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.


Posted by: kljolly | April 13, 2018

Æcerbot Ritual II: Timing

As noted in my previous post, I am endeavoring to re-create the Æcerbot Ritual from BL Cotton Caligula A.VII as a scripted performance for my Leeds paper this summer.  This post addresses the timing:  the season of the year, the number of days, and the time of day.  The next post will address issues of place:  region, type of estate, layout of the property.  That post, or a subsequent one if it gets too long like this one, will take up the materials and persons needed to carry out the ritual.  Eventually, I will present my script for performing the ritual.

Throughout, I refer to the Æcerbot Ritual as “the field remedy.”  It’s easier to type than pasting in the Æ. And, yes, I am using British plough not American plow, because of the books I read.


Much ink has been spilled trying to locate this field remedy in the agricultural or church calendar.  Two main candidates are Plough Monday in early January and Rogation Days in spring.  Elements in the field remedy resonate with both of these, but other elements mitigate against making a strong identification with either.

First, we need to establish the Anglo-Saxon agricultural cycle as it has been reconstructed from textual, artistic, and archaeological evidence.  For this, I am reliant on the work of Debby Banham, Rosamond Faith, Peter Fowler, and Fergus Kelly, among others.

Seasons for ploughing, sowing, and harvesting vary by crop and region.  But in general, for grain crops in late Anglo-Saxon England, we can posit the following:

  • Although ploughing is associated with January in the illustrated calendar, ploughing to keep the earth turned over might start soon after autumn harvest and continue through the winter as a means of keeping the earth tilled and weeds down (Banham and Faith, pp. 50-59).
  • Ploughing might also be used as part of  manuring, for example, to plough in bean stalks for nitrogen, or to turn up subsoil into the seed bed (Fowler, pp. 209-11). [I am not going to distinguish here between a plough, an ard, or a harrow, but see Banham and Faith, pp. 44-50.]
  • Wheat and rye, with a longer growing season, are winter-sown, while oats and barley are spring-sown.  The field remedy “Erce” prayer specifically names both “broad” barley (bradan berewæstma) and “white” wheat (hwitan hwætewæstma), and then all crops (ealra eorþan wæstma).

Also to be kept in mind is that the field remedy in this one version we possess is prefaced by a statement indicating its use for a field that is problematic in some way:  it has not produced well in the past, and might have been cursed through sorcery or poison.  Other references to witchcraft in the field remedy’s Old English prayers suggest a least those portions were designed specifically for remedial use against evil intentions.

In comparison to similar ritual remedies, the field remedy, existing in only one manuscript, is a bit mysterious.  The much more ubiquitous “John poison prayer” occurs in both prayer books and medical texts, with different prefaces indicating a variety of spiritual as well as physical applications (Jolly, “Cross-Referencing,” 221–28; Pettit, 2: 77–79). The Durham A.IV.19 field prayers against winged threats visible and invisible are quite specific, and probably reference a lunar date (Jolly, “Prayers from the Field” and Addenda and Corrigenda).

On the one hand, then, the field remedy seems very exacting in its prescriptions; but on the other hand, it is surprisingly silent on its calendrical date, unless something is missing from the manuscript.  Given how elaborate the ritual is, requiring a great deal of time and resources, it is tempting to identify it with a known ceremonial occasion.  At the very least, examining the two candidates of Plough Monday and Rogation Days may help us sort out what the field remedy is trying to accomplish.

Plough Monday

This ceremony of blessing the plough is known only from later medieval evidence, and is associated with January 6, Epiphany, with a preceding Plough Sunday celebration (Niles, pp. 47-48).  Although no evidence for a Plough Monday celebration exists in Anglo-Saxon evidence, it lines up nicely with the Anglo-Saxon calendar illustration for January of ploughing, and somewhat oddly, sowing. January does seem a bit early for sowing wheat or rye, so the illustration may be combining two different activities, a first ploughing and a later sowing.

Setting the field remedy in January and associating it with ploughing and sowing simultaneously works in some ways.  Tangentially, Epiphany’s celebration of the Magi bringing their gifts, including incense, resonates with some of the field remedy’s use of gifts and incense.   More importantly, the remedy specifies exchanging seed with beggars and the placement of seed on the plough.  This suggests the kind of ploughing done just prior to sowing–but it is questionable that wheat or rye would be sown in January.

Other elements in the remedy are also problematic for January.  For one, the remedy specifies milk from each animal on the land (presumably cows, sheep, or goats).  Unlike modern dairying, early medieval animals probably stopped producing over the winter (Banham and Faith, p. 113).  Nonetheless, early Irish evidence suggests methods to deliberately keep a cow in milk year-round (Kelly, p 41).  This would be unlikely with sheep or goats, though.

Rogation Days

Rogation Days are three days prior to Ascension dedicated to a penitential supplication for crops that goes back to a tangled set of origins in the sixth century (Bedingfield, 191–209; Jolly, “Prayers from the Field,”109-110).  Easter calculations fix the date:  Rogation Sunday is the fifth Sunday after Easter (which could fall between April 26 and May 30), with Rogation days the subsequent Monday through Wednesday, and Ascension on Thursday.  Rogation Days were practiced in late Anglo-Saxon England, evident for example in calendars, service books, and sermons (Hill, “Litaniae Maiores and Minores).

In favor of associating the field remedy with Rogation:

  • Rogation’s origins include a story of cursed fields for which a penitential procession around the fields is prescribed, matching the purpose described at the beginning of the field remedy;
  • three days set aside for penance might include the full day or two the field remedy performance might take;
  • the Rogation procession includes carrying relics, the cross, and saying litanies; the field remedy prescribes a litany with full ritual prostration, among other liturgical elements.

Elements against:

  • Other than the litany, little in the field remedy resonates with Rogation processions:  no mention of carrying a cross (although there are the quickbeam crosses placed in the sod divots), no relics, no mention of crowds moving around the property barefoot, no reference to three days.
  • April 26-May 30 is fairly late even for barley and oat sowing.  The field remedy seems designed specifically for the ploughing and sowing of seeds, while Rogation days may function to protect the crops after sowing is done, depending on the dates on which it falls relative to the climate and conditions locally.

My conclusion on the season: if Plough Monday seems a bit too early, Rogation Days may be too late.  We are looking for a Goldilocks time.  Tempting as it is to associate the field remedy with either of these dates, the ritual could have been used any time when ploughing and sowing took place:  in winter for wheat and rye, or in spring for barley and oats.  Given the justification offered at the beginning as a remedy for diseased or cursed fields, it may have been that the landowner or workers requested the services of the clergy when a field was problematic. The day for beginning the ritual, which had to be planned at least a day or more in advance, might have been set based on the readiness of the community to begin ploughing and sowing that field, when the temperature was just right.

EdenValley 005 Temple Sowerby

Temple Sowerby, Eden Valley, Cumbria. author photo August 2013



Linked to placing the field remedy into the calendar is the amount of time it would take to plan and carry out the rituals, including preparing the materials.  Several things are noteworthy in the remedy:

  • The remedy would take advance planning and preparation of materials, at least a day.  This includes the gathering of plants, milk from different animals, baking of bread, and the like.
  • It specifically says that the sods from the field need to be cut before sunrise and that they must be replaced in the field before sundown.  Everything in between would need to take place in one day.
  • Possibly that day of sod blessing could end with the litany and Latin prayers, and a new day start with the phrase ðonne þæt eall sie gedon þonne (when all that is done, then…) followed by the plough ceremony itself.  In my previous post, I suggested that þonne functions as a divider between sets of activities; this longer phrase of when…then suggests a longer break separating the sod blessing from the plough ceremonies.

So, this whole field remedy might have taken three days, vaguely reminiscent of Rogation days, but as noted above, not really lining up with the requirements for Rogation penitential processions.  In theory, the blessing of the sods could be a Sunday, with four masses said over them, and the plough ceremony on a Monday, suggestive of Plough Monday.

However, accomplishing all of the activities for the sods between dawn and dusk would be daunting in winter.  Using a 2018 sunrise and sunset calendar for London:   at the beginning of January, we have a daylight window of eight hours from 8:05 a.m. to 4:05 p.m.;  while at the end of April, that window of time would be more than fourteen hours, from 5:40 a.m. to 8:15 p.m.  We can also consider adding an amount of twilight extending 30 minutes either side.

The four Masses performed over the sods are presumably not done back to back, but occur between the Daily Office prayers and other activities (I will take up later why I think this is a church with multiple clergy and at least a secular Office performed daily).  It might look like this (see Hughes, pp. 14-18, and Palazzo, 124-25):

  • Nocturns (the night office, also called Vigils and later Matins) on the eve of the day:  go get sods.
  • Lauds (or Matins) at dawn:  7:30ish in January, 5:30ish in April.
  • Prime at the first hour of the day after sunrise: 8 a.m. in January, 6ish in April.
  • Chapter meeting:  busy with sod blessing?
  • Chapter Mass
  • blessing of salt and water done on Sundays: bless also some sapan, among other ingredients often noted as “hallowed” in remedies.
  • Terce (3rd hour): 10:30ish in January, 8:30ish in April?
  • Sunday Mass, usually after Terce
  • Sext (6th hour), noon
  • Mass, after Sext on ferias
  • None (9th hour): 2 or 3ish in January, 3ish in April.
  • Mass (after None on fasts–admittedly you wouldn’t have a ferial and a fasting mass on the same day, but work with me here to get four  masses into the day!).
  • Between None and Vespers is where it would be much easier in April to finish the sod ceremonies out in the field before sunset than it would be in January.
  • Vespers in the early evening:  4ish in January, 7:30ish in April.
  • Compline at bedtime

Even setting aside the plough ceremony for another day, I am guessing that you wouldn’t want to try and pull off this sod blessing in one day in January or even February.  I would aim for March.

Now you can also see why I am interested in how long it takes to perform the Mass, and whether one can just repeat the Canon of the Mass only.

Conclusions on Timing

Given this analysis of seasons and days, I think it is a mistake to lock the field remedy into either January 6 Plough Monday or to late April Rogation days.  Rather, it seems designed for use whenever the ground was ready and the community was prepared to plough and sow a field that they were worried about.  This might be late winter for wheat and rye or early spring for barley and oats.


Banham, Debby and Rosamond Faith.  Anglo-Saxon Farms and Farming.  Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014.

Bedingfield, M. Bradford.  The Dramatic Liturgy of Anglo-Saxon England.  Woodbridge:  Boydell, 2002.

Fowler, Peter.  Farming in the First Millennium:  British Agriculture Between Julius Caesar and William the Conqueror. Cambridge:  Cambridge University Press, 2002.

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.

Hooke, Della.  The Landscape of Anglo-Saxon England.  London:  Leicester University Press, 1998.

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

Jolly, Karen.  “Cross-Referencing Anglo-Saxon Liturgy and Remedies: The Sign of the Cross as Ritual Protection.” In Liturgy of the Late Anglo-Saxon Church, ed. Helen Gittos and M. Bradford Bedingfield.  HBS Subsidia 5.  Woodbridge: Boydell, 2005, 213-43.

Jolly, Karen. “Prayers from the Field: Practical Protection and Demonic Defense in Anglo-Saxon England.” Traditio 61 (2006): 95-147.

Kelly, Fergus.  Early Irish Farming.  Dublin:  Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies, 1997.

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.

Palazzo, Eric.  A History of Liturgical Books from the Beginning to the Thirteenth Century, trans. Madeleine Beaumont.  Collegeville, MN:  LIturgical Press, 1993.

Pettit, Edward, ed. and trans. Anglo-Saxon Remedies, Charms, and Prayers from British Library MS Harley 585: The Lacnunga. Lewiston: Edwin Mellen Press, 2001.

Posted by: kljolly | April 5, 2018

Æcerbot Ritual I: Paleography and Codicology

For my Leeds Medieval Congress paper this summer, in a session honoring Debby Banham, I am re-examining certain bilingual rituals from a performative perspective, trying to “stage” them.  I am particularly interested in the timing:  how long might it take to recite a text and how does that affect the procedures?  The three I am planning to use are the Æcerbot Ritual, the Durham collectar ordeal (see post on Hehstald), and the Darley baptism ritual (see my use of it for Aldred’s baptism).

Today’s post is on the Æcerbot, and its paleographic and codicological context.  In further posts, I will provide my experimental “script” for the performance.  For reference:

For those not interested in the manuscript minutiae detailed below, here is a question to ponder and answer in future posts:

How long does it take to perform a typical or ordinary Mass service, from introit to post-communion, and how long for just the Canon of the Mass, from te igitur to concluding prayers of the masspriest, before the Pax Domini and Agnus Dei?

The bilingual (Old English and Latin) field remedy commonly called the Æcerbot Ritual exists in a single manuscript:  London, British Library Cotton Caligula A.viii, fols. 176r-178r, is in an early eleventh-century hand following a late tenth-century copy of the Old Saxon Heliand.  This is our sole witness to this agricultural “remedy.”  Although there are remotely similar practices and texts found elsewhere, nothing of this performative complexity:  it includes instructions for actions requiring material props; it records texts to be performed verbally in both Latin and Old English, with some of the Latin texts abbreviated; and it requires multiple people to plan and perform the ritual.


How do we get from this manuscript witness to the ritual performance, whether as performed prior to this written script or after, using this script?  If we were to re-enact it like a group of community players, how would we go about it?

First, some observations about the paleographic and codicological context, if we are going to read this as a “script” for performing the remedy:

  • It is added to an existing manuscript, and not included in a compendium of remedies or liturgical practices, with which it has analogs. In that sense, the remedy stands alone, although scholars have noted some thematic connections to the Heliand, at least in the mind of whoever bound it with the Heliand.
  • Ker says that the parchment is similar to the Heliand, so not “an independent fragment” bound by Cotton with the Heliand. But that does not preclude the possibility that the remedy folios, although produced in the same scriptorium, once stood alone as a booklet.
  • Disagree partly with Ker: the Heliand folios are insular style, with hair and flesh side sanded to uniform appearance, while the parchment of fols. 176-78 has hair side visibly different from flesh side.  176r hair, 176v flesh; 177r hair, 177v flesh; fol. 178r flesh, 178v hair (blank).
  • A vertical cut at the top of fol. 178 around which the scribe wrote suggests a low to medium grade of parchment. Heliand has similar folios with patches (fol. 167).
  • Heliand ends midway down fol. 175v, followed by an unfoliated blank leaf (BL designates as fol. 175*rv). Cut edge visible between fol. 175v and inserted leaf.  Inserted leaf prepped in insular fashion, hard to detect hair and flesh side.  175*r has faint imprint of letters from facing page (175v).  175*v has knife scrape erasure in upper middle.  So basically, two half sheets back to back here, fol. 175* and fol. 176, where the remedy starts.
  • Foliation of freestanding remedy: 176 is a half-sheet, fols. 177-178 a bifolium.  Paste down visible in gutter on 176v doesn’t make sense.  If 176 designed as a half sheet, it should be pasted down after fol. 178, not folded back on itself obscuring some of the letters, so a later binder must have done this.  This raises the possibility that fol. 176 was once a bifolium and its back half, which would be after fol. 178, is missing.
  • The remedy scribe finished with no room to spare on fol. 178r, while leaving the verso (178v) blank: does this suggest more texts were envisioned and never done?
  • BL site says dimensions overall: folios 220 x 140 mm (8.66×5.5 in), with text space 195 x 105 mm (7.67×4.13).  Ker says bifolium (and whole ms?) is 224×138 mm, and says Heliand has written space of 190×95 mm in 24 lines, while fols. 176-78 are 190×90 (7.48×3.54 in) with 22 lines.
  • Remedy folios, like Heliand, have wide outer margins. Narrow gutter margins may be function of the modern binding.  The 190×90 mm text box may have been centered on page when unbound.
  • Heliand has 24 lines per page, remedy 22 lines per page. Dry point lineation visible on remedy folios, not on Heliand (spot checked).  Aspect of remedy slightly more spacious than Heliand in terms of vertical spacing between lines and size of script.
  • Slight differences at least initially between Latin and OE script in the remedy disappears by the bottom of fol. 176r, where insular minuscule “s” is used for Latin (lines 21-22).
  • Some punctuation—capitals in the left margin, punctus in the text,–may indicate sections.
  • The abbreviated Latin forms of standard prayers suggests a clerical user familiar with the liturgy. The OE prayers are written out fully, suggesting these texts were not familiar.
  • Pater noster occurs four times, whether this meant reciting it in Latin or Old English or both is unclear, since “pater noster” had moved into Old English as a term for the prayer. 176v1, pater noster is written without abbreviation and using tall “s” as used thus far for Old English rather than sinuous “s” for Latin texts. But at 176v17, pater is written without abbreviation but noster is abbreviated (nr).  In both of these cases, the Pater noster follows the Crescite prayer.  At fol. 177r18-19, pater is abbreviated (pat) but noster is not and uses OE “s”; the Pater noster here follows Latin litanies, Tersanctus, Benedicite, and Magnificat; but has Roman numeral .iii. after.  The last instance is fol. 178r22, the last line of the remedy, where both are abbreviated (pat nr); it is preceded by the Crescite and In nomine patris sit benedicti, amen; and followed by OE þriwa (whereas Cresicte is preceded by Roman numeral .iii.).
  • Comparing Roman numerals versus OE words is possibly indicative of shifts between Lat. and OE or between texts and instructions. The OE instructions spell out feower, þriwa, and nigon on fols. 176rv, but uses .iii. at fol. 177r14 for turning sunward, and at 177r19 for the pater noster.  At 178r21, .iii. in front of Crescite.
  • A number of errors especially on fol. 177v suggest the scribe was hasty or unfamiliar with OE.
  • The remedy appears to be copied from some other manuscript source, rather than written from oral dictation, memory, observation, or a unique compiliation of the scribe. This otherwise unknown source or sources bears some relation to an oral performative context now lost to us.
  • The text as we have it copied here is framed as a set of instructions to be carried out by performers, whether this particular scribe intended it be acted out or not.
  • The fact that directions for performance as well as oral texts are written out is suggestive. Generally speaking, liturgical texts, except for the most basic sacramentary or the rare baptismal instructions as in Darley, assume the performer needs the written text just for prayers for specific occasions and knows how to carry out the rituals.  On the other hand, medicinal texts are more likely to specify how the practitioner should compound a prescription or perform a remedy, but with frequent gaps in presumably well-known procedures.
  • Although there are some stains, overall the manuscript does not look like it had been used to conduct the ritual—there is little wear on the corners or evidence of heavy usage outdoors, for example (although it would be interesting to test for dust, plant, and insect residues).
  • The small, paperback book size of the manuscript in its current form minus the later hard binding suggests it could be handheld and carried about, perhaps softbound.
  • Given the above codicology, fols. 176-78 could have been a booklet or part of a booklet. A softbound booklet would have been easier to use in performance.
  • The text might have served as a playbook for the group who planned the ritual ahead of time, so everyone knows their role.
  • If the written text were used in the performance, the logical person to hold it is the person reciting the oral texts, who could then give cues to the other performers.
  • Adverbial conjunction þonne (þanne, þænne) in directions may function to separate sets of activities, if not sequence them (some seem to overlap, or refer to procedures done ahead of time). There are a lot of continuity problems when blocking these scenes.

 Next up,

how do we turn this into a script playbook, and what do we need?


British Library, MS Cotton Caligula A.vii, fols. 176r-178r. Gneuss 308,  Ker 137. Critical edition:  Anglo-Saxon Poetic Records (ASPR), vol 6: The Anglo-Saxon Minor Poems, ed. Elliot van Kirk Dobbie (New York:  Columbia University Press, 1942).

Foley, John Miles.  “Epic and charm in Old English and Servo-Croatian oral tradition.”  Comparative Criticism: A Yearbook – British Comparative Literature Association 2 (1980): 71-92.

Hill, David. “The Æcerbot Charm and Its Christian User.” ASE 6 (1977): 213–21. Banham, Debby.  “The staff of life: cross and blessings in Anglo-Saxon cereal production.”  In Cross and Cruciform in the Anglo-Saxon World: Studies to Honor the Memory of Timothy Reuter. Ed. Sarah Larratt Keefer, Karen Louise Jolly and Catherine E. Karkov (Medieval European Studies, 11), pp. 279-318.

Kramer, Johanna Ingrid. “The Poetics of Materiality in Anglo-Saxon England: Religion and Material Reality in the Æcerbot Charm, Ascension Homilies, and Christ I.” Ph.D. Diss., Cornell Univ., 2006. DAI 67A (2006): 181.

Monlinari, Maria Vittoria. Sull’Æcerbot anglosassone. Rituale per la benedizione dei campi (ms. Londra, B.L., Cotton Caligula A. VII.”  Romanobarbarica: Contributi allo studio dei rapporti culturali tra mondo latino e mondo barbarico 10 (1989): 293-308.

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. PR181 .O4 1980

Rosenberg, Bruce A., “The Meaning of Æcerbot,” Journal of American Folklore 79 (1966), 428-436.

Schneider, Karl. “The OE. æcerbot – an Analysis.” Sophia Lectures on ‘Beowulf’. Ed. Shoichi Watanabe and Norio Tsuchiya. Tokyo: Taishukan, for the Japan Science Society, 1986. 276-98.




Posted by: kljolly | February 21, 2018

London Fall 2018 Study Abroad

Come explore the medieval world

with Professor Karen Jolly

on the London Fall 2018 Study Abroad program 

Students from any university are eligible for this University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa Study Abroad program for the same price as in-state students.

Students will take classes at the host Roehampton University, courses that are transferable for credit in their major or for general education.

Students will also take one or both of Dr. Jolly’s courses offered just to students in this program:

HIST 335 Early Medieval Europe

We will examine manuscripts and artifacts at a special exhibit in the British Library and at the British Museum. We will also take field trips into the countryside. HIST 335 syllabus.

AngloSaxon1 Cotton MS Tiberius BV

BL Cotton Tiberius B.V Can you find the British Isles on this eleventh-century map?

HIST 433 Medieval Cultures

We will examine pre-modern world history through the eyes of the British Museum.  Students will give oral presentations on artifacts and narrate rooms in the museum.   HIST 433 syllabus.


Why is this Rapa Nui moai in the British Museum and how did it get there?

For more information

  • UHM London program, Roehampton courses, costs (its affordable!), and application (deadline April 1, 2018), go to the Study Abroad website.
  • Courses and program for Fall 2018, contact Prof. Karen Jolly.



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