For those still following–or my fellow conferees at the Marco Manuscript Workshop this coming weekend–I have posted another fiction draft, focused on Scribe B’s sole contribution to Durham Cathedral Library A.IV.19 on fol. 61.
This particular item is curious for several reasons. First, Scribe B is less than competent in Latin and orthography: his intial letter “d” (to the left) uses too small a nib for the size; other errors include odd abbreviations and a decidedly ungainly letter “a.”
Second, Aldred not only glosses the text in red but also corrects it, arguably while Scribe B is still copying–or possibly taking dictation, considering some of the aural errors, like “d” for “t” in such basic words as habed and ut.
Third, the text in question is the prayer of St. John for poison, also found in the medical texts Leechbook and Lacnunga, prayerbooks of Cerne and Nunnaminster, as well as Irish sources, although this is the only case where it is glossed in Old English.
Last, these three points lead me to posit that Aldred set the task for Scribe B as a literacy exercise, giving him a text that would require him to copy words not even Aldred knew the meaning of, such as various and sundry reptiles not found in the British Isles. I have speculated that Scribe B might be at the lowly clerical rung of exorcist, with this prayer a fine example of the cleaning duties assigned to exorcists (forget the head-spinning stuff and think of washing church utensils).
So my fictional account (Scribe B draft) attempts to reconstruct the relationship between master and pupil as they converse about this prayer–not just the letter forms and words, but the meaning and spiritual import. Comments are welcome, here or on the page.