An Illustration to Ælfric’s De temporibus anni in Ælfwine’s Prayerbook

  • 1 University of, Palermo, Italy
Loredana Teresi


The present essay discusses a diagram found in London, British Library, Cotton Titus D.xxvii+xxvi, the so-called Ælfwine’s Prayerbook. The diagram, which appears on fol. 21 v (see Figure 1), has been interpreted by most scholars as an incomplete tidal rota or an incomplete wind rota (as it contains only 4 out of the canonical 12 winds). A detailed, comparative analysis of the features of the diagram, however, proves that the hypothesis of the tidal rota must be discarded in favour of that of the wind diagram. Moreover, an analysis of the manuscript contents and of the way in which the manuscript was written reveals a close connection between the diagram and Ælfric’s De temporibus anni, showing that the diagram is complete in its present form, and was inspired by the Ælfrician text. My study shows that the rota constitutes an illustration to the discussion of the winds appearing in the De temporibus anni and, at the same time, a representation of the Cross and of the close connection between God and the natural world, perfectly integrated within Ælfwine’s interests and architectural plans, as well as within the “visual-exegetical method” (Kühnel 2003) of the period.

  • Birch, Walter de Gray. 1892. Liber Vitae: Register and Martyrology of New Minster and Hyde Abbey, Winchester. London: Simpkin/Winchester: Warren.

  • Blake, Martin. (ed.). 2009. Ælfric’s De temporibus anni. Cambridge: Brewer.

  • Cameron, Angus. 1973. “A List of Old English Texts”. In: Roberta Frank and Angus Cameron (eds.). A Plan for the Dictionary of Old English. Toronto: University of Toronto Press. 25–306.

  • Chardonnens, László Sándor. 2007. Anglo-Saxon Prognostics, 900–1100: Study and Texts. Leiden: Brill.

  • Fontaine, Jacques (ed.). 1960. Isidore de Seville: Traité de la Nature, suivi de l'Épître en vers du roi Sisebut à Isidore. Bordeaux: Féret.

  • Gameson, Richard. 1992. “Manuscript Art at Christ Church Canterbury, in the Generation after St Dunstan”. In: Nigel Ramsay, Margaret Sparks and Timothy Tatton-Brown (eds.). St Dunstan: His Life, Times and Cult. Woodbridge: Boydell. 187–221.

  • Gameson, Richard. 1999. The Manuscripts of Early Norman England (c. 1066–1130). Oxford: Oxford University Press.

  • Gameson, Richard. 2002. The Scribe Speaks? Colophons in Early English Manuscripts. Cambridge: Department of Anglo-Saxon, Norse and Celtic, University of Cambridge.

  • Gneuss, Helmut and Michael Lapidge. 2014. Anglo-Saxon Manuscripts: A Bibliographical Handlist of Manuscripts and Manuscript Fragments Written or Owned in England up to 1100. Toronto/Buffalo, NY/London: University of Toronto Press.

  • Günzel, Beate (ed.). 1993. Ælfwine’s Prayerbook (London, British Library, Cotton Titus D.xxvi + xxvii). Henry Bradshaw Society 108. London: Boydell.

  • Henel, Heinrich (ed.). 1942. Ælfric’s De temporibus anni. EETS OS 213. London/New York/Toronto: Oxford University Press.

  • Hughes, Paul. 2003. “Implicit Carolingian Tidal Data”. Early Science and Medicine 8: 1–24

  • Jones, Charles W. 1943. Bedae opera de temporibus. Cambridge, MA: The Medieval Academy of America.

  • Karkov, Catherine E. 2006. “Text as Image in Ælfwine’s Prayerbook”. In: Hugh Magennis and Jonathan Wilcox (eds.). The Power of Words: Anglo-Saxon Studies Presented to Donald G. Scragg on his Seventieth Birthday. Morgantown, WV: West Virginia University Press. 95–114.

  • Ker, Neil R. 1957. Catalogue of Manuscripts Containing Anglo-Saxon. Oxford: Clarendon.

  • Keynes, Simon D. (ed.). 1996. The Liber Vitae of the New Minster and Hyde Abbey, Winchester: British Library Stowe 944, together with Leaves from British Library Cotton Vespasian A.VIII and British Library Cotton Titus D.XXVII. Early English Manuscripts in Facsimile 26. Copenhagen: Rosenkilde & Bagger.

  • Knowles, David, C. N. L. Brooke and Vera C. M. London. 1972. The Heads of Religious Houses in England and Wales, 940–1216. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

  • Kühnel, Bianca. 2003. The End of Time in the Order of Things: Science and Eschatology in Early Medieval Art. Regensburg: Schnell and Steiner.

  • Lindsay, Wallace Martin (ed.). 1911. Isidori Hispalensis episcopi etymologiarum sive originum libri XX. 2 vols. Oxford: Clarendon.

  • Obrist, Barbara. 1997. “Wind Diagrams and Medieval Cosmology”. Speculum 72: 33–84.

  • Obrist, Barbara. 2004. La cosmologie médiévale: Textes et images. Vol. I: Les fondements antiques. Florence: SISMEL – Edizioni del Galluzzo.

  • PASE = The Prosopography of Anglo-Saxon England <> [last accessed 21 March 2020].

  • PL = Migne, Jacques Paul (ed.). 1844–1864. Patrologiae cursus completus: Series Latina. 221 vols. Paris. Vol. 90 (1862).

  • Pulsiano, Phillip. 1998. “The Prefatory Matter of London, British Library, Cotton Vitellius E. xviii”. In: Phillip Pulsiano and Elaine M. Treharne (eds.). Anglo-Saxon Manuscripts and their Heritage. Aldershot: Ashgate. 85–116.

  • Scragg, Donald. 2012. A Conspectus of Scribal Hands Writing English, 960–1100. Woodbridge: Brewer.

  • Scragg, Donald. 2019. “Cryptograms in Old English as Micro-Texts”. In: Ursula Lenker and Lucia Kornexl (eds.). Anglo-Saxon Micro-Texts. Berlin/Boston, MA: De Gruyter. 117–129.

  • Stokes, Peter A. 2014. English Vernacular Minuscule from Æthelred to Cnut, circa 990 – circa 1035. Cambridge: Brewer.

  • Temple, Elżbieta. 1976. Anglo-Saxon Manuscripts, 900–1066. London: Harvey Miller.

  • Teresi, Loredana. 2007. “Anglo-Saxon and Early Anglo-Norman Mappaemundi”. In: Rolf H. Bremmer and Kees Dekker (eds.). Foundations of Learning: The Transfer of Encyclopaedic Knowledge in the Early Middle Ages. Louvain: Peeters. 341–377.

  • Teresi, Loredana. 2008. “Which Way is the Wind Blowing? Meteorology and Political Propaganda in the Metres of Boethius”. In: Silvana Serafin and Patrizia Lendinara (eds.). ... un tuo serto di fiori in man recando: Scritti in onore di Maria Amalia D’Aronco. Vol. 2. Udine: Forum Editrice Universitaria. 427–446.

  • Wallis, Faith. 1999. Bede: The Reckoning of Time. Liverpool: Liverpool University Press.

  • Winterbottom, Michael and Rodney M. Thomson (eds.). 2007. William of Malmesbury, Gesta pontificum anglorum: The History of the English Bishops. Oxford: Clarendon.

Purchase article
Get instant unlimited access to the article.
Log in
Already have access? Please log in.

Log in with your institution

Journal + Issues

A renowned journal of English philology, Anglia was founded in 1878 by Moritz Trautmann and Richard P. Wülker. It is thus the oldest journal of English Studies in existence. Anglia publishes essays on the English language and linguistic history, on English literature of the Middle Ages and the modern period, on American literature, on new literatures in English, as well as on general and comparative literary studies.