Posted by: kljolly | November 15, 2019

Pilgrimage, sailing, and saint’s lives

Aldred’s journey homeward as a twenty-something includes a stint at Govan (Scotland), where he joins the pilgrimage of Cathroe.  I ambitiously outlined the ten-year period from Aldred at the Battle of Brunanburh to his return to Northumbria in an earlier post, Ubi Sunt, that set out my spring sabbatical writing agenda.  That was followed by an account of Aldred’s stay at Glendalough (Ransom) detailed in letters between Aldred and his family.  I then began a chapter that starts with Aldred meeting Cathroe in Govan, embarking on a pilgrimage journey that turned into an odyssey, at least for me.  I made great progress, learned a lot, and intended to post a series of queries on the blog, but then Life happened, I was back in the classroom…and this post delayed.

What started out as a road trip story based on the life of St. Cathroe’s pilgrimage turned into a sea journey and then into a series of saint’s lives recounted at each pilgrimage stop.  I had fun writing the chapter (which is not quite done) but also annotated it with a lot of questions about some of my choices and their historical viability.

1.  Languages. Aldred is living and traveling with people of different linguistic abilities:  Latin, English, Norse, Irish, Gaelic (Scots and/or Cumbric), Welsh.  Everyone in this northern region is probably at least bilingual, but in different combinations.  Some languages are related enough to have some mutual intelligibility (English and Norse, potentially).  Clerics raised in a religious community would find Latin a common language across unintelligible boundaries.  In the course of the chapter and Aldred’s encounters with different people, I have to explain how they communicated, in some cases with someone translating for someone else.  For Aldred himself, I am drawing on my own weak experiences with hearing/speaking other languages.  This is the background note I wrote to myself for the chapter:

Aldred may have spent two years in Ireland, and now finds himself in a Cumbric speaking kingdom, but he has no ear for learning languages orally or speaking them.  He grew up bilingual in his native vernacular Northumbrian English and Latin, but has trouble with Celtic languages, never really learns to speak them well, and has trouble sometimes following a story told aloud.  As a budding scholar, he feels stupid, but as a scribe he has discovered he is a visual learner: he sees words spelled.  He speaks Latin primarily with other clerics.  Lay nobles, household servants, ship’s crews are mostly bilingual or trilingual in English, Norse, Irish, or some form of Gaelic (Cumbric is lost to us, but similar to Welsh).

Throughout the chapter, I indicate when Aldred is having difficulty following something, or occasions when someone translates for someone else:  when the Norse serving boy, who can understand English and some Gaelic, doesn’t understand Latin, or stumbles over an unfamiliar English or Gaelic word; or when Irish clerics mix Latin and Irish in macaronic speech, Aldred has to ask questions.

Does this approach make sense? 



2.  Seafaring Pilgrimage.  The Life of Cathroe (Vita Kaddroe) indicates that Cathroe of Alba was escorted by Scots King Constantine to Govan, where he was received by Strathclyde (Cumbrian) King Dyfnwal, who escorted the pilgrim saint to his borders at Loida (Lowther).  The obvious way to proceed from Govan to Lowther would be overland, with the king itinerating through his territories and relying on the resources of his holdings there.   While traveling overland would make sense both for pilgrims on foot and for an itinerating king, it presents a transportation problem of horse-riding warriors versus on-foot pilgrims.  Going by ship is faster and easier, even though having to go the long way around Galloway.  And it allows me to have them make pilgrimage stops at Arran (St. Molaise’s island) and Whithorn (St. Ninian), which would not be on the itinerary overland.  This choice also forced me to learn a lot about tides, ships, and aquatic life.

Is this choice of traveling by ship too far-fetched?

More questions to come, but for now these are the two big ones.

Posted by: kljolly | April 24, 2019


After the traumatic battle of Brunanburh in 937, Aldred is taken to Ireland, as I described in my previous post, Ubi Sunt.  This interlude chapter of the novel consists of letters he exchanges with his godfather and namesake Aldred, and his mother Tilwif and sister Bega. In these letters, he is struggling with doubt and depression, and debt.


The Tune Ship, built c. 910.  Aldred might have sailed on something like this.

I have altered the end of the previous Brunanburh chapter (much earlier draft here) to indicate that he is taken aboard one of the last departing viking ships of Anlaf by two Glendalough monks who befriended him.  Unfortunately, through some linguistic miscommunication and the usual rapacity of such viking captains, Aldred is held for ransom (or at least payment of his passage) when they arrive at Wicklow.  The Glendalough monks pay for him, and now Aldred owes them a debt.

Most of the accounts of ransom that give the amount are for very high status persons involving huge sums of money in gold and silver, plus herds of cattle and the like:  in 858 the abbot of St. Denis and his brother were redeemed for 686 pounds gold and 3250 pounds silver (Annals of St. Bertin, 858); an eleventh-century princeling was worth 60 ounces gold, 60 ounces white silver, 1200 cows, a sword, 120 horses, and exchange of hostages (Hudson, 111).  On the other hand, a slave might be manumitted for 10 mancuses (Pelteret, 152-54), about 300 silver pennies (Sawyer, 102-04).

For Aldred, if he is simply being redeemed for the cost of his passage and potential value if held as a slave, I devised this possible ransom scenario, as recounted in his letter to his godfather:

Our Irish brothers redeemed me as hostage from the viking sea captain, who sought payment for carrying me with them to Wicklow.  It seems the value of a weaponless but sturdy young man is one pig, five chickens, and twelve ores of silver.  I am repaying the pig, chickens, and my own food and shelter here with the labor of a scribe, but I am unable to repay the ¾ lb bag of silver, 212 pennies stamped by King Athelstan with a cross.

In what I hope is a good foreshadowing element, I am having Aldred’s debt include the mysterious twelve ores of silver that he later mentions in his colophon to the Lindisfarne Gospels:  eight ores of silver plus glossing the first three gospels, apparently for his entrance to the community of St. Cuthbert, and four ores of silver for the Gospel of John, for God and St. Cuthbert (although see a different interpretation of the silver ores here, as silver borders).

And [I] Aldred, unworthy and most miserable priest over-glossed it in English with the help of God and St. Cuthbert. And, by means of the three parts, he made a home for himself. The Matthew part for God and St. Cuthbert, the Mark part for the bishop/s, and the Luke part for the community, and eight ores of silver for his induction.

And the St John part for himself (it is for his soul), and four ores of silver for God and St Cuthbert: so that he may gain acceptance through God’s mercy into heaven, happiness and peace, on earth, progress and increase, wisdom and prudence through the merits of St Cuthbert.

If Aldred’s ora are Old Norse eyrir (gen. eyris, plural aurar), then each is equivalent to one ounce of silver (A Concise Dictionary of Old Icelandic; see also Bosworth-Toller).  Twelve ounces of silver would be 3/4 of a pound–often such payments are measured in weight. If translated into English silver pennies, whose weight was set from the time of King Alfred at 1.6 grams (= 0.05643834 ounces), then 12 ounces/ores of silver would be approximately 212+ silver pennies.  Someone please check my math, since numismatics and calculations are not my strong suit!

The common coinage in the viking-dominated Dublin arc, including hoards found at Glenadalough, is ironically the English silver penny (Etchingham, 219-20), such as this one minted by King Athelstan and found at Glendalough:


Athelstan circumscription cross type silver penny.  British Museum 1839,1214.111


As for the repayment, I have Aldred’s godfather send this reply:

The delay in sending this letter is caused by the need to find an honest messenger traveling with a trustworthy armed warband. He brings the payment of your redemption, coin for coin but with the viking mark of St. Peter at York, a gift to the brothers of Glendalough, servants of St. Kevin, from the brothers of Chester-le-Street, servants of St. Cuthbert.

I am not sure, however, what his godfather would call this coin (not “viking”).  Perhaps I am trying to be too clever here, in having Aldred’s Irish friends pay the viking ship captain in English coin of King Athelstan, only to have Aldred’s English godfather repay in local Northumbrian viking coin.

Circa 900, Northumbrian coinage (previously much debased) was being minted by the viking rulers of York, many found in the Cuerdale hoard (Williams, 198-99; and Blackburn, tba).  The dating for the Scandinavian rulers of York are tricky for the years surrounding Brunanburh, and the coins are not always much help since only some have ruler names on them.  It is too early for Anlaf Guthfrithson’s  York pennies with  Old Norse on them  (939)–he hasn’t gotten back to York yet.  But 937 is also a bit late for some of the other coins coming out of viking York before the submission to Athelstan in 927, some with Scandinavian symbols such as hammers and swords appearing with Christian symbols like the cross:


Silver York penny with cross, hammer, sword.  British Museum 1915,0507.772

It may be safer to stick with the more neutral of these York coins, those with the plain reference to St. Peter and a cross:


York silver penny, St. Peter two-line phase 2.  British Museum 1959,1210.9.

Such coins may still have been in circulation, given to or hoarded at places like Chester-le-Street, rather than re-minted at York in Wessex King Athelstan’s name.  Maybe the community of St. Cuthbert held onto these York St. Peter coins for use on just such an occasion as this, redeeming a Northumbrian cleric from viking pirates in Ireland, with a pinch of irony attached.


  • Annals of St. Bertin, MGH edition, p. 49.
  • Blackburn, Mark A. S. Viking Coinage and Currency in the British Isles.  London:  Spink, 2011.
  • Etchingham, Colmán. “The Viking Impact on Glendalough.”  In Charles Doherty, Linda Doran, and Mary Kelly, eds., Glendalough:  City of God.  Dublin:  Four Courts Press for the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland, 2011,  pp. 211-22.
  • Hudson, Benjamin. Viking Pirates and Christian Princes:  Dynasty, Religion, and Empire in the North Atlantic. Oxford:  Oxford University Press, 2005.
  • Pelteret, David A. E. Slavery in Early Medieval England:  From the Reign of Alfred until the Twelfth Century.  Woodbridge:  Boydell Press, 1995.
  • Sawyer, Peter. The Wealth of Anglo-Saxon England. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013.
  • Williams, Gareth. “Kingship, Christianity and Coinage:  Monetary and Political Perspectives on Silver Economy in the Viking Age.” In James Graham-Campbell, James and Gareth Williams, eds., Silver Economy in the Viking Age.  Walnut Creek: Routledge, 2007,  pp. 177-214.
Posted by: kljolly | March 20, 2019

Ubi sunt

I am trying to fill in a ten year gap in Aldred’s story, from the battle of Brunanburh in 937, when Aldred is 19, to the ill-fated bishopric of Sexhelm in 947, after which Aldred becomes a priest.  Since the inspiration for this fictional biography came from Aldred’s scribal activities later in life as priest and provost, I began with stories built around those texts of circa 950-970, and then began filling in his earlier life experiences.  These ten years, Aldred in his twenties, are crucial for his spiritual formation and later vocation.  Here are my current ideas:

937-39 Glendalough, Ireland


Glendalough tower, author photo 2013

I may make the ending of the previous chapter at Brunanburh a bit more ambiguous in terms of his vocation, and also have him scooped up by Anlaf’s retreating group and taken on the ship to Dublin, sort of but not quite as a hostage.  Traumatized by these events, Aldred enters a period of doubt and depression, but is befriended or redeemed by monks at Glendalough, where he studies for two years.  My plan is to make this an “interlude” chapter of letters he exchanges with his mother, sister, and godfather Aldred at Chester-le-Street.  Models for such letters include those of Boniface and Alcuin, but I intend to make Aldred’s letters macaronic in the best Irish style, a mix of Latin and English, drawing on his own colophon marginalia.  Those to his godfather Aldred include ubi sunt reflections from Isidore of Seville’s Synonyma, a popular lament akin to the psalms and a common teaching text.


Whithorn cross, author photo 2015


939-41 Strathclyde and Scotland

Aldred returns to the north on a viking ship from Dublin, ends up primarily in Strathclyde under King Dyfnwal, but also travels in the Scottish realm of King Constantine, who beat a hasty retreat from Brunanburh.  Aldred might travel in the entourage of Anlaf Guthfrithsson, who returned from Dublin after the death of King Athelstan of Wessex in 939 and became king of Northumbria, followed by the other Anlaf, Sihtricsson.  While in Strathclyde and Scotland, Aldred connects with long-lost family, visits Whithorn and Govan, experiences he may relate looking back in a later chapter.  To find my way through the tangle of politics in this region, not to mention the chaos in Northumbria and York in relation to Wessex, I will be relying heavily on the books and posts of Tim Clarkson (Senchus), especially Strathclyde and the Anglo-Saxons in the Viking Age.

941-42 Back to Northumbria

Stainmore Pass 045

Stainmore Pass, author photo 2013

Too good to pass up, I am going to attach Aldred to the pilgrimage of St. Cathroe of Alba to get him back in his Northumbrian homelands.   According to the Vita Kaddroe, Cathroe was given an escort by Scots king Constantine to “Cumbria,” where he was welcomed by Strathclyde king Dyfnwal, who gave him safe conduct to his border at “Loida” (which Clarkson identifies as Lowther, just south of Penrith, possibly a religious institution).  The nobleman of Loida, Gunderic, then leads Cathroe over the Pennines to York, presumably via Stainmore Pass, a road familiar to Aldred, so I can add him to the entourage.  Cathroe befriends Aldred, who is still puzzling over his vocation, and they discuss Aldhelm’s De virginitate.  At some point before this, Aldred becomes a subdeacon, marking the formal end of his education, but is hesitating on pursuing the diaconate, generally but not absolutely marked by celibacy, and then the priesthood, which would tie him to an altar, ending his travels.  From York, Aldred is finally able to return “home” to Easington to see his mother and sister, and Chester-le-Street, the heart of the Cuthbertine community.

942-44 Easington

For two years, Aldred serves as subdeacon in his own family’s church at their Easington estate, which his mother Tilwif and sister Bega, under the influence of abbess Bega, have turned into virtually a women’s religious enclosure for refugees.  Aldred is tempted to marry the young woman he briefly had an encounter with when he was 16, but I do not think I will have him marry.  This is a period of quiet restlessness for Aldred, who misses the travel and the books.  These years may also be recounted in the next chapter, looking back.

944-47 Exile or Pilgrimage

Northumbria 006 Jarrow Lawson Bede

Jarrow,  Bede by Fenwick Lawson (author photo, 2013)

The accession of Bishop Uchtred at Chester-le-Street (944-47) brings some trouble for Aldred.  Uchtred is firmly pro-Wessex, especially with the gifts that King Edmund drops off at Chester-le-Street in 944 after he expels Anlaf Sihtricsson and Ragnall from York, and then moves against Strathclyde.  Aldred’s long sojourn and family ties to Strathclyde bring him under suspicion, undermined by Seaxhelm the Wessex spy and Aldred’s nemesis from the battle of Brunanburh.  Aldred warns his godfather Aldred at Chester-le-Street about Sexhelm’s duplicity, and his godfather speaks up for Aldred with the bishop against Seaxhelm’s insinuations.  But the bishop remains doubtful, so his godfather sends Aldred away (elevating him to deacon first).  Where he goes, I am not sure yet, perhaps the continent, but eventually Cuthbertine communities in Norham (where he was educated earlier), or Hexham.  Or he could be assigned to Crayke as a remote poor site, deacon to the priest there.

947-48 Chester-le-Street

Northumbria 002 Chester-le-Street2

Seaxhelm becomes bishop in 947, a disastrous two or six month episcopacy marked by avarice and tyranny, not to mention Northumbria switching allegiances between Wessex King Eadred and Erik Bloodaxe under the machinations of Archbishop Wulfstan of York (I do wonder if these two episcopal upheavals, at Chester-le-Street and York, are connected).  Godfather Aldred replaces Seaxhelm as bishop and attempts to restore the community of St. Cuthbert, entering into a period of repentance from Lent 947, which I plan to explore with Rogation Days.  With the accession of his godfather as bishop, my Aldred returns to Chester-le-Street, bringing some relics of bishop Acca he “borrowed” from Hexham in a bit of furta sacra (a story told about a later Aldred at Hexham transposed here, see PASE Aldred1 and Symeon of Durham, Historia Regnum).  His episcopal godfather rebukes Aldred as being no better than Seaxhelm, and makes him return the relics to Hexham.   After Aldred’s year-long penance for relic theft, he is ordained priest on Ember Saturday after Pentecost, 948, and assigned to Crayke. That King Eadred, retaliating for the Northumbrian and York betrayal, comes north in 948 and sacks Ripon may figure in Aldred’s story at nearby Crayke.

From there, I have chapters written on his experiences in Crayke (viking attack, field prayers) and return to Chester-le-Street.  The above scenarios for Aldred in his twenties helps explain not only his vocation but also why he needs to “buy” his way into a home at Chester-le-Street in 950 by glossing the Lindisfarne Gospels.


Posted by: kljolly | October 4, 2018

Croziers: history and use

My short foray into croziers in my previous post has led to a deeper dive into the history and use of this item, which turned out to be more complicated than I imagined, and with more Irish than Anglo-Saxon leads in some cases.

The kinds of evidence for crozier use include:  artifacts (actual croziers and pieces); illustrations of croziers in manuscripts; liturgical rites in which it is mentioned; linguistic evidence of terms for crozier (dictionaries and glossaries); and narratives referring to crozier in use, as for example in a life of a bishop saint.  Piecemeal as it is, these bits add up to a picture of a crozier as it might have been used in tenth century Northumbria.



Piecemeal:  the Setne knop fragment

I focused initially on the British Museum’s Irish Kells Crozier and Anglo-Saxon Alcester Tau Crozier head, and the Northumbrian Setne knop found in a Scandinavian grave.  The work by Murray on the latter leads to a number of magnificent Irish croziers and fragments that are the focus of his work on insular croziers, but still the conspicuous absence of Anglo-Saxon croziers is curious.

A search of the British Museum’s online collection for croziers 100-1200 A.D. turned up five Irish fragments made of similar materials as the Kells, that is copper alloy over wood, with silver or gilt (which Murray confirms as the norm for these crook-headed croziers).  But the search only turned up two Anglo-Saxon examples already noted, one the Alcester tau-head, and the other the walrus ivory fragment with the BVM, both late Anglo-Saxon, and of different style and materials than the Irish ones.  This doesn’t mean there are not Anglo-Saxon croziers surviving outside the British Museum, but the ratio of Irish to Anglo-Saxon is borne out by Murray’s work as well.

One might conclude the Irish had their own peculiar tradition of croziers, crook-headed, metal over wood, if it were not for the Setne fragment and other illustrations.


Manuscript images show a variety of shapes for a staff held in the hand of a churchman, some crook-headed, some tau-headed, some with a knob on top.  In general, the crook-headed croziers doesn’t seem to become iconic until the 11th century and later, and by the central and later Middle Ages, it is a common symbol of a bishop on coats of arms and such.

I initially searched using Ohlgren’s Insular and Anglo-Saxon Illuminated Manuscripts: An Iconographic Catalogue, c. a.d. 625 to 1100, concentrating on those clearly identified as a crozier, rather than more generic staff, rod, scepter, or cross-staff.


MacDurnan Gospels Luke

The ninth century Irish MacDurnan Gospels (London Lambeth Palace L MS 1370) passed into the hands of tenth-century Anglo-Saxon King Æthelstan.  Matthew holds his crook-headed crozier cross body, while Luke holds his straight up.


Two other manuscripts show Benedict of Monte Cassino with a crook-headed crozier, presumably as abbot:  Orleans Bib Municipale MS 175, fol. 149v; and the Arundel Psalter (BL MS Arundel 155, fol. 133).  We also have Gregory the Great in full pontifical regalia with a crook-headed crozier in Oxford Bodl MS Tanner 3, fol. 1v (11th cen).

Then there are images of supposedly tau-headed croziers in a similar artistic style, more like wiry fleur-de-lis:  Durham Cathedral Library MS B.III.32, fol. 56v (DigiPal image) and BL Cotton Tiberius A.III, fol. 2v.  The latter shows King Edgar flanked by possibly Ethelwold of Winchester in the vestments of a bishop or abbot, with crozier in right hand, and  Dunstan of Canterbury in bishop’s vestments, staff in left hand.


BL Cotton Tiberius A.III fol. 2v


Last, is an image of a bishop consecrating a church holding a knob-headed staff, in the Lanalet Pontifical, Rouen MS A.27 (368).  Gittos has a reproduction of it (fig. 78).  In another manuscript image of a church consecration in Ben. Æthelwold, BL Additional MS 49598, fol. 118 (Gittos, fig. 6.5), the bishop is not holding a crozier, although liturgical evidence, up next, suggests it had a function in that ceremony.

What we don’t have in these illustrations is an unambiguous picture of an Anglo-Saxon bishop holding a crook-headed crozier.


A crozier or other staff belonging to a bishop turns up in liturgical rituals:  a blessing of the item, probably as part of episcopal ordination; the giving of the crozier as part of the the ordination or installation of a bishop; and the consecration of a new church by a bishop.

The Latin term used is baculum, but sometimes cambutta, or both.  Earlier, these may have referred to two different kinds of staff.  I captured this nugget of information and some of the quotes below and other leads from a three-volume nineteenth-century dissertation by Daniel Rock that I found in googlebooks, but have not tracked all of them down to more current editions.

That the bishop should receive a baculus when consecrated, and what it signifies, is established by Isidore of Seville: Huic autem (episcopo) dum consecratur, datur baculus, ut eius indicio subditam plebem vel regat, vel corrigat, vel infirmitates infirmorum sustineat (S. Isidori, De Eccl. Officiis, lib. ii, cap. v).

The most common statement giving the baculus to a bishop at ordination is similar in tone, some variation on “accept this baculum of pastoral office….”  The Egbert Pontifical (Paris, Bib nat. MS Lat. 10575) has the formula:

Cum datur baculus haec oratio dicitur:  Accipe baculum pastoralis officii et sis in corrigendis uitiis. seuiens. in ira iudicium sine ira tenens. cum iratus fueris misericordiæ reminiscens.

This formula is also found in the Dunstan (Sherborne) Pontifical; Lanalet Pontifical; the Benedictional of Archbishop Robert; and the Leofric Missal.  The latter two late manuscripts have some alternatives and elaborations.  For example, the Leofric Missal (ed. Orchard) offers this longer variant (also found in the Ben. of AB Robert):

2341 HIC DANDVS EST BACVLVS.  Accipe baculum sacri regiminis signum, ut inbecilles consolides, titubantes confirmes, prauos corrigas, rectos dirigas in uiam saluits aeternae, habeasque potestatem erigendi dignos, et corrigendi indignos, cooperante domino nostro ihesu christo qui cum patre in unitate spiritus sancti cui est, honor et imperium per omnia secula seculorum.  Amen.

Embedded in some of these ordinations are blessings of the baculum, some of them poetic.  Egbert and the Ben. AB Robert have these verses before the giving of the item (Banting, p. 146;  fol. 180-180v; quires added at Evreux, c. XI; cf p. xiv).


Tu baculus nostrae et rector per secula uitę.

Istum sanctifica pietatis iure bacillum.

Quo mala sternantur. quo semper recta regnantur.

The Ben. of AB Robert also has a second ordination ritual that includes elaborate instructions for preparing beforehand  vestments and items like the crozier (HBS 24, p. 160), and this additional and more extensive blessing (HBS 24, p. 165):

Benedictio baculi

Omnipotens et misericors deus. qui ineffabili bonitate uotis supplicantium assistis. quique ex tuę pietatis habundantia affectum petendi attribuis. baculo huic quem ad pastoralis officii signum in tuo nomine dedicamus. tuae benedictionis uim copiose infunde. ut eo pastor insignitus. sic populum tuum sollicite custodiat. quatinus ab unitate aecclesię nullatenus deuiare permittat. sed infractum redintegret. quassatum consolidet. seque una cum grege suo integrum tibi atque immaulatum conseruet. per.

These same liturgical books (“pontificals” is the later term) also include the episcopal consecration of churches that might involve actions using the crozier or some other kind of staff in the bishop’s hand.  In the Dunstan (Sherborne) Pontifical, it appears to be used as the bishop approaches the door and asks to enter (Pontificale S. Dunstani, ed. Martene, De Ant. Ecc. Rit. t. ii, lib. ii, cap. xiii, p. 255).

Tunc ingrediatur unus ex diaconibus ecclesiam, & clauso ostio, ante ipsum flet, ceteris omnibus præ foribus remanentibus, & pontifex ter super liminare ecclesiæ cambuta sua aut baculo percutiat dicens:  Tollite portas principes vestras, et elevamini portæ æternales, et introibit rex gloriæ.

Otherwise, the main event where the bishop might use his staff is in tracing the alphabet crossways on the church floor, first one diagonal, then the other, a ceremony explicated by Helen Gittos (p. 233).  The Lanalet Pontifical (HBS 74, p. 7; see also Ben of AB Rob, HBS 24, p. 78) has:

Deinde incipit pontifex de sinistro angulo a oriente scribens per pauimentum cum cambuta sua .a.b.c.darium usque in dexterum angulum occidentalem. et dicit. hanc antiphonam.

Fundamentum aliud nemo potest ponere preter illud denique quod positum est a christo domino . Psalmus. Fundamenta eius.

Et a dextero angulo orientali scribat similiter .a.b.c.darium usque in sinistrum angulum occidentalem basilicę canendo antiphonam.

Haec aula accipiat a deo gratiam benedictionem et misericordiam a chrsto ihesu. Psalmus. Magnus dominus.

It is unclear, though, what exactly the implement is that he uses, whether a crozier or a shorter staff of some kind.

All told, the liturgical uses of the baculum establish that it is a key symbol for the bishop’s office and duties, but there is no strong sense of its meaning linked to a shepherd’s crook shape.


The following stories involving croziers are anecdotal, in the sense that I did not do a complete search but tripped across them along the way.  These first few are taken from Daniel Rock’s seemingly exhaustive catalogue of ecclesiastical regalia and implements, including the pastoral staff (pp. 181-92).

  • Life of Caesarius of Arles, 6th cen:  that a clerk carried the bishop’s staff before him on ceremonial occasions and into the church.
  • Life of Dionysius, 9th cen:  that bishop’s staff was hung over his grave, as appeared in a miracle story.
  • A Carolingian bishop apparently tried to take the king’s scepter as his staff.
  • Odo of Bayeux, according to Symeon of Durham, stole the Durham crozier.
  • Bishop Wulfstan, when deposed by Lanfranc, staked his staff into the grave of Edward the Confessor to make his point.

More specific to pre-Conquest Anglo-Saxon England are a few references in Old English:

  • In an Old English list of saint’s resting places (Secgan be þam Godes sanctum þe on Engla lande ærost reston) in Cambridge, Corpus Christi College 201, bottom of p. 150, Milton Abbey has the arm and staff (crycc) of St. Samson, sixth century Bishop of Dol.  One wonders if the arm is holding the staff….
  • The Old English Martyrology recounts a miracle of St. Ambrose (April 5) in which a Roman general facing an overwhelming host prays to the saint and then has a dream in which the bishop thrusts his staff (crycc) three times on a particular hill in a field, saying Hic, hic, hic, helpfully translated into Old English, her, her, her.  Needless to say the general found the location and won the battle.  London, British Library, MS. Cotton Julius A.X, fol. 76v-77r or see Rauer, pp. 78-79).
  • Crycc, which can mean crutch or staff, is thus used in these two instances to refer to a bishop’s staff.  The OE term bisceopstæf also occurs twice in late Old English, once as an error for bisceopsetl (seat).  OE hæcce as a translation of Lat. baculum appears to be post-Conquest.

These stories establish that bishops carried, or had carried for them, a staff that is more than likely the baculum given them at ordination as a sign of their office and authority.  In some cases it appears to be a substantial item, akin to a walking staff, rather than something held like a scepter and not touching the ground.  Whether it was topped with a ball, tau, or crook is not evident.

Back to the Kells Crozier

I am left wondering, then, whether the Kells Crozier is typical and can be used to visualize these episcopal activities.  I am still convinced that this style of crozier would be possible in Northumbria in the tenth century.

As I circled the glass case in the British Museum, crouching low and peering high, I began to ask some questions about how the thing would be held and carried. At a little over 4.36 feet, its a bit tall to use as a walking staff, especially given the ornateness of its crook. More likely it was carried or held, perhaps cross body like MacDurnan’s Matthew, above.  Where might one hold it?  Between the first and second knops, as in MaDurnan’s Luke, or nearer the middle, between the second and third knops, like Matthew?  The Kells Crozier has crosses hammered onto the shaft between the first and second knops, and between the third and bottom knops, but a cross is either missing or never placed between the second and third knops, midway, a likely handhold.

One can also imagine a bishop holding his crozier out away from his body to use in a blessing, perhaps even signing the cross with it.


  • Banting, H. M. J, ed., Two Anglo-Saxon Pontificals (the Egbert and Sidney Sussex Pontificals), HBS 104 (London:  Boydell, 1989)
  • Dunstan (or Sherborne) Pontifical  (Paris BN MS lat. 943), ed. ), Ordo quomodo domus Dei consecranda est, Pontificale S. Dunstani, ed. E. Martène, De antiquis Ecclesiæ Ritibus, 2nd ed.,  t. ii, lib. ii, cap. xiii, p. 255.
  • Gittos, Helen.  Liturgy, Architecture, and Sacred Places in Anglo-Saxon England.  Oxford, 2015.
  • Johnson R., “On the Dating of Some Early-Medieval Irish Crosiers,” Medieval Archaeology 44 (2000): 115-58.  Marzinzik ref.
  • Lanalet Pontifical, Rouen MS A.27 (368), ed. Doble HBS 74
  • Leofric Missal, 2 vols., ed. Nicholas Orchard, Henry Bradshaw Society 113-114 (London:  Boydell, 2002).
  • Marzinzik, Sonja.  Masterpieces:  Early Medieval Art.  British Museum Press, 2013.
  • Miles, George. The bishops of Lindisfarne, Hexham, Chester-le-Street, and Durham, A.D. 635-1020. Being an introduction to the ecclesiastical history of Northumbria. London: W. Gardner, Darton & co, 1898.
  • Murray, Griffin.  ‘Insular crosiers: an independent tradition?’ in C.  Newman, M. Mannion & F. Gavin (eds) Islands in a Global Context: Proceedings of the 7th International Conference on Insular Art. Four Courts Press, Dublin, 2017, pp 167-77.
  • Murray, Griffin. ‘Christian Missionaries or Viking Raiders? Insular Crosier Fragments in Scandinavia’ in O. Owen, V. Turner & D. Waugh (eds) Proceedings of the 17th Viking Congress, Shetland 2013. Shetland Heritage Publications, Shetland, 2016, pp 173-79.
  • Murray, Griffin. ‘Insular Crosiers from Viking-Age Scandinavia’ Acta Archaeologica 86 (2015), 96-121.
  • Murray, Griffin. ‘Insular-type crosiers: their construction and characteristics’ in R. Moss (ed.) Making and Meaning in Insular Art: proceedings of the fifth international Conference on Insular Art. Four Courts Press, Dublin, 2007, pp. 79-94.
  • Palazzo, Eric.  “The Image of the Bishop in the Middle Ages.” In The Bishop Reformed:  Studies of Episcopal Power and Culture in the Central Middle Ages, ed. John S. Ott and Anna Trumbore Jones.  Aldershot, 2007.
  • Rauer, Christine, ed. and trans.  The Old English Martyrology: Edition, Translation and Commentary (Cambridge: D.S. Brewer, 2013).
  • Rock, Daniel. Church of Our Fathers as seen in St. Osmund’s Rite for the Cathedral of Salisbury, vol. 2 (London: C. Dolman, 1894), pp. 181-98.
  • Wilson, H. A., ed.  Benedictional of Archbishop Robert, HBS 24 (London: Boydell, 1903).





Posted by: kljolly | September 18, 2018


A visit to the British Museum yesterday got me thinking about croziers, and what the bishops of Lindisfarne might have bequeathed to their heirs in exile at Chester-le-Street.  Room 41, the early medieval exhibit with Sutton Hoo as its centerpiece, has two crozier items on display:

The so-called Kells Crozier, from an Irish bishopric, with a classic curved shepherd’s crook, 133 cm tall (4.36 feet).  This metal covered wood staff was constructed and reconstructed between the eighth and twelfth centuries  (Marzinzik 2013, #149).  In one phase in the eleventh century, a sculpted head and reliquary box were added.  To me, the crook looks like the head of a horse or other beastie, something like the crest of a helmet.  See also the Clonmacnoise and the twelfth-century Lismore Crozier (Murray, 2007).


A walrus ivory tau-shaped crozier head,  Anglo-Saxon, early 11th century.  Tau-headed croziers are a late tenth-century innovation as a recommended shape for abbots (Marzinzik 2013, #73). A manuscript illustration shows such tau-headed croziers, but more wiry:  Durham Cathedral Library MS B.III.32, fol. 56v (DigiPal image).  The BM Alcester Tau Crozier has Christ trampling the dragon and lion on one side and a crucifix on the other, as well as stylized beasties and plants.  Although the height of the staff is unknown, the size of the head is much smaller than the Irish crozier. [The BM also has, not on display, another fragment of a late Anglo-Saxon carved walrus crozier head, with the BVM).

Of these two, I am inclined to think that the Irish shepherd’s crook is the more likely shape for the bishopric at Chester-le-Street in the tenth century, both because of their Lindisfarne legacy of Irish connections and because the tau head is a later tenth century innovation associated more with abbots.

RomsdalCrozierBitAnother clue is a remnant of a crozier, one of the knobby bits (knops) as seen on the Kells Crozier’s staff, found in an early tenth century Scandinavian female grave in Setnes, Romsdal.  As half a knop, it was recycled as a piece of jewelry from a late 8th or early 9th century crozier pillaged from northern England (also found a reliquary).  Initially I found these online news articles from 2014 reporting the research results of Griffin Murray (University College Cork):

Besides the Norwegian interest in trumpeting the viking role in preserving British treasures they stole that would otherwise have been lost (and that it “belongs” to Norway), all three articles contain the same images and basic conclusion of Murray that it is from a northern English crozier, not Irish.

Murray’s research is part of a larger project on insular croziers.  Some of his articles on the Scandinavian finds are available at  He gives a more detailed explanation of the Setnes fragment as Northumbrian, with analogues to Cumbrian artifacts of the mid-8th to mid-9th century (Murray 2016, 174).   In this and other articles, Murray takes the side in an ongoing debate that these ecclesiastical remains in Scandinavia are the result of viking raids in the British Isles, not insular Christian missions to Scandinavia.

For my purposes, the Setnes fragment confirms a style of crozier in Northumbria that is similar to the Kells crozier at the British Museum, and allows me to construct a crozier for Bishop Tilred. Perhaps what Tilred, bishop at Chester-le-Street, held in his hand in the tenth century had been refashioned over time from earlier Lindisfarne bishops, as bits were hacked off or damaged.  The core wooden staff might have dated back to Lindisfarne, but the metal work redone along the way.  I may have to write a history of survival for this imagined crozier, to go with the stories of preservation of Cuthbert’s coffin and the Lindisfarne Gospels.

Still to investigate:  textual references or illustrations of a Lindisfarne crozier?

And last, crozier with a z versus crosier with an s?


  • Marzinzik, Sonja.  Masterpieces:  Early Medieval Art.  British Museum Press, 2013.
  • Murray, Griffin.  ‘Christian Missionaries or Viking Raiders? Insular Crosier Fragments in Scandinavia’ in O. Owen, V. Turner & D. Waugh (eds) Proceedings of the 17th Viking Congress, Shetland 2013. Shetland Heritage Publications, Shetland, 2016, pp 173-79.
  • Murray, Griffin.  ‘Insular Crosiers from Viking-Age Scandinavia’ Acta Archaeologica 86 (2015), 96-121.
  • Murray, Griffin.  ‘Insular-type crosiers: their construction and characteristics’ in R. Moss (ed.) Making and Meaning in Insular Art: proceedings of the fifth international Conference on Insular Art. Four Courts Press, Dublin, 2007, pp. 79-94.



Posted by: kljolly | August 7, 2018

Social Media Update

As part of my preparation to go on leave (fall study abroad in London, sabbatical in spring), I have been cleaning house, electronically speaking.

Lanier10ArgumentsInspired by Jaron Lanier’s Ten Arguments for Deleting Your Social Media Accounts Right Now, I am minimizing the commercial aspects of my presence online, in order to reject the behavior modification algorithms and the business model on which Facebook and Google rely.  I deleted my Facebook account.  I am trying DuckDuckGo instead of Google as a search engine.  I bought a WordPress personal account in order to remove ads from this blog.  I have unsubscribed from all of those business lists, some I signed up for to get an electronic receipt, others I have no idea how I got on.

I am not doing this as a Luddite (otherwise I would delete this blog).  Rather, as Lanier encourages, I want to be an independent cat, not a dog following the pack instinct.

In his tenth argument, Lanier points out the soul-destroying aspects of social media’s behavior modification, in particular the erasure of free will.  His arguments persuade me to recover some measure of control over my presence on the Internet.  I can choose to read and engage with responsible journalism, to listen with empathy to under-represented and marginalized voices, to contribute thoughtfully to well-reasoned dialogue.  I aim to listen more and say less, to think globally and act locally:  off-line and in person.

The consequence of listening, speaking, and acting more slowly and deliberately than the contemporary social media world demands is that those of us who resist and reject the terms of engagement on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media platforms can be accused of not speaking up soon enough or publicly enough.  Even as I wrote this post, I experienced the urge to “publish it now, get it out there,” but also the caution, to wait and think about the consequences of speaking like this into a virtual vacuum.

Where and how I choose to invest my time and energy with real people in real time may not be visible on the Internet, “enhance my profile” in the social media world, or further my scholarly reputation, but so what? It is not about me in this moment.  As Dietrich Bonhoeffer argued under far more daunting circumstances, success is daring to face the future for the sake of others:

“The ultimately responsible question is not how I extricate myself heroically from a situation but [how] a coming generation is to go on living.”

Dietrich Bonhoeffer. “After Ten Years:”  Dietrich Bonhoeffer and our Times, edited and introduced by Victoria J. Barnett (Minneapolis:  Fortress Press, 2017), p. 22.

One of the things I have realized while writing a fictional biography of Aldred in the tenth century is the degree to which I have built into his story some of my own struggles with intellectual pride and the desire for attention.  Cultivating some monastic humility is good for the soul.



Posted by: kljolly | May 22, 2018

Æcerbot Ritual Script

Finally, after five posts leading up to it, I get to my imagined script for conducting the field remedy.

One conclusion I am moving toward, so far, is that once we add in all of the Christian liturgical rituals referenced, plus some implied by the ingredients, the dominant mode for this ritual is more self-evidently Christian liturgical than the way most scholars have read this text, as preserving a pre-Christian “pagan” set of charms in Old English with a smattering of Christian wording to make it look good.  Here is why that conclusion is wrong:  the Latin texts drawn from Christian ritual are not written out, because they are well-known to the practitioners, whereas the specific occasion texts in Old English aimed at the Latin-illiterate audience are written out in full for the Latin-literate practitioners.  Once we write out, as below, the Latin ritual texts, this thing gets really long, and really Christian.

Admittedly, I have taken some liberties to produce a script, but only using known texts and practices.  The upshot is a three day performance, imagined as a Saturday day of preparation (Act I), a Sunday sod ceremony (Act II), and a Monday plough ceremony (Act III).  But first a prologue, to set the scene.


Scene 1:  Manor hall; landowner, bailiff, and priest.

Manorial landowner receives report from bailiff of problematic field.  Bailiff suspects someone poisoned it with harmful seeds, or other materials (tainted water or manure).  Landowner believes it is cursed and demonic.

Landowner approaches priest at church on estate, requests assistance.

Priest recalls remedy in manuscript, retrieves and explains.

Scene 2: Fields; landowner, bailiff, and priest.

The three men walk the bounds of the problematic field, noting the scrawny grain and weeds.

Act I:  Day of Preparation (Saturday)

Scene 1:  Village homes, crofts and tofts;  4+ resident lay persons, probably women and children, led by a senior herbwoman, and exorcist :

Herbwoman leads women and children to gather from their households oil, honey, yeast, milk of each animal, piece of each tree (except hardwood) and each plant (except bogbean). Children are encouraged to pluck leaves from every type of plant in their gardens.

Herbwoman grinds and prepares concoction.  She works with exorcist to bless milk and honey.

The exorcist (the clergyperson responsible for clean utensils and purifying materials for liturgical use) might use this prayer for blessing milk and honey:

Benedictio lac et mal (Durham A.IV.19 additions #3 fols 62v18-63v4; see also Leofric Missal 2401)
Benedic domine et has creaturas fontis et lactis et mellis et pota famulos tuos de hoc fonte perenne qui est spiritus ueritatis et enutri eos de hoc melle et lacte.  Tu enim domine promisisti patribus nostris abrahae et issaac et iacob introducam uos in terram repromissionis terram fluentem lac et mel.  imple pro misericordia tua magna haec promissa in nobis eorum filiis aliquantenus et fide et operibus iunge nos famulos tuos in christo et spiritui santo lac et mel iunctum et cuius ducatum accipiemus in eum splendoris albidem in quam uitae passionem suam coram discipulis in monte transfiguratus est et culcidiem æternæ in resurexionem suam fafum mellis commedit per quam hæc domine.

Scene 2:  Woodshop in village; woodcarver and a clergyman (deacon or lector?).

Woodcarver follows deacon’s instructions to construct four quickbeam crosses.  Unilateral cross made of two pieces of smoothed rectilinear wood tied (?) together at intersection. Size:  6-12 inches?

Deacon or lector uses woodcarver’s small pointed knife to carve four evangelists names on each of the four ends of the crosses.

Scene 3:  Manor house; landowner and bailiff.

Arrange for almsmen and unknown seed, and double seed to give back.

Scene 4:  Barn/storage shed; bailiff and several lay male field workers.

Gather plough tools, have ready.

Use an awl to bore hole in body of the plough.

Scene 5:  Church sacristy and sanctuary; exorcist and acolyte, herbwoman.

(NB:  usually holy water and salt blessed on Sunday for subsequent use, but included here to show the process).

Herbwoman gathers incense, fennel, hallowed soap, and hallowed salt, works with exorcist for hallowing.  She compounds the ingredients and puts in jar with lid.  [Q:  is this whole compound making incense from these ingredients, and meant to be burned, perhaps as part of boring the hole in the plough into which the seed is placed?]

Exorcist performs exorcisms and blessings of salt and water, incense, soap, maybe the fennel also.  Some samples:

                Benedictio Incensi, Missal of Robert of Jum., p. 281
Domine deus omnipotens cui assistunt exercitus angelorum cum tremore quorum seruitus inuentu (sic) et ignem conuertitur dignare domine respicere et benedicere hanc creaturam tuam incensi. ut omnes languores insidias (sic) odorem ipsius sentientes effugiant. et separentur a plasma (sic) tua quos praetioso sanguine redemisti filii tui. et numquam laedantur a morsu antiqui serpentis. per…
                salt halguncge to acrum ond to berenne one in husum (Durham Collectar 642)
Exorcizo te, creatura salis, in nomine patris et filii et Spiritus Sancti, qui te per Eliseum in aquam mitti iussit, ut sanaretur sterilitas aque qui diuina sua uoce dixit:  Vos estis sal terre, ad apostolos, ut omnes qui ex eo sumpserint sint sanati animis atque corporibus et ubicumque fuerit aspersus prestet omnibus remissionem peccatorum et sanitatem, in protectionem salutis ad expellandas et excludendas omnes demonum temptationes, in nomine Dei patris omnipotentis et Iesu Christi filii eius, qui uenturus est iudicaturus in Spiritu Sancto seculum per ignem.  Amen.
                waeter halgunc to ðon ilce  (Durham Collectar 645; see also exorcisms of water, and with salt, 651-53)
                Te ergo inuoco Domine sancte pater omnipotens aeterne Deus, ut hanc aquam exorcizare benedicere pro tua pietate digneris, ut omnis spiritus inmundus locum in ea ultra non habeat, sed uibcumque fuerit aspersa, angelorum tuorum descendat exercitus. Per….
                Benedictiones ad Omnia quae volueris (Durham Collectar 595-6)
Creator et conseruator humani generis, dator gratie spiritalis largitor aeterne salutis, tu Domine mitte spiritum tuum sanctum super hanc creaturam illam ut armata uirtute caelestis defentionis, qui ex ea gustauerint proficiat illis ad aeternam salutem.  Per…
Benedic Domine creaturam istam ut sit remedium salutare generi humano; presta per inuocationem nominis tui ut quicumque ex ea sumpserit corporis sanitatem et anime tutelam percipiat.  Per….

Scene 6:  Kitchen; herbwoman and exorcist.

Herbwoman bakes a loaf with each kind of flour, milk, and holy water (gotten from exorcist).  If this is placed in the furrow on Monday, bake on Sunday, or just hold it as stale bread?

Exorcist offers blessing of new bread:

Durham A.IV.19, addition #5, fol. 63v12-19; see also Leofric 2403 and 2408; and Durham Collectar 594
Benedic domine creaturam istam panis nouam sicut benedixisti quinque panes in deserto et duos pisces et .u. milia hominum satiasti ita benedicere digneris ut sit dominis eiusdem habundans in annum alimentum gustantes qui ex eo accipient tam corporis quam animæ sanitatem per to christe iesu qui regnas in sæcula sæculum.  Per….

Scene 7:  Church sanctuary; priest, deacon or subdeacon, exorcist, lector, acolyte, devout persons.

Perform Divine Offices of Vespers before dark, Compline before bed.

Act II:  Sod Ceremony (Sunday)

Overview of timing:  Before dawn to before sunset

  • January:  sunrise at 8:05 a.m. to sunset 4:05 p.m., twilight 30-40 minutes either side
  • April:  sunrise 5:45 a.m. to sunset 8:15 p.m.

Divine Office hours and masses for a Sunday (see Hughes, p. 18, fig. 1.6 and sections 115-116; and Salisbury, p. 9):

  • Nocturns (the night office, also called Vigils and later Matins) on the eve of the day
  • Lauds (or Matins) at dawn
  • Prime at the first hour of the day after sunrise
  • Morning Mass [in collegiate or monastic church: Chapter meeting followed by Chapter Mass]
  • [blessing of salt and water; see previous day of preparation.]
  • Terce
  • Principal or Sunday Mass
  • Sext, noon
  • Votive Mass [ferial masses after sext]
  • None
  • Votive Mass [fasting masses after none]
  • Vespers before dark
  • Compline at bedtime

Scene 1:  Outside fields; before dawn, between Nocturns and Lauds; andowner, bailiff, 2-4 lay male workers.

[nim þonne sods]:  Four men (together or separately?) go out to field and dig up four sods from four sides of the field, leave stone markers beside holes, and bring to church door west end.

Tools:  4 hoes, 4 stone markers, 4 baskets, 4 lanterns or torches.

Scene 2 :  Dawn, between Lauds and Prime, in front of west end of church; andowner, bailiff, 4 male workers, herbwoman, and 3+ clergyman (priest, deacon and exorcist?), others of the community, including children.

[nim þonne concoction]  Exorcist takes from herbwoman concoction made the day before.

[do þonne holy water] Exorcist adds holy water to the concoction to make a liquid.

[drype þonne ] drips it three times on the base of each sod (they are green side down).

[cweþe þonne words] Priest and deacon say antiphonally the bilingual formula while exorcist is dripping on each of the four sods, four times:

Priest:              Crescite.                         Deacon: wexe.

                        et multiplicamini.                          et gemænigfealda.

                        et replete.                                     et gefylle.

                        terre.                                           þas eorðan.

Together:  In nomine patris. et filii. et spiritus sancti. Sit benedicti.

At end, they say the Pater noster, the priest in Latin, and deacon and exorcist leading laypeople to say Old English Pater noster (I am using the 11th cen. West Saxon Gospels Matthew version; aloud, takes 38 seconds):

PATER NOSTER, qui es in caelis,

sanctificetur nomen tuum.

Adueniat regnum tuum.

Fiat uoluntas tua, sicut in caelo et in terra.

Panem nostrum quotidianum da nobis hodie,

et dimitte nobis debita nostra sicut [et]

nos dimittimus debitoribus nostris.

Et ne inducas nos in temtationem,

sed libera nos a malo. Amen.

Fæder ure þu þe eart on heofonum;

Si þin nama gehalgod

to becume þin rice

gewurþe ðin willa on eorðan swa swa on heofonum.

urne gedæghwamlican hlaf syle us todæg

and forgyf us ure gyltas swa swa

we forgyfað urum gyltendum

and ne gelæd þu us on costnunge

ac alys us of yfele soþlice.

Scene 3 :   After Prime, before Morning Mass; 4 male workers, led by the 3+ clergy.

[bere siþþan turf into church]  In procession, the four men carry the sods into the church, and place them on four sides of altar, with the green sides toward the altar [or are the sods on the altar during the masses said over them, then they are turned during or after the masses?].

Masspriest says four masses throughout day, attended by other clergy and laypersons:

  • Morning Mass (after Prime): full sung mass may take 45 min to 1 ½ hours
  • Principal or Sunday Mass (after Terce):  either of these two masses could be based on Rogation, Letania major (see Durham Collectar capitula 236-38); or could incorporate the Sunday blessings of salt and water.  See RGP CCXIV B. Benediccio aquae ad seges contra vermes, which has mass prayers.
  • Votive Mass (after Sext): shorter, perhaps 30 minutes.
  • Votive Mass (after None): same or different from previous?   Examples:
                Missa in Sterilitate Terrae (Leofric Missal 2066-68): 
Da nobis quesumus domine piê supplicationis effectum, et pestilentiam famemque propitiatus auerte, ut mortalium corda cognoscant, et te indignante talia flagella prodire, et miserante cessare. Per…
Secreta:  Deus qui humani generis utramque substantiam, presentium munerum et alimento uegetas et renouas sacramento, tribue quesumus ut eorum et corporibus nostris subsidium non desit et mentibus.  Per….
Ad Compendum:  Guberna quesumus domine et temporalibus adiumentis, quos dignaris aeternis informare mysteriis.  Per….
                Missa contra Obloquentes (Leofric Missal 2020-22):  against those who speak maliciously, seems to accord with OE formulas
Presta quesumus domine, ut mentium reproborum non curemus obloquium, sed eadem prauitate calcata exoramus, ut nec terreri nos lacerationibus patiaris iniustis, nec captiosis adulationibus implicari, sed potius amare quae precipis.
Secreta:  Oblatio domine tuis aspectibus immolanda, quesumus ut et nos ab omnibus uitiis pontenter absoluat, et a cunctis inimicis defendat.  Per dominum.
Ad Complendum:  Praesta domine quesumus ut per haec sancta quae sumpsimus, dissimulatis lacerationibus improborum, eadem te gubernante, quae recta sunt cautius exsequamur.  Per….
                Missa pro Fame ac Pestilentia, Missal of Robert of Jum., p. 269
Sempiternae pietatis tuae abundantiam domine supplices imploramus. ut nos beneficiis quibus non meremur anticiparis [anticipans] bene facere cgnoscaris indignis. per….
Secreta:  Deus qui humani generis utramque substantiam praesentium munerum et alimento uegetas. et renouas sacramento tribue quesumus ut eorum et corporibus nostris subsidium non desit et mentibus. per….
Ad Complendum:  Guberna quesumus domine temporalibus adiumentis. quos dignaris aeternis informare mysteriis. per dominum.

Scene 4 :  Afternoon, after fourth mass, at least one hour before sunset if this is to be completed before dark and vespers; clergy, and whole community.

Repeat at each of the four sides of the field.

[siþþan gebringe turf back to field]  Clergy take the already prepared quickbeam crosses (carried processionally, lifted up), process out to field with four male workers carrying the four sods, trailed by landowner and other residents.  Move to each of the four sides of the field in procession one at a time, to the stone marker previously placed, someone remove stone.

[cweðe ðonne] Deacon or lector puts cross in hole, says:  “Crux Mattheus, crux marcus, crux lucas, curx sanctus iohannus,” making sign of cross each time.

[nim ðonne turf] Each man at each of four stations puts his turf back in place over the cross.

[cweþe ðonne] Priest and deacon do the same antiphonal Crescite and Pater Noster as in scene 2 above, but nine times at each of the four stations (4 recalls the altar; 9 brings us into the secular fields).  By implication, the Crescite and the Pater noster are said nine times at each station, times four (so 36 times!).

Priest:              Crescite.                         Deacon: wexe.

                        et multiplicamini.                          et gemænigfealda.

                        et replete.                                     et gefylle.

                        terre.                                           þas eorðan.

Together:  In nomine patris. et filii. et spiritus sancti. Sit benedicti.

Pater noster, priest says Latin, deacon and exorcist lead laypeople to say Old English Pater noster:

PATER NOSTER, qui es in caelis,

sanctificetur nomen tuum.

Adueniat regnum tuum.

Fiat uoluntas tua, sicut in caelo et in terra.

Panem nostrum quotidianum da nobis hodie,

et dimitte nobis debita nostra sicut [et]

nos dimittimus debitoribus nostris.

Et ne inducas nos in temtationem,

sed libera nos a malo. Amen.

Fæder ure þu þe eart on heofonum;

Si þin nama gehalgod

to becume þin rice

gewurþe ðin willa on eorðan swa swa on heofonum.

urne gedæghwamlican hlaf syle us todæg

and forgyf us ure gyltas swa swa

we forgyfað urum gyltendum

and ne gelæd þu us on costnunge

ac alys us of yfele soþlice.

Scene 5 : Sunset, before or in place of Vespers; either on edge of fields, back near the church, setting sun behind them, church in front of them, or even inside the church;  clergy primarily, with any lay members attending.

[wende þe þonne eastward]  Clergyperson (exorcist as performer of cleansing rituals?) turns self eastward, toward church or altar, bows nine times humbly.

[cweð þonne words] Exorcist says:

Eastweard Ic stande                             arena ic me bidde

bidde ic þone mæran .domine.             bidde ðone miclan drihten

bidde Ic ðone haligan                           heofonrices weard .

eorðan ic bidde                                        and upheofon

and ða soþan                                       sancta Marian .

and heofones meaht .                           and heahreced

þæt ic mote þis gealdor                        mid gife drihtnes

toðum on tynan                                   þurh trumne geþanc

aweccan þas wæstmas                          us to woruldnytte

gefylle þas foldan                                 mid fæste geleafan

wlitigigan þas wancgturf                      swa se witega cwæð .

þæt se hæfde are on eorþrice                se þe ælmyssan

dælde domlice                                      drihtnes þances .

[wende þe þonne sunwards] Exorcist turns self three times sunwards.

[astrece þonne on ground] Exorcist stretches out on ground, head toward east, and enumerates litanies, with other clergy echoing

NB:  Letanias is ambiguous, whether it means a litany of saints, or a shorter form, or even psalm verses or suffrages of some kind.  It might also be a reference to the Litaniae maiores or minores days (see J. Hill on the conflation of these two in Anglo-Saxon England, such that Litania maiores refers not to the April 25 event but to the three Rogation days prior to Ascension more commonly refered to as Litania minores).

Here I have used a litany of the saints based on Ælfwine’s Prayerbook 75, or see a modern one:

Kyrie, eleison                                         (Kyrie, eleison.)
Christe, eleison                                     (Christe, eleison.)
Kyrie, eleison                                         (Kyrie, eleison.)
Christe, audi nos                                 (Christe, audi nos.)
Christe, exaudi nos.                             (Christe, exaudi nos.)
Pater de celis, Deus,                              (miserere nobis.)
Filius, Redemptor mundi, Deus,      (miserere nobis.)
Spiritus Sanctus, Deus,                         (miserere nobis.)
Sancta Trinitas, unus Deus,                (miserere nobis.)
Sancta Maria,                                           (ora pro nobis)
Sancta Maria, intercede pro me misero/a peccatori/trici.
Sancta Maria, adiuua me in die exitus mei ex hac presenti uita.
Sancta Maria, adiuua me in die tribulationis meae.
Sancta Dei Genetrix,                               (ora pro nobis…)
Sancta Virgo virginum,
Sancte Michael,                                      (ora pro nobis…)
Sancte Gabriel,
Sancte Raphael,
Omnes sancti Angeli et Archangeli,    (orate…)
Omnes sancti throni
Omnes sancti dominationes
Omnes sancti principatus
Omnes sanct potestates
Omnis sancti uirtutes
Sancta Cherubin
Sancta Seraphin
Omnis sancti patriarche et prophete
Sancte Ioannes Baptista,                   (ora pro nobis…)
Sancte Petre,
Sancte Paule,
Sancte Andrea,
Sancte Ioannes,
Sancte Iacobe,
Sancte Philippe,
Sancte Bartolomaee,
Sancte Iacobe,
Sancte Matthaee,
Sancte Thoma,
Sancte Simon,
Sancte Iuda
Sancte Mathia,
Sancte Marce,
Sancte Luca,
Sancte Barnaba,
Omnes sancti apostoli,                (orate pro me indigno/a famulo/a Dei, ut scut doctrina uestra tenebras mundi inluminastis, ita ‘ intercessione uestra iniquitates meas emundetis.)
Omnes sancti Apostoli et Evangelistae,      (orate)
Omnes sancti discipuli Domini,                  (orate pro nobis)
Omnes sancti Innocentes,                             (orate)
Sancte Stephane,                                              (ora…)
Sancte Dionisi cum sociis tuis,
Sancte Line
Sancte Clete
Sancte Clemens
Sancte Xixte
Sancte Cornelii
Sancte Cypriane
Sancte Laurenti
Sancte Ypolite
Sancte Vincenti
Sancte Geruasi
Sancte Prothasi
Sancte Sebastiane
Sancte Maurici cum sociis tuis
Sancte Iohannes
Sancte Paule
Sancte Crisante
Sancte Oswalde
Sancte Eadmunde
Sancte Kenelme
Sancte Albane
Sancte Iuste
Sancte Eadwerde
Sancte Ælfheage
Omnes sancti martyres, subuenite mihi in omni tribulatione, qui per tribulationem martyrii perpetua liberati estis miseria.
Sancte Benedicte,
Sancte Iudoce
Sante Martine
Sancte Hilarii
Sancte Sylvester,
Sancte Gregori,
Sancte Ambrosi,
Sancte Augustine,
Sancte Hieronyme,
Sancte Ambrosi
Sancte Grimbalde
Sancte Agustine
Sancte Cuthberhte
Sancte Birine
Sancte Swiðune
Sancte Remigi
Sancte Germane
Sancte Vedaste
Sancte Amande
Sancte Maure
Sancte Placide
Sancte Antoni
Sancte Machari
Sancte Arseni
Sancte Basili
Omnes sancti confessores, orate pro me indigno peccatori ad Domnum Deum nostrum, ut in confessione eius nominis, dum dies extrema uernerit, merear decedere, qui reum confitendo ianuas/paradysi meruistis introire.
Omnes sancti confessores          (orate pro nobis)
Sancta Felicitas                              (ora…)
Sancta Perpetua
Sancta Maria Magdalene
Sancta Sholastica
Sancta Agathes
Sancta Agnes
Sancta Cecilia
Sancta Lucia
Sancta Anastasia
Sancta Eugenia
Sancta Eulalia
Sancta Iuliana
Sancta Tecla
Sancta Petronella
Sancta Æþeldriða
Sancta Daria
Sancta Eadburh
Sancta Ælfgyfuu
Omnes sanctae Virgines, orate pro me indigno/a famulo/a Dei, ut ab omni merear liberari immunditia delictorum, que perpetua uirginate cum sponso uestro, Domino nostro Iesu Christo, regna possidetis celorum.
Omnes sancte uirgines             (orate)
Onmes sancte uidue                 (orate)
Omnes sancti continentes        (orate)
Sancti Dei, omnes orate pro nobis, ut fugere mereamur a uentura ira.
Omens sancti,                            (orate pro nobis)
Omens sancti,                            (orate pro nobis)
Propitius esto,                            (parce nos, Domine.)
Ab omni malo,                            (libera nos, Domine…)
Ab insidiis diaboli,
A peste superbie
A carnalibus desideriis
A peste et fame et clade
Ab omnibus immunditiis mentis et corporis
A persecutione paganorum et omnium inimicorum nostrorum insidiis
Ab ira et odio et omni malo uoluntate
A uentura ira
A subita et eterna morte
Per crucem et passionem tuam,
Per sanctam resurrectionem tuam,
Per gloriosam ascensionem tuam
Per gratiam sancti Spiritus paracliti
In die iudicii,
Peccatores,                                                    (Te rogamus, audi nos…)
Vt pacem et concordiam nobis dones
Vt sanctam aecclesiam tuam catholicam regere et defensare digneris
Vt domum apostolicum et omnes gradus ecclesiae custordire et conseruare digneris
Vt regi nostro et principibus nostris pacem et uicoriam nobis dones
Vt episcopum et abbatem nostrum et omnem congreationem sibi commissam in sancta religione conseruare digneris
Vt cunctum populum Christianum pretioso sanguine tuo redemptum conseruare digneris
Vt locum istum et omnes habitatnes in eo uistiare et consolare digneris
Vt nos hodie sine peccato custodias
Vt angelum tuum sanctum a[d] tutelam nobis mittere digneris
Vt dies et actus nostros in tua uoluntate disponsas,
Vt remissionem omnium peccatorum nostrorum nobis donare digneris
Vt nobis miseris misericors misereri digneris
Vt congregationem nostram in sancta religione conseruare dingeris
Vt omnibus benefactoribus nostris sempiterna bona retribuas,
Vt flagella que pro peccatis nostris patimur te miserante a nobis auertas
Vt in die obitus nostri spiritum nostrum suscipeas, Domine Iesu
Vt per merita et intercessiones omnium sanctorum tuorum in die iudicii in dextera tua nos collocare digneris, Domine Iesu
Vt peccatis nostris cotidianis cotidie misereraris, Domen Iesu
Vt omnis qui se nostris commendauerunt orationibus conseruare digneris
Vt omnibus qui in nostris recepti sunt orationibus, tam uiuis quam et defunctis uitam aeternam donare dignieris, Domine Iesu
Vt cunctis fidleibus defunctis requiem aeternam donare digneris
Vt nos exaudire digneris
Fili Dei,                                                              (te rogamus, audi nos)
Fili Dei,                                                             (te rogamus, audi nos)
Agnus Dei, qui tollis peccata mundi,     (miserere nobis)
Agnus Dei, qui tollis peccata mundi,       (exaudi nos, Domine.)
Agnus Dei, qui tollis peccata mundi,       (dona nobis pacem.)
Christe,                                                            (audi nos.)
Christe,                                                            (audi nos.)
Kyrie, eleison.                                               (Kyrie, eleison.)
Christe, eleison.                                           (Christe, eleison.)
Kyrie, eleison.                                                (Kyrie, eleison.)

[cweð þonne Tersanctus]  Exorcist, now standing?, says (with other clergy?):

Sanctus, Sanctus, Sanctus
Dominus Deus Sabaoth.
Pleni sunt cæli et terra gloria tua.
Hosanna in excelsis.
Benedictus qui venit in nomine Domini.
Hosanna in excelsis.

[sing þonne Benedicite, Magnificat, Pater noster] Exorcist with outstretched arms sings (with other clergy):

BENEDICITE, omnia opera Domini, Domino; laudate et superexaltate eum in saecula.
BENEDICITE, caeli, Domino, benedicite, angeli Domini, Domino.
BENEDICITE, aquae omnes, quae super caelos sunt, Domino, benedicat omnis virtutis Domino.
BENEDICITE, sol et luna, Domino, benedicite, stellae caeli, Domino.
BENEDICITE, omnis imber et ros, Domino, benedicite, omnes venti, Domino.
BENEDICITE, ignis et aestus, Domino, benedicite, frigus et aestus, Domino.
BENEDICITE, rores et pruina, Domino, benedicite, gelu et frigus, Domino.
BENEDICITE, glacies et nives, Domino, benedicite, noctes et dies, Domino.
BENEDICITE, lux et tenebrae, Domino, benedicite, fulgura et nubes, Domino.
BENEDICAT terra Dominum: laudet et superexaltet eum in saecula.
BENEDICITE, montes et colles, Domino, benedicite, universa germinantia in terra, Domino.
BENEDICITE, maria et flumina, Domino, benedicite, fontes, Domino.
BENEDICITE, cete, et omnia, quae moventur in aquis, Domino, benedicite, omnes volucres caeli, Domino.
BENEDICITE, omnes bestiae et pecora, Domino, benedicite, filii hominum, Domino.
BENEDIC, Israel, Domino, laudate et superexaltate eum in saecula.
BENEDICITE, sacerdotes Domini, Domino, benedicite, servi Domini, Domino.
BENEDICITE, spiritus et animae iustorum, Domino, benedicite, sancti et humiles corde, Domino.
BENEDICITE, Anania, Azaria, Misael, Domino, laudate et superexaltate eum in saecula.
BENEDICAMUS Patrem et Filium cum Sancto Spiritu; laudemus et superexaltemus eum in saecula.
BENEDICTUS es in firmamento caeli et laudabilis et gloriosus in saecula.
MAGNIFICAT anima mea Dominum;
    Et exsultavit spiritus meus in Deo salutari meo,
    Quia respexit humilitatem ancillae suae; ecce enim ex hoc beatam me dicent omnes generationes.
    Quia fecit mihi magna qui potens est, et sanctum nomen ejus,
    Et misericordia ejus a progenie in progenies timentibus eum.
    Fecit potentiam in brachio suo;
    Dispersit superbos mente cordis sui.
    Deposuit potentes de sede, et exaltavit humiles.
    Esurientes implevit bonis, et divites dimisit inanes.
    Suscepit Israel, puerum suum, recordatus misericordiae suae,
    Sicut locutus est ad patres nostros, Abraham et semini ejus in saecula.
    Gloria Patri, et Filio, et Spiritui Sancto,: sicut erat in principio,
    Et nunc, et semper: et in Saecula saeculorum. Amen.
PATER NOSTER, qui es in caelis,  
sanctificetur nomen tuum.
Adueniat regnum tuum.
Fiat uoluntas tua, sicut in caelo et in terra.
Panem nostrum quotidianum  da nobis hodie,
et dimitte nobis debita nostra sicut [et]
nos dimittimus debitoribus nostris.
Et ne inducas nos in temtationem,
sed libera nos a malo. Amen.          
Pater noster thrice, Latin only

Scene 6 : Clergy at church doors, facing fields, landowner and community.

[bebeod closing prayer for congregation]  Priest, commend to:  Christ and Mary, cross, for praise and worship, and for benefit of owner and those serving under him.  Three possible analogues:

  1.  A votive office.  For example: Ælfwine’s Prayerbook, items 49-51, 3 special offices for the Trinity, the Cross, and Mary (preceded by this lovely “Quinity” illustration).



“Quinity” Ælfwine’s Prayerbook, fol. 75v


2.  Capitella for Vespers.  For example:

      Durham A.IV.19 additions, #38, fols 80va23-82ra5 (see Tolhurst, vol. 6, p. 29)
[e] pro omni populo cristiano. saluum fac populum tuum domine et bendic hereditae tuæ. et rege eos et extolle illos usqe in æternum. [Ps. 27:9]

3.  Commendations or suffrages.  For example:

Durham A.IV.19 additions, #2, fols. 62r5ff (Scribe C); see also Leofric Missal, 68-90, cotidianis diebus.
Ab omni malo defendat uos dominus.                                          Amen
A cunctis malis inminentibus liberet nos dominus.                    “
A morte secunda eripiat nos dominus.
Diuina maiestas nost tueatur
Deus dei filius nos benedicere dignetur
Diuina gratia nos benedicat
De sede sancta sua aspiciat nos dominus.
Cretor omnium nos benedicat
Benedixionibus suis repleat nos dominus
Custos omnium custodiat nos christus
Ipse nos benedicat qui nos creauit
Protegat seruos suos omnipotens dominus
Spiritus sanctus nostra inlustrare dignetur corde
Trinitas sancta nos benedicat
Spritus sanctus aperiat nobis sensu cordis
Saluet et benedicat nos omnipotens dominus
In suo sancto seruitio conseruet nos domnus
In sancta religione conseruet nos dominus
Deus miseriatur nostri et benedicat nobis
[post nocturns]
Intercendente pro nobis sanctae dei genetrixcae maria auxiliætur nobis omnipotens dominus. amen.
Per intercessionem sancta dei genetricis maria in suo sancto seruitio confortet nos dominus. amen.
Rex regum et dominus dominantium da pacem in diebus nostris omnipotens dominus amen.
Deus omnipotens sancta trinitas miseriatur nostri qui uiuit in secula seculorum. . amen.

Act III:  Plough Ceremony (Monday)

Scene 1:  Dawn; at church door; landowner and baillif, clergypersons, and 2+ almspersons.

Landowner:  “My brother and sister, please give me the last of your grain.”

Almsman 1:  “My lord, what shall we eat?  We have no land where we can plant our seeds, we must eat them.” Shows small sack of grain, half empty.

Landowner:  “Here is double for what you gave, seed grain from our stores.” Shows sack full of grain.

Almswoman 2: “Bless you.  May your land be productive and suffer no evil.”  They exchange sacks.

Clergyperson offers blessing of almsmen and of seed:

                Capitella for Vespers, Durham A.IV.19 additions #3,8 fols. 80va23-82ra5 (see Tolhurst, vol. 6, p. 29 for discussion)
[m] Pro elemoisinas nobis facientibus in hoc mundo. Dispersit dedit pauperibus. et iustitia eius maet in dæculum sæculi. cor’ eius. [Ps. 111/112:9]
                 Durham Collectar 643 waeter halgunc to ðon ilce
Domine Iesu Christe te supplices oramus ut mittere digneris Spiritum Sanctum tuum et benedictionem tuam cum sancto angelo tuo super creaturam salis et aquae; defendat Deus segetes nostras uel seruos nostros et omnes fructus a uermibus a uolatilibus a demonibus et ab omnibus malis, ut magnifectur nomen tuum Deus in omni loco.  Per Dominum.
                Benedictio Seminis, Missal of Robert of Jum., p. 282 (see also Rivard, p. 57; RGP CCXIII-IV; Franz 1:10).
Omnipotens sempiterne deus. creator generis humani suppliciter tuam clementiam exoramus. ut hoc semen quod in tuo nomine serimus in agros nostros caelistia (sic) benedictione benedicere et multiplicare digneris atque ad maturitatem perducas. ut per universum orbem terrarum conlaudetur dextera tua. per dominum nostrum.

Scene 2:   Full daylight; at field corner where ploughing begins; ploughman; clergypersons, including exorcist with concoction, herbwoman with bread, and audience of owner, workers, their families.

[borige þonne] Ploughman (bailiff?) bores hole in beam, presumably on the plough (or this was done in advance).  Exorcist gives him concoction, he scoops out the contents with knife, smears into hole.  returns jar to clergy person.  [Alternatively, the incense mixture is used to bore the hole, perhaps by burning].

[nim þonne] Landowner takes seed given to him by beggars, puts it on the body of the plough.  Is it stuck to or jammend in with the incense concoction, or does this plough have a automatic dispenser for seed built in?  Overall, this is probably all symbolic sowing, rather than an actual start of ploughing and sowing.

[cweð þonne] Exorcist says:

.Erce. Erce. Erce.                                eorþan modor

geunne þe se alwalda                           ece drihten

æcera wexendra                                   and wridendra

eacniendra                                           and elniendra

sceafta hen se [hehra]                           scire [scirra] wæstma.

and þære[/a] bradan                             berewæstma.

and þæra hwitan                                  hwætewæstma.

and ealra                                              eorþan wæstma.

geunne him                                          ece drihten

and his halige                                       þe on [h]eofonum synt

þæt hys yrþ si gefriþod                         wið ealra feonda gehwæne

and heo si geborgen                             wið ealra bealwa gehwylc

þara lyblaca                                          geond land sawen.

Nu ic bidde ðone waldend                   se ðe ðas wor[u]d gesceop

þæt ne sy nan to þæs cwidol wif           ne to þæs cræftig man

þæt awendan ne mæge                         word þus gecwedene

[cweþe þonne] Clergypersons (priest and deacon) then say [I have taken the liberty of inserting the three times the Crescite is specified to after each of the three Old English formula.]

Priest:              Crescite.                         Deacon: wexe.

                        et multiplicamini.                          et gemænigfealda.

                        et replete.                                     et gefylle.

                        terre.                                           þas eorðan.

Together:  In nomine patris. et filii. et spiritus sancti. Sit benedicti. Amen

[þonne] When ploughman drives plough forward (with or without oxen?), then [cweð þonne] Exorcist says:

Hal wes þu folde                                  fira modor

beo þu growende                                 on godes fæþme

fodre gefylled                                       firum to nytte.

[cweþe þonne] Clergypersons (priest and deacon) then say:

Priest:              Crescite.                         Deacon: wexe.

                        et multiplicamini.                          et gemænigfealda.

                        et replete.                                     et gefylle.

                        terre.                                           þas eorðan.

Together:  In nomine patris. et filii. et spiritus sancti. Sit benedicti. Amen

[nim þonne] Herbwoman puts her breadloaf into the furrow.

[cweþe þonne]  Exorcist then says:

Ful æcer fodres                                    fira cinne

beorhtblowende                                   þu gebletsod weorþ

þæs haligan noman                               þe ðas heofon gesceop

and ðas eorþan                                     þe we on lifiaþ

se god se þas grundas geworhte           geunne us growende gife

þaet us corna gehwylc                          cume to nytte.

[cweþe þonne] Clergypersons (priest and deacon) then say:

Priest:              Crescite.                         Deacon: wexe.

                        et multiplicamini.                          et gemænigfealda.

                        et replete.                                     et gefylle.

                        terre.                                           þas eorðan.

Together:  In nomine patris. et filii. et spiritus sancti. Sit benedicti. Amen

Priest says Latin, deacon and exorcist lead laypeople to say OE Pater noster three times, perhaps as they process around the field:

PATER NOSTER, qui es in caelis,

sanctificetur nomen tuum.

Adueniat regnum tuum.

Fiat uoluntas tua, sicut in caelo et in terra.

Panem nostrum quotidianum da nobis hodie,

et dimitte nobis debita nostra sicut [et]

nos dimittimus debitoribus nostris.

Et ne inducas nos in temtationem,

sed libera nos a malo. Amen.

Fæder ure þu þe eart on heofonum;

Si þin nama gehalgod

to becume þin rice

gewurþe ðin willa on eorðan swa swa on heofonum.

urne gedæghwamlican hlaf syle us todæg

and forgyf us ure gyltas swa swa

we forgyfað urum gyltendum

and ne gelæd þu us on costnunge

ac alys us of yfele soþlice.


The End


Ælfwine’s Prayerbook (London: British Library, Cotton Tius D.xxvi + xxvii). Ed. Beate Günzel.  Henry Bradshaw Society 108. London: Boydell, 1993.  Cited by item number.

Durham Cathedral Library A.IV.19:

  • Corrêa, Alicia, ed. Durham Collectar. Henry Bradshaw Society 107. London:  Boydell Press, 1992. Original Scribe, Latin text only.  Cited by item number.
  • Jolly, Karen.  The Community of St. Cuthbert in the Late Tenth Century: The Chester-le-Street Additions to Durham Cathedral Library A.IV.19. The Ohio State University Press, 2012. Cited by item number and folios.

Franz, Adolph, ed. Die kirchlichen benediktionem des Mittelalter. 2 Vols. Freiberg im Breisgau: M. Herder, 1909; reprint, Graz: Akademische Druck-Verlagsanstalt, 1961.

Hill, Joyce. “The Litaniae Maiores and Minores in Rome, Francia and Anglo-Saxon England: Terminology, Texts and Traditions,” Early Medieval Europe 9 (2000): 211–46.

Hughes, Andrew, Medieval Manuscripts for Mass and Office:  A Guide to their Organization and Terminology. Toronto:  University of Toronto Press, 1982.

Leofric Missal. Ed. Nicholas Orchard. 2 Vols. Henry Bradshaw Society 113-114.  London:  Boydell, 2002).  Cited by item number in volume 2.

Missal of Robert of Jumièges.  Ed. H. A. Wilson.  Henry Bradshaw Society 11. London:  Boydell, 1896; repr. 1994.

Rivard, Derek A. Blessing the World: Ritual and Lay Piety in Medieval Religion. Washington, D.C.: The Catholic University of America Press, 2009.

Salisbury, Matthew Cheung, ed. Medieval Latin Liturgy in English Translation.  Kalamazoo:  TEAMS, 2017.

Tolhurst, J. B. L. The Monastic Breviary of Hyde Abbey, Winchester. 6 Vols. Henry Bradshaw Society 69–71, 76, 78, 80. London: Harrison and Sons, 1932–42. Citations to Volume 6 (HBS 80), London, 1942.

Vogel, Cyrille, R. Elze, and Michel Andrieu. Le pontifical romano-germanique du dixieme siecle. 3 Vols. Studi e Testi 226, 227, 269. Vatican City, 1963–72. [RGP]

Posted by: kljolly | May 16, 2018

Æcerbot V: Materials

What materials does the field remedy specify or imply with its instructions?

  • A field that is problematic:  unproductive, perhaps cursed, or infested with weeds or vermin.  It presumably had been in use but is now to be remediated; perhaps it will be left fallow to recover after this ceremony.  This would be an open field that normally is ploughed in strips for a sown grain crop like wheat, oats, rye, or barley.
  • The script (the manuscript).  Someone needs to have this booklet in hand to direct the actions, prompt the known Latin formulas, and read aloud the Old English formulas.
  • Shovel, hoe, or trowel for cutting sods from four sides of the field.  The implement would determine the size and shape of the sod.  This is presumably a time of year when green plants are growing either in the field or around the bounds of the field.   If the sod is taken from within the field, the green plant growth could be the problematic crop or weeds.  If taken from the margin around the field, then the sod is whatever grasses grow on that path?
  • Lanterns or torches when cutting the sod.  It is before dawn, and the need for markers suggests limited visibility.  On the other hand, it could be in that pre-dawn twilight.
  • Markers where sods taken from:  stones?  Implies that the site would otherwise be difficult to find again, that the terrain is uneven with other holes, or that the sods removed are not sizable.
  • Basket, wheelbarrow, or other transport for the four sods.  Even if just a trowel-ful each, it would be awkward for one person to carry all four, plus a trowel and a light.  More than likely, at least two people, if not four, one for each sod, would retrieve and return them, but they still might want to put the sods in something easy to carry, especially if it is a shovel-ful.
  • Products of the land used on the sods:  oil, honey, yeast, milk from each animal, tree bits except hardwood, plants except glappan.
    • Milk from each animal:  cow, sheep, goat.  It must be milking season, not winter.
    • No hardwood tree bits:  hardwood trees, like oak and beech, are not agricultural (Niles suggests), so only trees that are planted and harvested as crops are used in this agricultural remedy.
    • Among plants, no glappan:  no definite translation.  The word occurs only twice in the corpus of OE, here and another one-off remedy in a non-medical mss (an eye remedy in Cotton Faustina A.X, fols. 115v-116r). DOE translates tentatively as bogbean or buckbean (Menyanthes trifoliata).

      Storms, noting difficulty of translation, renders as burdock (arctium lappa), with burrs being the objectionable part.  However, there are other words for burdock in medical mss and herbals (clate, clife, cliþe).  That glappa- occurs in place names with –feld in various charters suggests a plant that grows in fields or wild (so perhaps a fallow field?).  I like burdock for the annoying burrs, but can’t justify the translation.

  • Holy water.  Normally hallowed for the week on Sundays.  See other hallowed items below:  salt, soap.
  • Quickbeam to make crosses, probably in advance of ceremony.
    • Niles suggests aspen or rowan, while DOE suggests mountain-ash or wild service.
    • Bierbaumer identifies as mountain ash (sorbus aucuparia):  NHM sorbus aucuparia is rowan.

    • “Northern mythology” (this is a tertiary site) associates rowan with protection from witchcraft; and it is used for rune staves.
    • Lacnunga XXXI (fols. 138v-140v), which has other similarities to the field remedy, specifies a quickbeam stirring stick.  Pettit then links this quickbeam stick to Lacnunga LXIII (fols. 146v-150v), a holy salve also with similarities to the field remedy.  It describes a  stick for stirring butter (no wood specified) that has four prongs on which are written the four evangelists’ names.  Lacnunga is found in London, British Library Harley 585  or see Pettit’s excellent edition and translation.
  • Knife for carving the quickbeam cross to write the names of the four evangelists on each.  Initially I took “write” to mean with ink, but since this is more or less a rune stick cross, carving seems more likely.
  • Unknown seed from almsmen:  whether a handful or a sackful is unclear. The amount placed on the plough seems small, but maybe only a handful is drawn from the sack of seed received from the almsmen.  Some suggest that unknown seed will diversify the field and lead to its recovery.
  • Seed to give almsmen:  twice the amount taken, so it must be a meaningful amount for the poor recipient (to eat or plant?).
  • Plough, driven by oxen or other traction animal? Perhaps this is more a human-driven harrow-type device, but the language used suggests a full plough (sulhgeteogo, sules bodig, sulh at fols. 177v5, 9, and 178r5).  If this is just a ceremonial endeavor, perhaps the animals are not hitched up to it yet.
  • Mixture of incense, fennel, hallowed soap, hallowed salt, in some kind of jar.  All are dry ingredients except “sape.”  Except for fennel, all are items that would be used in church.
    • fennel:  OE finol; Lat. foenuculum.  Pollington (pp. 118-20) says it is used to settle stomach, as a purgative, and in gripe waters; and that seeds may have been sprinkled on bread for flavoring.  It has supernatural properties in the 9 Herbs Charm.
    • sape = “soap:”  Pollington, (p. 177) refers to marrow soap as a replacement for tallow.  Marrow (mearh) is a substitute for grease, and is jelly-like.  It also occurs in Lacnunga XXXI.
    • salt: preservative; purifies; hallowed for church rituals.
    • incense stor:  storax.
  • Loaf of bread made from different kinds of flour.   Either winter sown wheat and rye and/or spring sown barley and oat, milk, and holy water.  No yeast? This might be a flat bread.  No one is going to eat it, except perhaps birds and other vermin.

Needless to say, gathering and preparing all of these materials would take some advance preparation.  However, also noteworthy is that all are presumed to be materials found on a typical Anglo-Saxon farm.


  • Bierbaumer, Peter.  Der botanische Wortschatz des Altenglischen.  3 volumes.  Bern:  Herbert Lang, 1975.
  • Cockayne, Thomas Oswald.  Leechdoms, Wortcunning and Starcraft of Early England.  3 Volumes.  Revised Edition, London:  Holland Press, 1961. Original 1864-66 (pagination different).
  • DOE = Dictionary of Old English: A to G (2008), or see Bosworth and Toller online.
  • Grattan, J. H. G. and Charles Singer.  Anglo-Saxon Magic and Medicine.  London:  Oxford University Press, 1952.
  • Niles, John D. “The Æcerbot Ritual in Context.” In Old English Literature in Context: Ten Essays, edited by John D. Niles, pp. 44–56, 163–64. Totowa, NJ: Rowman and Littlefield, 1980.
  • Pettit, Edward.  Anglo-Saxon Remedies, Charms, and Prayers from British Library MS Harley 585:  The Lacnunga.  2 Volumes.  Lewiston:  Edwin Mellen Press, 2001.
  • Pollington, Stephen.  Leechcraft:  Early English Charms, Plant Lore, and Healing.  Trowbridge:  Anglo-Saxon Books, 2000.
  • Storms, Godfrid.  Anglo-Saxon Magic.  Halle: Nijhoff, 1948.
Posted by: kljolly | May 1, 2018

Æcerbot Ritual IV: People

In theory, one person could perform everything specified in the field remedy.  That person would need to be a priest in order to say the four masses, as well as have the clerical literacy to know the Latin formulas specified.  That priest could do everything:  collect the sods, prepare the required materials, bake the bread, and drive the plough, as well as perform the masses and prayers.  In theory.

In practice, the field remedy’s instructions imply several persons involved in the proceedings, particularly evident in the verbal commands.  So first some parsing, for those who want it.  Otherwise, skip down to the cast of characters.

Or for your amusement, listen to Michael Drout reading the field remedy aloud (although not the full texts of the litanies and prayers specified, or it would be a lot longer than six minutes!).


*Most of the instructions in the field remedy are in the singular imperative, implying a second person recipient of the command.

  • While weak verb single imperatives end in –e or –a (drype, gemearca), strong verb single imperatives have no ending (nim, cweð).  But the field remedy has a number of strong verbs with an –e ending: bere, awrite, and most frequently, cweþe. In strong verbs, an –e ending could indicated 1st person singular present, 2nd person preterite, or subjunctive singular. However, it can indicate imperative when a subject pronoun follows, although that is not the case here.  For now, I am reading most of these as imperative, with a question mark as to why, for example, the scribe switches from using cweþe to cweð at 176v19, at 177r16, and after, until reverting to cweþe at fol. 178r14 and back to cweð at line 21.  If cweþe was taken as subjunctive, it introduces some uncertainty into the proceedings (“then you might say these words…”) at odds with the overall tone of instruction and the assertive nature of the formulas themselves.
  • The imperative does not require that the reader/hearer carry out the actions themselves, since they could order others to do the actual manual labor.  For example, the initial instructions to cut, mark, and carry sods to the church could be done by field workers.

*A few of the instructions are specifically addressed to a second person singular, ðu.

  • The opening says it is a remedy for how “you” might better “your” fields (fol. 176r1-2), a common phrasing for setting up a remedy in a medical text prior to copying the actual instructions.  The subsequent imperative commands might be addressed to that landowner to perform the actions and words specified, but that person would of necessity have to be Latin literate, therefore a cleric.  Plus, at the end of the sod portion, the remedy tangentially refers in the third person to a landowner and those under him (fol. 177r21-22), whose benefit the speaker is addressing.  More than likely, then, the opening “you” is addressed generically to whoever is reading or hearing this, and the subsequent recipient of the imperatives is the literate clergy who have a dominant speaking role.
  • The sod ceremony also twice uses the second person pronoun to describe the action of turning eastward and then sunward.  These instructions to turn yourself around (wende þe) frame the opening and closing of the Old English formula, itself spoken in the first person (ic).

*In a number of key places, the imperative mode of address changes briefly to introduce third parties using a passive structure with man (Old English has no passive voice, except for hatte).

  • Early on in the sod ceremony (fol. 176v3-4), the remedy specifies that a masspriest sing four masses (mæssepreost asinge feower mæssan) and that a man (generic person) is supposed to turn (wende) the sods green side to the altar and take (gebringe) the sods back to the field.  This seems to be two different third parties, a masspriest and at least one other person. Presumably, this latter generic person then makes the quickbeam crosses in the next sentence, since it says to have him construct (hæbbe him gæworht).
  • But the subsequent instruction to awrite the names of the evangelists on the four ends of the cross is not, like geworht, in the preterite and therefore not referring back to hæbbe him. Instead, if read as another strong verb imperative ending in –e, it suggests we are back in the second person singular, followed by the instruction to lay (lege) the crosses in the sod hole and to say (cweðe) certain words.

*The plough blessing (starting at fol. 177v1-2 with the “when…then” transition) alternates between the active imperative “you” and the passive 3rd party.

  • At the outset, the passive command is for the anonymous third party to exchange seed with almsmen, and continues with having presumably this same person gather his plough gear and bore a hole in the beam (a verb may be missing here, about putting the listed ingredients in the hole).
  •  The next instructions revert back to the singular active imperative to take (nim) the seed, set (sete) it on the plough, and say (cweð) the Erce formula (which itself uses the imperative and ic to command).  When the plough is driven forth to cut the first furrow, it is the third person passive “man” who does so (þonne man þa sulh forð drife, ond þa forman furh onsceote), but the OE words of the formula spoken over these proceedings are ordered with the imperative cweþ.
  •  The alternation continues, with the imperative to take (nim) each kind of milk, but have a person bake (abacæ man) a loaf of bread with it.  Presumably this same baker did the kneading (gecned) to incorporate the milk and holy water.  But we are clearly back to the active imperative with the instruction to lay (lecge) the loaf in the furrow and then say (cweþe) the Old English formula and cweð the closing Latin prayers.

So at the very least, we have three persons needed to carry out the instructions:  the main speaker who follows the active singular imperative commands, a masspriest to perform four masses over the sods, and an unspecified third person carrying out the manual labor with the sods, the cross construction, the plough, and the bread making.  This third person could be several different people, male or female: a fieldhand, a woodcarver, a ploughman, a bread baker, and others in the community helping with the gathering of materials.  Then, of course, we also have the references to the unspecified number of almsmen, the landowner, and those under him.

Since the field remedy instructions may be shifting modes of address without a clear agenda, the remedy probably does not require a particular number of people, just those who could carry out the jobs specified.  It could very well be that some of these roles overlap:  the speaker might be the priest, the sod carriers might be the ploughman, or, in theory, one person could do it all.

But it seems more likely that the community would want as many people involved and participating as possible, along the same principle as the remedy’s specification for plant, tree, and animal products from throughout the property.   What follows is a cast of characters for the script, if you wanted to involve as many as possible.


London, British Library, Cotton Julius A.VI, fol. 3r

Cast of Characters

[verbs in italics imperative; bold passive; * -e ending strong verb]

Sod Ceremony:

§Landowner and those under him

  • 1-4 [male?] fieldworkers to take the sods before dawn and mark the locations; carry* them into the church, turn the sods green side to the altar, and return them to the fields before sunset; lay crosses in four sod holes; set sods in the holes on top of crosses.
  •  1+ [female?] community members to take oil, honey, yeast, milk of each animal, tree and plant bits, to bring to sod ceremony outside church.
  • A woodcarver to have made four quickbeam crosses.

§1-3 Clerical person(s):

  • Take hallowed water, salt, and “sape” to add to the mixture, and to drip it on the sods.
  • At least one masspriest to sing four masses.
  • Write/carve* the evangelists’ names on the four crosses.
  • Say* bilingual Crescite formula and Pater noster over the four sods outside the church, perhaps antiphonally, and leading laypersons in the Pater noster.
  • Say* over crosses in holes: Crux formula
  • Say* over turf replaced in hole:  9xs Crescite formula and PN.
  • Turn yourself eastward, bow 9xs, say Eastward formula.
  • Turn yourself 3xs, stretch out, recite litany, say sanctus, sing Benedicite, Magnificat; Pater noster 3xs, commend land.

Plough Ceremony:

§1-3 (lay) workers

  •  A person of authority (landowner or someone in charge of the fields) to take and give seed with almsmen; gather his plough tools, bore hole in beam; take seed and set on plough.
  • A second person to assist by supplying the materials, boring the hole.
  • One of the above to drive forth the plough, cut first furrow.
  • Someone (female?) take flour types, bake loaf, knead with milk and holy water (ahead of time)
  •  Someone (the baker? the clergy speaker?) to lay loaf in furrow


§1+ Clerical persons:

  • Say  OE “Erce” formula; say OE “hal wes” formula as man drives forth plough
  • Say* OE “ful æcer” formula over bread laid in furrow,
  •  Say Crescite 3xs, Pater noster 3xs.

Keeping in mind that this field remedy re-creation project is aimed at a Leeds session honoring Debby Banham, it seems suitable to include a picture of her efforts at Anglo-Saxon bread baking.


Assuming that the same people were involved in both the sod and the plough ceremonies, possibly over two days, the proceedings might normally involve a dozen or so people, clerical and lay.

I imagine at minimum two clergy persons, a masspriest and another high level cleric speaking the formulas and ordering the other actions.  But I am guessing that some of the clerical tasks could be assigned to lower ranks if this were a collegiate or monastic church.  For example:

  • a doorwarden supervising sods outside the church and their transportation into the church
  • a lector or reader for texts
  • exorcist to perform the hallowing of materials
  • acolyte to assist the priest
  • subdeacon or deacon as speaker of Old English and Latin formulas

I imagine a rural community of at minimum eight households, perhaps 40+ adults, in addition to the manor household and the clerical staff of the church.  But I am guessing it may well be a much larger site.

  • If the landowner was a secular lord, those “under him” could include a bailiff of some kind acting in his absence, those who work in the fields (their own and the owner’s), crafts-persons, household servants, and women involved in gardening, dairying, and baking.
  • Even if the landowner is an ecclesiastical institution, which seems likely if it is a church with multiple clergy, most of the manual labor would probably be carried out by a similar community of lay workers in the fields, gardens, and kitchens.

Next up:  the materials involved.  I will get to the script eventually!

Posted by: kljolly | April 20, 2018

Æcerbot Ritual III: Place

Just as the “field remedy” found in BL Cotton Caligula A.VI cannot be tied to a particular season or days, it is also not specific to a place or region.   However, clues within the remedy itself suggest some parameters for the type of property and appurtenances needed to carry it out.  My goal in this post is to finds ways to visualize the performance of the remedy using known Anglo-Saxon manorial estate sites.  In particular, we need to imagine the relative position of church to fields.

The ideal would be to triangulate on a site or sites from three nodes of data that would be mappable:

  1. A Domesday Book entry showing who and what was on the property in “the reign of Edward” (before the Norman Conquest).  We are looking for a medium-sized site with ploughlands and animal pasture, and a church with priest (although DB is not consistent in recording the latter, we can extrapolate from other evidence).
  2. A charter (Electronic Sawyer) showing the boundaries of a property, as well as its ownership.  This data complements DB:  while DB tells us who and what is on the property, charter bounds describe the relative size and external parameters.  Of course, not all of the boundary references are recoverable today (trees, stones, mounds).
  3. Archaeological and other material evidence.  I am particularly interested in excavated and/or re-created sites for which someone has drawn up a map showing ridge-and-furrow fields, houses and outbuildings, as well as a church (even if the extant church has been rebuilt in later times).

The third item is a good starting place, just because surveyed sites usually will reference any charter and Domesday Book evidence.  Also useful for correlating this data is PASE (Prosopography of Anglo-Saxon England). I have done something similar using GoogleEarth for the Oakley region where Aldred and Bishop Ælfsige camped in 970.

Here are some site maps that potentially provide visualization for the field remedy:

  • Heslerton in the Yorkshire Wolds, excavated and documented by the Landscape Research Centre, either West Heslerton‘s Anglian settlement, or East Heslerton :
  • Also in Yorkshire:  Wharram Percy, although later medieval, has the advantage of being relatively untouched (a “lost” medieval village). The commercial archaeological firm DigVentures posted air images of seven lost medieval villages, including Wharram Percy.  .Historic England  has some good images of it as well:
  • Cuxham in Oxfordshire, the local history site has posted a 1767 map from P. Harvey that illustrates a common medieval field system:

    Cuxham map

    Cuxham, Oxfordshire

  • The University of Sheffield  has a good settlement map for Fillingham, Lincolnshire from their field survey:


    Fillingham, Lincolnshire

  • East Meon history has pictures of a model of a “Domesday Village.”  See also a pdf article on East Meon hundred by Ian Wesley.


    East Meon “Domesday Village” model

  • For Northamptonshire, Rockingham Forest Trust has a lot of maps of villages, such as this one at Corby.

    Corby historic map 1829(500)

    Corby, Northamptonshire

  • Likewise, British History Online has digitized books with a lot of medieval village sites, such as Upton (fig. 17) and Kettering from An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in the County of Northamptonshire.


    Upton, Northamptonshire

  • The re-creation site of West Stow is early Anglo-Saxon, for which Angelcynn has posted some evocative images:


    West Stow Angelcynn

  • And then there is “Bede’s World,” the Jarrow Hall Anglo-Saxon farm and village, although the site does not have landscape maps.

    Northumbria 040

    Bede’s World sheep, author photo

One preliminary conclusion from reviewing these various rural maps and diagrams is that the church is not usually very near the fields.  To perform the remedy would mean a certain amount of walking between and through the habitations for the priest and the others participating, suggestive of a processional.


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