Taunton, Somerset County Record Office, DD/SASC/1193/77

Present Location


Medieval Provenance

General Information




Four leaves containing parts of 'brief expositions or homilies on the pericopes for four successive Sundays after Pentecost' (Gretsch 2004, p. 145) which, according to Conti (2008), is a bilingual copy of the Homiliary of Angers.

Manuscript Items
  1. Item: pp. 5-7
    • Title (B. Anonymous Homilies [for unspecified occasions, listed under the opening words]: Ernnostlice we se gemildheorte hu gemete

      Incipit (Latin): (p. 5) misericordes; quomodo sicut et pater uester; | misericors est

      Incipit: (p. 5) Ernnostlice wese ge mildheorte | hu gemete. swá swá eowre heofonlic fedur mild | heorte is

      Explicit: (p. 7) 7 rixað on weorulde | weoruld. amen. seo hit swa.

      Text Language: English and Latin


      Gretsch 2004, pp. 152-53

  2. Item: pp. 7-8, 1-2
    • Title (B. Anonymous Homilies [for unspecified occasions, listed under the opening words]: On ðam tide mid ði þæt folc geðrungon to ðem helende

      Incipit (Latin): (p. 7) In illo tempore; Cum turba inruerent ad | iesum ut audirent uerbumdei

      Incipit: (p. 7) On ðam tide mid ði þæt folc geðrungon to ðem | helende

      Explicit: (p. 2) 7 drihtin blitsiende on | weorolde weruld seo hit efre swa; buton eg | hwilcum ende. amen

      Text Language: English and Latin


      Gretsch 2004, pp. 153-56

  3. Item: pp. 2-4
    • Title (B. Anonymous Homilies [for unspecified occasions, listed under the opening words]: On ðam tyde se helend cwæð to his lernunge cnihtas

      Incipit (Latin): (p. 2) [I]N illo tempore; Dixit iesus discipulis suis;

      Incipit: (p. 2) On | ðam tyde se helend cwæð to his lernunge | cnihtas

      Explicit: (p. 4) 7 rixað on weorulde werold seo hit swa bu | ton eghwilcum ende amen


      Gretsch 2004, pp. 156-58.

  4. Item: p. 4
    • Title (B. Anonymous Homilies [for unspecified occasions, listed under the opening words]: On ðam tyde mycel folc wes mid þem helende

      Incipit (Latin): (p. 4) [I]N illo tempore; Cum turba multa esset cum | iesu; et reliqua.

      Incipit: (p. 4) On ðam tyde mycel folc wes | mid þem helende. 7 he ne hafdon hwet he | aton

      Explicit: (p.4) Gif ic forlete heom | festende faren on here husas þonne te | orgon he on wege;

      Explicit (Latin): (p.4) Quidam enim ex eis

      Text Language: English and Latin


      Gretsch 2004, p. 158.

Object Description


Four folios

Support: Parchment.


  • c. 245 mm x 185 mm (dimensions of all - size of leaves)
  • c. 205 mm x 135 mm (dimensions of all - size of written space)

Foliation/Pagination: Paginated 1-8.


Quires: Four leaves, all now separately mounted and repaired.

Condition: The parchment has been repaired several times, probably in the 1950s or 60s. Pages 5-7 are now overlaid with silk.

Note: Gretsch argues that the four leaves are two bifolia from the same original quire, a suggestion that requires the original lengths of the texts they contain to be equal (2004, p. 147). However, Conti argues that a comparison of the texts with those in Angers, Bibliothèque municipale, 236 indicates that the first lacuna is likely to be twice as long as the second and third (2008, p. 25). In addition, pp. 5-6 and 3-4 have a series of four matching incisions approximately 15 mm from the inner edge of the folio and pp. 7-8, 1-2 have a series of five matching incisions 30 mm from the folio's inner edge, showing that the four pages were not sewn together, but as 'two sets comprising two folios each' (Conti 2008, p. 25). All of the folios are now dismembered, so there is no physical evidence that any of the folios ever constituted a single bifolium. Ruled for 20 lines.  

Hand Description

Number of Hands: 1

Summary: main text

Scope: sole

Scribe: Taunton SC1

Script: Insular minuscule

Description: Pages 1-8. 'Anglo-Saxon minuscule of an unpretentious kind' (Gretsch 2004), which Gretsch dates as mid-eleventh century, citing Gullick who guesses at 'post-Conquest'. Dating is very difficult, since the hand seems archaic if it is eleventh century, belonging, perhaps, to a centre that is not at the forefront of script innovation (see Treharne 2009). This is a hand whose cognates are themselves difficult to localise, date and define: Cambridge, Corpus Christi College, 41 is the one of the closest analogues in terms of both general aspect and specific features. In the Taunton Fragment, the aspect is upright (with the slightest leftward slant), and squarish, with a broad horizontal expansiveness. Interlinear space is generous, lines are long with an average of seven to eight words per line. Abbreviations are common in the Latin, less so in the English. The mise-en-page emphasises legibility, but many of the spellings are idiosyncratic ('drihtin', 'blitsiende', 'weruld'), again suggesting a writing environment which is less, rather than more, formal.

Summary of the characteristics of the hand:

  • a is usually insular in the Old English and the Latin, and is often tear-drop shaped. On one occasion a tall-backed Caroline a is used.
  • The ascender of b has a tag to the left.
  • d is round-backed in English, with an upstroke that is higher than earlier eleventh-century minuscule. Round-backed d is also used in the Latin on occasion.
  • f is insular in the English script and Caroline in Latin. In the former, the middle stroke of f is longer than the headstroke.
  • g is usually insular with a rounded, nearly circular bowl in the English. The tail begins from the middle of the headstroke. A distinctive Caroline g appears in the Latin with a large, sweeping and unclosed tail.
  • The ascender of h has a tag to the left. The form is insular in both Latin and English.
  • The ascender of l has a mannered finial.
  • r is Caroline.
  • s is low or high in both English and Latin.
  • The ascender of þ has a tag to the left.
  • The upstroke of ð is the same height as other ascenders. The cross-stroke starts from the right of the upstroke.
  • y is straight-limbed, formed with two strokes and often dotted.
  • ascenders are straight and wedged, tagged to the left, or slightly split.
  • descenders are straight and very occasionally have the slightest curve to the left.

Punctuation: punctuation is most frequently the punctus, placed at medial height; the punctus versus, with a long comma; and the punctus elevatus, with a good deal of space between the punctus and the tick.

Abbreviations: Abbreviations are denoted by a very characteristic straight macron, placed a few millimetres above the graph. The abbreviation for 'that' is notable: the oblique line through the ascender of æ is very straight.

Ligatures: There are a few examples of the ct ligature, written so that the two letters are very separate from each other, and one of the final nt ligatures. (Gretsch 2004, pp. 147-9)

Additional Information

Administration Information

Manuscript described by Elaine Treharne with the assistance of Hollie Morgan (August 2010; September 2012).


Images of pp. 1 and 6 are found in Gretsch, Mechthild, 'The Taunton Fragment: a new text from Anglo-Saxon England', Anglo-Saxon England, 33 (2004), 145-93, pl. 3-4





The wearing at the edge and the incisions found in the writing area of the folios may suggest that they were used as wrappings or covers of other documents.


It is unknown when the Somerset Archaeological and Natural History Society acquired the manuscript, but it must have been after its foundation in 1849.




Bidgood, William, A Guide to the Museum of the Somerset Archaeological and Natural History Society in Taunton Castle (Taunton: Somerset Archaeological and Natural History Society, 1883)

Chavasse, A., 'Les Plus Anciens Types du Lectionnaire et d l'Antiphonaire Romains de la Messe. Rapports et Date', RB, 62 (1952), 1-91

Conti, Aidan, 'The Taunton Fragment and the Homiliary of Angers: Context for New Old English', Review of English Studies, 60, no. 243 (2008), 1-33

Dumville, D. N., English Caroline Script and Monastic History: Studies in Benedictinism, A.D. 950-1030, Studies in Anglo-Saxon History, 6 (Woodbridge: Boydell, 1993)

---, 'Beowulf Come Lately. Some Notes on the Palaeography of the Nowell Codex', Archiv fær das Studium der neueren Sprachen und Literaturen, 225 (1988), 49-63

---, 'Specimina Codicum Palaeoanglicorum', in Kansai University Collection of Essays in Commemoration of the 50th Anniversary of the Institute of Oriental and Occidental Studies (Osaka, 2001), pp. 1-24

Gneuss, Helmut, 'Addenda and Corrigenda to the Handlist of Anglo-Saxon Manuscripts', Anglo-Saxon England, 32 (2003), 293-305, no. 756.8

---, 'The Homiliary of the Taunton Fragments', Notes and Queries, 52, no. 4 (2005), 440-42

Gretsch, Mechthild, 'The Taunton Fragment: A New Text from Anglo-Saxon England', Anglo-Saxon England, 33 (2004), 145-93

Pelle, Stephen, 'The Seven Pains of Hell: The Latin Source for an Old English Homiletic Motif', Review of English Studies, 62 (2011), 167-80

Treharne, Elaine, 'Scribal Connections in Late Anglo-Saxon England', in Texts and Traditions of Medieval Pastoral Care: Essays in Honour of Bella Millett, ed. by Cate Gunn and Catherine Innes-Parker (Woodbridge: Boydell and Brewer, 2009), pp. 29-46