Skip to content

Cambridge » Corpus Christi » MS 320

Library Place Cambridge
Library Name Corpus Christi
Shelfmark MS 320
Folio Range 2nd C.U. (54 fols: 117r-170v)
Date X 3/4
  • England
  • Canterbury


  • Penitential admonition in Old English (117r-v)
  • Penitential of Theodore (incomplete) (119r-141r)
  • Gregory and Augustine of Canterbury, Libellus responsionum (141r-154r)
  • Poem by Archbishop Theodore, inc. Te nunc sancte speculator (154v)
  • Order of Confession and Paenitentiale Sangermanense (or Cantabrigiense) (155r-166v)
  • Encyclopaedic notes on Christ's Incarnation; the Six Ages of the World and the Ages of Man; world chronology (with 5199 years from Creation to the Incarnation, deriving from the Eusebius-Jerome Chronicle); the numbers of bones, veins and teeth in the human body; the size of the world; the Temple of Solomon; the Tabernacle; Saint Peter's in Rome; Noah's Ark; the numbers of books in the Old and the New Testament; the number of verses in the Psalms; units for measuring distances; the sequence of events in the Seven Days of Creation; the site of Jerusalem (166v-169v)
  • Fragment of the Scriftboc (170r).
Old Breton Materials No
Irish / Hiberno-Latin materials No
Connection with Brittany

In all likelihood, this MS was written at St Augustine's Abbey in Canterbury. Although in most of the scholarly literature this MS is dated to the second half or the end of the tenth century, the more precise dating provided here is based on Gameson's view, as reported in Delen et al. 2012: 344. According to Bishop (1957), CCCC 320 belongs to a group of Canterbury MSS written in a relatively early form of English Caroline minuscule, still presenting numerous insular abbreviations (cf. Bishop 1957: 332). Bishop (1957: 334) pointed out what follows in relation to a number of specific palaeographical features: 'The archaic features of the script [of this group of MSS] include frequent open g and occasional open a, and these have been held to characterize the minuscule of the ninth rather than the tenth century. [...] Perhaps it would be safer to take open g and a with some other recurrent features of the Caroline in this series [...] as deriving from the style of a particular and perhaps rather backward continental scriptorium. Wherever this was (I don't think it was Fleury), the generally excellent script of this series need not be supposed to derive from any first-rate model. The drawings and ornaments of these and many other English MSS. can show [...] how continental models might be transformed out of recognition by the artistic momentum of tenth-century England.' Although Bishop never mentioned Brittany, it is hard not to think of that region as the possible area of origin of (one of) the exemplar(s) of CCCC 320—a suspicion that may receive some support from Lindsay's observation of an abbreviation for cum in this MS as well as in London, BL, Cotton Otho E.XIII, Orléans, Médiathèque, 221 (193), and Oxford, Bodleian Library, Hatton 42 (Lindsday 1912: 266). Moreover, in view of the strong Breton interest in canon law and penitentials, the contents of this MS are eminently compatible with the possible existence of an underlying Breton exemplar. It should finally be pointed out that the interesting collection of encylopaedic notes occurring at fols 166v–169v (whose description presented here in the section 'Contents' above is adapted from ASM 103) is very similar to a section of Cambridge, Corpus Christi, MS 183 (written in England in the late eleventh century).

Number(s) in Bischoff's Katalog n/a
Essential bibliography

ASM 103–4 (§90; fols 117–70); Bishop 1957: 326, 330–; Delen et al. 2002: 343–4; James 1912: II, 132–7; Ker 1957: 105–6 (§58); Lindsay 1912: 266; PMSB 297 (§21).

URLs for digital facsimile
Last Updated 2021-06-07 17:35:39
Author Jacopo Bisagni
DHBM Identifier #35
« Previous MSS

Cambridge » Corpus Christi » MS 279

Next MSS »

Cambridge » Fitzwilliam Museum » MS 45-1980