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The Canterbury 'Codex Aureus' inscription
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introduction | Old English text and translation

This is a mid-ninth-century inscription, on folio 11 of the Codex Aureus ('Golden Book'), a copy of the Latin Gospels now in Sweden, in the Royal Library at Stockholm (Stockholm, Kungliga Biblioteket, MS A. 135). It records the presentation of the book to the monastic community of Christ Church, Canterbury. The inscription runs along the top margin, and is continued at the foot of the page.

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Canterbury Codex Aureus: Royal Library, Stockholm, MS A. 135, f. 11
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Text and Translation

The text is from Sweet's Anglo-Saxon Reader in Prose and Verse, rev. Dorothy Whitelock (Oxford: Clarendon, 1967), p. 205. The editor has italicised the Latin in the text; letters or words in square brackets have been cut away by the binder.

+ In nomine Domini nostri Ihesu Christi. Ic Aelfred aldormon ond Werburg min gefera begetan þas bec æt hæthnum herge mid uncre clæne feo; thæt thonne wæs mid clæne golde. Ond thæt wit deodan for Godes lufan ond for uncre saule thearf[e], ond for thon the wit noldan thæt thas halgan beoc lencg in thære hæthenesse wunaden, ond nu willath heo gesellan inn to Cristes circan God to lofe ond to wuldre ond to weorthunga, ond his throwunga to thoncunga, ond thæm godcundan geferscipe to brucen[n]e the in Cristes circan dæghwæmlice Godes lof rærath; to thæm gerade thæt heo mon arede eghwelce monathe for Aelfred ond for Werburge ond for Alhthrythe, heora saulum to ecum lecedome, tha hwile the God gesegen hæbbe thæt fulwiht æt theosse stowe beon mote. Ec swelce ic Aelfred dux ond Werburg biddath ond halsiath on Godes almaehtiges noman ond on allra his haligra thæt nænig mon seo to thon gedyrstig thætte thas halgan beoc aselle oththe atheode from Cristes circan tha hwile the fulwiht [s]t[on]da[n mote].

Aelfre[d]
Werbur[g]
Alhthryth eorum [filia]

+ In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. I, Earl Alfred, and my wife Werburg procured these books from the heathen invading army with our own money; the purchase was made with pure gold. And we did that for the love of God and for the benefit of our souls, and because neither of us wanted these holy works to remain any longer in heathen hands. And now we wish to present them to Christ Church to God's praise and glory and honour, and as thanksgiving for his sufferings, and for the use of the religious community which glorifies God daily in Christ Church; in order that they should be read aloud every month for Alfred and for Werburg and for Alhthryth, for the eternal salvation of their souls, as long as God decrees that Christianity should survive in that place. And also I, Earl Alfred, and Werburg beg and entreat in the name of Almighty God and of all his saints that no man should be so presumptuous as to give away or remove these holy works from Christ Church as long as Christianity survives there.

Alfred
Werburg
Alhthryth their daughter

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Set up by Bella Millett,  enm@soton.ac.uk.  MS reproduced by kind permission of Phaidon Press and the Royal Library, Stockholm. Translation of Old English text by Bella Millett. Last updated 17 October 2011.