p', are probably a continuation of these.]  

Condition: The first folios of the manuscript have wormholes, but mostly the condition is very good. There are more holes in parchment towards the end of the book. Fol. 9 has the bottom right (recto) cut away. Fol. 81 has been mended with paper.

Layout Description:

1. Layout:

  • Columns: 2
  • Written Lines: 22
  • Locus: Fols 1-8
  • Dimensions: 198 mm x 108 mm; ruled
  • Overview: 23 lines of two columns for table of contents, with double bounding lines right, left, and centre.

2. Layout:

  • Columns: 1
  • Written Lines: 22
  • Locus: Fols 9-127; 138-45
  • Dimensions: 198 mm x 106 mm; ruled
  • Overview: 23 long lines with double bounding lines, right and left.

3. Layout:

  • Columns: 1
  • Written Lines: 21
  • Locus: Fols 128-137 (Quire 17)
  • Dimensions: 187 mm x 904 mm; ruled
  • Overview: 22 long lines with double bounding lines, right and left.

Hand Description


Number of Hands: 11

Summary: The bulk of the manuscript (fols 5-137) is written by one hand (Ker's Hand 1, Ker 1957, item 338, at p. 417), apparently the same as the main hand of Hatton 113 and Hatton 114 (Ker 1957, item 331). There are a number of additions (glosses and larger pieces) to the manuscript by at least ten other hands.

Hand: main text

Scope: major

Script: English Vernacular Minuscule

Ker reference: Ker 338 SC1

Description: Fols 5-137. Ker describes this as a Worcester script; this hand is also found in other Worcester manuscripts including CCCC 178 (1957, p. 417: see also item 41). The 'possible change of hand' on fol. 111 seems to be simply a thicker pen, although ð is slightly different; the overall appearance is similar to Hand 2.

Summary of the characteristics of the hand:

  • same occasional high a
  • The shape of the second element of æ is influenced by the letter which succeeds it.
  • e is round-backed or horned depending on its place in the word and the following letter.
  • Wide tail on g.
  • s is slightly wedgier.
  • The descender of þ is notched.
  • Most ascenders except that of þ are clubbed, but some ascenders have wedged clubs and some are wedged; for example, on h and b, in English and Latin.

Correcting technique: Some erasures, some additions: found throughout the manuscript. 'gesƿr⁁aecan' added interlinearly. The colour of the added letter a is paler than the main text. It might have been added at a later stage.

Language: English and Latin

Other manuscripts: The same hand as in Hatton 113 and probably Junius 121


Hand: main text

Scope: major

Script: English Vernacular Minuscule

Ker reference: Ker 338 SC1

Description: Fols 1v-2v. This is very like the main hand; in fact, since the first folios are in Latin and much of Hand 1 is written in Old English, the two are not always directly comparable. Where Hand 1 writes in Latin there are similar features: some mixing of clubs and wedges; slant on Caroline h, wedgy p, wide open g.

Summary of the characteristics of the hand: Some letters are distinct enough to suggest that these are two separate hands: 

  • more of a wedge on long s which has a long descender in this hand.
  • x has a long descender in this hand.


Hand: main text

Scope: major

Scribe: possibly Hemming

Script: English Vernacular Minuscule

Description: Fols 148v/10-22; 150r; 150v/16-151r; 152r-3v; 154r/17-154v/12. This hand is angular and upright, the letters are quite narrow, it is possibly the hand of Hemming (Ker 1948, p. 417).

Summary of the characteristics of the hand:

  • The top of e in æ is very high.
  • d has a very short and tiny ascender.
  • g has an open bowl.
  • h has very tiny feet.
  • Long s is sometimes almost flat-topped.

Abbreviations: The orum abbreviation slants downwards.


Hand: main text

Scope: major

Script: Caroline

Ker reference: Ker 338 SC4

Description: Fols 3-4. This is quite a rounded Caroline script, wedges and clubs are not mixed (unlike in other hands in this manuscript).

Abbreviations: The orum abbreviation is straight.


Hand: main text

Scope: major

Script: English Vernacular Minuscule

Ker reference: Ker 338 SC5

Description: Fols 4r-v. This hand has long loopy descenders and wedges.

Summary of the characteristics of the hand:

  • Occasionally a big loopy Caroline a.


Hand: main text

Scope: major

Script: English Vernacular Minuscule

Ker reference: Ker 338 SC6

Description: Fols 138r-48v. This is quite like Hand 2, and just possibly could be the same as it, except that this hand seems less practised. This hand is rounder than Hand 1 and sometimes leans to the right slightly.

Summary of the characteristics of the hand:

  • ð tends to flick to the right.


Hand: main text

Scope: major

Script: English Vernacular Minuscule

Ker reference: Ker 338 SC7

Description: Fols 149r-v; 150v/1-15; 151v. This hand has wedges on the feet of minims. ˥ is almost at right-angles. The descenders don't usually have wedges on their feet. On fol 150v/1-15 possibly a thinner pen.

Summary of the characteristics of the hand:

  • y: curves to the left noticeably.
  • g: has a closed bowl.
  • Long s: very high and has quite a long descender, too. Very wedgy. This is similar to Hands 1 and 2, but quite thick.


Hand: main text

Scope: major

Script: English Vernacular Minuscule

Ker reference: Ker 338 SC8

Description: Fols 154r/1-16. Uneven hand. The letters are not always firmly on the ruled line.

Summary of the characteristics of the hand:

  • Ascender on d very short long.
  • Has a high e, slightly left-leaning.
  • a few odd ð where the scribe has drawn o and then added an ascender.
  • Closed bowl on g.
  • Long descenders.


Hand: main text

Scope: major

Script: English Vernacular Minuscule

Ker reference: Ker 338 SC9

Description: Fols 154v-157. This scribe is not good at writing on the lines. This is a left-leaning, flowing script.

Summary of the characteristics of the hand:

  • a: round.
  • æ: round.
  • Open g.
  • High long s sometimes with descender drooping below the line.
  • ˥ is high.
  • The top of ð curls round to the right.
  • The bottoms of the descenders flick to the left
  • y long and left-flicking
  • Chunky feet on minims.


Hand: main text

Scope: major

Script: English Vernacular Minuscule

Ker reference: Ker 338 SC10

Description: Fols 157-60. This hand is quite square and wedgy.

Summary of the characteristics of the hand:

  • d the ascender is short.
  • y is long and flicks to the left
  • The bowl of g is open.


Hand: glosses and alterations

Scope: minor

Scribe: Tremulous Hand

Script: English Vernacular Minuscule

Description: There are several layers of glosses by the Tremulous Hand in Latin and English.

Date: s. xiii1

Decoration Description

Some blue initials, e.g. fol. 124v; also numerous green and red initials, often used alternately in a text (presumably to highlight sections for reading).

Binding Description

Bound, s. xviii, in blind-tooled brown leather (Ure 1957, p. 3)

Additional Information

Administration Information

Manuscript described by Helen Foxhall Forbes with the assistance of Hollie Morgan (September 2010).


EM Project facsimile

Franzen, Christine, 'Oxford, Bodleian Junius 121 (5232): Ecclesiastical Institutes, Homilies', in Anglo-Saxon Manuscripts in Microfiche Facsimile (Tempe, AZ: Medieval and Renaissance Texts and Studies, 1998), pp. 55-67

Images of Oxford, Bodleian Library, Junius 121 are available on LUNA at the Bodleian Library (accessed 24 July 2018)



Written in Worcester.

Provenance: Worcester.

Acquisition: It was amongst the manuscripts of Francis Junius, and acquired by the Bodleian Library in 1678.




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