DCL MS. A.II.4Bible of William of St Calais
Held by: Durham Cathedral Library: Durham Cathedral Manuscripts

The second and only surviving volume of a large Atlantic Bible that was one of the group of books donated by William of St Calais, bishop of Durham (died 1096), containing the text of the Bible - the Old Testament from the book of Daniel and the New Testament. It was created in Normandy towards the end of the 11th century and also carries, on the first page, a contemporary list of the books donated by St Calais.

Digitised: https://n2t.durham.ac.uk/ark:/32150/t2mcz30ps641.html

Physical description of manuscript


Extent: i+173+i f
Size: 490 mm x 312 mm


Modern pencil foliation


I-X8, XI5 (8, leaves 5-8 after fol. 86 [the end of the Old Testament] excised), XII-XIV10, XV11 (originally 10 with a supply leaf prefixed in 12th century); XVI10; XVII6; XVIII-XIX10; XX8; XXI2. Quires of the Old Testament (I-XI) are entirely 10s, while the New Testament (XI-XX) are predominantly 8s.

Signatures: Contemporary signatures (large Roman numeral flanked by dots) on final versos.

Written in two columns of 54-57 lines


Written in two main Protogothic hands: (b) is written by the Carilef Bible Scribe and (a) and (c) are written by Simeon of Durham.


Each book of the Bible and some prefaces has a large decorated initial coloured in red, green, blue, purple or yellow, the work of an artist who has been identified in other manuscripts by the Carilef Bible scribe.

Corrections and annotation

Near contemporary corrections have been made to the text.


Standard Tuckett binding, mid 19th century full brown calf over thick wooden boards with 2 metal clasps (Charles Tuckett, binder to the British Museum, rebound many Durham manuscripts in the mid 19th century)

Manuscript history

Written in Normandy, end of 11th century.


Given by William of St Calais to Durham Priory before his death in 1096.

Manuscript contents
(a)     f.1r
Modern title: William of St Calais book donation list
Author: Simeon of Durham, -approximately 1130
Date: [before 1096]
Incipit: Ista sunt nomina librorum quos dominus Willelmus episcopus sancto cuthberto dedit
Explicit: Martyrologium et regula
Language: Latin

Edited: Browne 1988
(b)     f.2r-170v
Modern title: Bible
Original title: Biblia
Date: [before 1096]
Incipit: Danielem prophetam iuxta septuaginta interpretes domini saluatoris ecclesie non legunt
Explicit: cum omnibus uobis. Amen
Rubric: Incipit prefatio sancti Ieronimi presbiteri in librum danihelis prophete
Language: Latin

Second half of the text of the Latin Bible, containing the concluding portion of the Old Testament and the New Testament (from Daniel to Apocalypse).

(c)     f.170v-173v
Modern title: Commentary on Apocalypse
Original title: Expositio in Apocalypsin beati Johannis
Author: Haimo of Auxerre
Date: [before 1130]
Incipit: Apocalypsis hec inter reliquos noui testamenti libros prophetia uocatur
Explicit: Benedicto & claritas & sapientia & gratiarum actum ...
Language: Latin

In the hand of Simeon of Durham. Breaks off at 7.12 of the text in mid sentence at the end of column 1 of the final verso of the volume.

Digitised material for Durham Cathedral Library MS. A.II.4 - Bible of William of St Calais
Digitised in October 2014 as part of the Durham Priory Recreated Project


Catalogi veteres librorum Ecclesiae cathedralis Dunelm. Catalogues of the library of Durham cathedral, at various periods, from the conquest to the dissolution, including catalogues of the library of the abbey of Hulne, and of the mss.   OCLC citation, Surtees Society 7, (London: J.B. Nichols and Son, [1838]).

Browne, A. C., "Bishop William of St. Carilef's book donations to Durham Cathedral Priory", Scriptorium 42 (1988) 140-155

Gameson, Richard, ed., Manuscript treasures of Durham Cathedral, Richard Gameson with contributions by A. I. Doyle, John McKinnell, David Rollason, and Lynda Rollason and with a foreword by the Dean of Durham (London: Third Millennium Publishing, 2010)

Gullick, Michael, "The scribe of the Carilef Bible: a new look at some late-eleventh-century Durham Cathedral manuscripts" in Brownrigg, L. L., ed., Medieval book production: assessing the evidence. Proceedings of the Second Conference of the Seminar in the History of the Book to 1500, Oxford, July 1988 (Los Altos Hills, Calif.: Anderson-Lovelace, 1990), 61-83

Mynors, R., Durham Cathedral manuscripts to the end of the twelfth century. Ten plates in colour and forty-seven in monochrome. With an introduction [including a list of all known Durham manuscripts before 1200]   OCLC citation, (Durham: 1939)

Index terms