DCL MS. A.II.2Medieval library catalogues
Held by: Durham Cathedral Library: Durham Cathedral Manuscripts

Second and only surviving volume of a Bible written in England (Durham) in the third quarter of the 12th century, probably the two volume bible presented by Bishop Hugh du Puiset to Durham Priory before 1195. The text corresponds closely to DCL MS A.II.4 in choice of prefaces, presence of stichometric notes, and even such details as the 2-line gap between entries 3 and 4 in the capitula for Hebrews, the extra phrase between Hebrew 11.23 and 24, and that between Jude verses 21 and 22; on the evidence of the gospel texts, Glunz (History of the Vulgate in England, 193-4) concluded DCL MS A.II.4 was the exemplar. Yet there are sufficient discrepancies (e.g. different order of books prior to Tobit, different number of capitula both to and within I and II Maccabees, different readings at the end of the prologue to I Maccabees, different endings to Psalm 150, different wording of rubrics to Matthew preface, prodesse/prodidisse at the end of Luke Preface; inclusion in the present MS only of Preface S 631 to Acts, different number of capitula for Acts, etc.) to indicate that more detailed comparison is required to establish the exact nature of the relationship.

Digitised: https://n2t.durham.ac.uk/ark:/32150/t1msn009x94p.html

Physical description of manuscript

Parchment: stout, even-toned; weathered. Arranged HF, FH. Lower margin of f.1 and outer margin of f.189 and 204 cropped off. Small hole burned through text area of f.128. Straw bookmarks between f.51/52 and f.213/214.

Extent: i+295+i f
Size: 422 mm x 304 mm


Modern pencil foliation, starting with 1 on first parchment leaf. An older ink foliation, added to every tenth leaf, started counting from the first leaf of the text (pencil f.2) and is thus one behind the continuous foliation until 290 which it also labels 290.

Secundo folio: posita est, illic significatur

flyleaf (f.1) a singleton, now glued at the gutter to f. 2, I-XVI10, XVII2, XVIII-XXX10, XXXI1 (f.294, now glued at the gutter to f.293); endleaf (f.295, now glued at the gutter to f.294). The small quire XVII is a near-contemporary supplement or replacement.

Catchwords: Contemporary catchwords survive on most original Old Testament quires bar the last (I-III, VII-XVI); none on the New Testament quires.
Signatures: A continuous sequence of original signatures (Roman numerals) runs through the original quires: .I.-.XVI. on quire I-XVI, continuing with .XVII.-.XXIX. on what are now quires XVIII-XXX.

Written area: 320 x 180 mm. Two columns (width, 81 mm). Lines: 46 lines (space, 6-7 mm; height of minims, 3 mm).
Pricking: awl. Pricked in both side margins for the horizontal rulings. Prickings generally survive in inner, upper and lower margins, sometimes in outer as well. Two sets of prickings in both side margins in quires I-II. Further L-shaped lines of prickings in the lower margin of f.123-126 (quire XIII) unrelated to any ruling.
Ruling: ink or lead; occasionally (e.g. f.143-4) hardpoint. Double verticals flank both columns (2 in total in the intercolumnar space). In the Old Testmant (quires I-XVI) the first and last horizontals are extended; in the New Testament (quires XVII-XXX) it is the first, last and middle (24th) horizontals. On the inserted f.162-3, the first third, last and antepenultimate horizontals are extended.


Written in Protogothic by a single scribe (also responsible for rubrics and for running headings to the end of Acts), who concluded his work (f.294r) with “Te deum laudamus” as a colophon. A second contemporary hand was responsible for corrections: the inserted f.162-3, and corrections in rasura throughout (e.g. passages on f.41r/col. 1, f.44v/col. 1, f.62r/col. 1); such interventions being especially numerous in Acts and I Corinthians, and including the entirety of the Preface to I Corinthians (f.248r) and the first Preface to Philippians (f.263r), plus the end of the first Preface to Colossians (f.264v).


Decorated initials (simple foliate curls against a multicoloured ground) for the incipits of Luke (f.192v), Acts (f.223v), Philemon (f.273r), and Hebrews (f.273v) in an archaic style reminiscent of 11th/12th century work. Arabesque initials, 4+ lines high, head all other biblical books, certain prefaces, and Psalms 26, 38, 51, 52, 68, 80, 97, 101, 109; the finest and largest (22 lines high) for Paralipomenon (f.3r). Both types are probably the work of a single hand.
Single colour plain or embellished initials, 2 to 3-lines high, head other prefaces. Single colour initials, 1.5-2 lines high, head capitula lists and the other psalms; 1-line-high letters, red, green or blue, for subsequent entries therein, for subsections within the biblical text, and for psalm verses. Spaces (6- to 8-lines high) reserved for initials on the inserted f.162-3 remained unfilled. Sentence capitals on these leaves were stroked with yellow. Sketches in ink or lead added to certain margins, 13th or 14th century, including: profile head (f.10r, f.163r, f.232r), beast and bird (f.232r).

Corrections and annotation

Lead notes, 13th or 14th century, beside the incipits of Tobit (“non est correctus -?-”), Judith (“non est correctus liber iudit′”), Esther (“non est correctus”), Ezra preface (“non est correctus”), Ezra (“correcta capitula”), Psalm prefaces (“Non est correctus”), Matthew capitula (“Capitula librorum totius noui testamenti et fere ?omnes prologi ?dum corriguntur”). Most of the added running headings from f.243r (in Romans) are in similar script.


Standard Tuckett binding, mid 19th century full brown calf over thick wooden boards (Charles Tuckett, binder to the British Museum, rebound many Durham manuscripts in the 19th century). f.295 preserves traces of turnovers, of four corner studs, and of a quincunx of pins from a single clasp fixture (at the fore-edge) on an earlier binding. A rust-ringed hole at the centre of f.1 from a central boss on a former binding.

Manuscript history

Written in England, Durham, third quarter of 12th century.


Probably the second volume of Hugh de Puiset’s second Bible.
Pressmark: “K”, 14th/15th century, f.3r, top left.

Manuscript contents
(a)     f.1v
Modern title: List of contents
Language: Latin

The first four entries were made in red, lacking their initials, in a formal Protogothic, later 12th century. The remainder, complete with initials, was added in black in an informal cursive, 13th century, and “In isto uolumine continentur ista subscripta” was prefixed to the first four entries. f.1r, blank.

(b)     f.2-294r
Modern title: Bible
Language: Latin

Part II of a 2-volume set (Paralipomenon - Apocalypse). f.294v-295v, blank bar late medieval recipe jottings on 295r.

Microfilmed in 1985/86 by the Hill Monastic Manuscript Library, St John's Abbey and University, Collegeville, Minnesota. Copies held by them and Durham Cathedral Library.

Digitised material for Durham Cathedral Library MS. A.II.2 - Bible (part 2 Paralipomenon - Apocalypse)
Digitised July 2019 as part of the Durham Priory Library 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]).

Mynors, R.A.B., 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)

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