Skip to main content

MS 218: Fragments of the Auchinleck Manuscript containing two texts, 1330s

 Item
Identifier: MS 218

Contents

These fragments consist of four leaves of the famous Auchinleck Manuscript, held by the National Library of Scotland. This manuscript was written in the 1330s in London and contains a collection on Middle English works believed to provide unique insight into the 14th century, not least because some of the Middle English texts within it do not appear elsewhere. These fragments were separated from the main manuscript, and seem to have been used for covers for books.
Two of the leaves are from the version of the Middle English Life of Adam and Eve that appears in the Auchinleck manuscript. This is a unique version of this Apocryphal text. The other two leaves are from the Middle English Richard Coer de Lyon. This is a verse text recounting the life of Richard I, King of England, and is both historical and fantastical.
The texts are described separately, under MS 218/ll. 1-352 and MS 218/ll. 169-344; 695-870.
Writing The Auchinleck manuscript is believed to have been copied by 6 scribes. All of these leaves seem to have been written by Scribe 1 in clear bookhand.

Dates

  • 1330s

Language of Materials

Middle English

Conditions Governing Access

The collection is open to all. The manuscripts can be consulted in the Centre for Research Collections, Edinburgh University Main Library.

Extent

4 Leaves

Custodial History

The first fragment has been printed by David Laing in A Penni Worth of Witte, which is enclosed with the Fragments (see Bibliography).
The other two leaves of the Romance of Richard Coeur de Lion correspond, as indicated in the Contents section of MS 218/ll. 169-344; 695-87, with Weber's edition of the poem (see Bibliography), though the text varies slightly. A transcript of the text is included with the Fragments.
Two of the leaves were given to David Laing as specimens of old writing, and were in his possession some time before he discovered them to be part of the Auchinleck Manuscript. The other two were secured by him later. They seem to have been used as covers for books which were purchased as notebooks by a professor at St. Andrews before 1750. (See the Preface to A Penni Worth of Witte referred to above and in the Bibliography, and enclosed with the Fragments).

Previous reference

Laing, Div. ii. i.

Previous title

Title given to the manuscript in Catherine Borland’s catalogue: Fragments of Auchinleck MS.

Bibliography

Bliss, A.J. “The Auchinleck Life of Adam and Eve”. The Review of English Studies 7.28 (1956): 406-409. Note: a copy of this article is included with the Fragments.
Laing, David. A Penni Worth of Witte: Florice and Blauncheflour and Other Pieces of Ancient English Poetry, Selected from The Auchinleck Manuscript. Edinburgh: The Abbotsford Club, 1857, ii-iii. Note: a copy of the Preface to this text, in which Laing discusses the Auchinleck fragments, is included with the Fragments.
Weber, Henry. Metrical Romances of the Thirteenth, Fourteenth, and Fifteenth Centuries. Volume II. Edinburgh: Archibald Constable, 1810. The line references given in the “Contents” section of Richard Coer de Lyon refer to this edition.

Physical Facet

Material: Vellum

Binding: No longer bound, but binding included in box with fragments (cloth binding, lettered 'Fragments of the Auchinleck MS’)

Dimensions

26.35 cm x 20.00 cm

General

Foliation and number of lines to a page: Four leaves, in double columns, 44 lines to a page

Repository Details

Part of the Edinburgh University Library Special Collections Repository

Contact:
Centre for Research Collections
University of Edinburgh Main Library
George Square
Edinburgh EH8 9LJ Scotland
+44(0)131 650 8379