Digital fragment collection

Medieval parchment fragments in Bergen University Library and The Regional State Archives in Bergen

Description of UB Bergen MS 1549, 1, a-d

The Botulph Breviary fragments


The so-called Botulph Breviary fragments is a group of four fragments from the same Breviary, written in England in the late thirteenth century. One of the fragments contains the readings six to nine for the Matins of St Botulph's day (17 June, in Scotland 25 June). Nine readings constitute the highest degree of a saint's feast. St Botulph was a popular saint in Eastern England and Scotland, and the Botulph breviary was therefore perhaps written in Eastern England. The lessons six to nine, more or less extant in our fragment a, describe Botulph's discovery of Ikanho (possibly the present Iken in Suffolk, east of Ipswich), the exorcism of the area's demons, the building of the monastery (in 654), and, finally, to the great lament of his fellow brothers, Botulph's death (in 680). Apart from the readings of St Botulph's day, the fragments contain parts of the liturgy of the feast days of the Annunciation (25 March) and of the Saints Philip and Jacob (1 May).

Facsimiles and transcriptions

UBB MS 1549 1a, rectoUBB MS 1549 1a, verso.
UBB MS 1549 1b, rectoUBB MS 1549 1b, verso.
UBB MS 1549 1c, rectoUBB MS 1549 1c, verso.
UBB MS 1549 1d, rectoUBB MS 1549 1d, verso.

Manuscript Identification


Bergen University Library, Art and Humanities Library


Bergen University Library


MS 1549, 1, a-d


MS 410, 1


Br 4 (Gjerløw)

The Botulph Breviary fragments [Parchment, four fragments: a: ca 17x18 cm, b: ca 25x14 cm, c and d: ca 12x3 cm, (original size: ca 25x18 cm), England, late 13th century.]

Manuscript Content

a: St Botulph's day, 17 June: The fragment contains parts of paragraphs five to nine of the nocturnal readings of Matins on St Botulph's day, 17 June. The readings correspond with St Botulph's Vita in Acta sanctorum, Junius IV, p. 402, which was issued by Folcard, abbot of Thorney, in 1070. The divisions, however, do not correspond entirely with the Vita, because of steps taken to fit eleven chapters into nine readings. Our text begins with the last few lines of lesson five, with the king granting Botulph land for his monastery. Lesson six is the only complete lesson, not missing any parts due to the sorry state of the fragment. In the sixth lesson Botulph finds Ikanho (here spelled "kanho"), and decides to settle there, even though the deserted place is full of demons. In the seventh lesson, which for some reason is missing its rubric, Botulph exorcises the demons in spite of their pleas. Lesson eight begins with the flight of the demons, and goes on with the building of the monastery of Ikanho, "equal to those of France", and Botulph's gathering and teaching of the brothers. The ninth lesson describes Botulph's virtues, his last years among his followers, and, finally, his death, when God calls him from the prison of the flesh to his coronation in heaven, to the tears and lament of his fellow brothers. The shorter vita of the Schleswig breviary is entirely different from the one presented here. The Schleswig text clearly states that Botulph was Scottish, and from this we can probably interpret the sentence in lesson nine, that he was loved by everyone, "also the neighbouring inhabitants of his fatherland."

b: the Annunciation, 25 March: On fragment b we have the end of the first Vesper and the beginning of the Matins for the Annunciation, 25 March. The fragment begins with the second verse of the hymn Ave maris stella (CAO 8272). Next follows instruction for the verse Rorate celi, followed by the antiphon for the Magnificat, the Ingressus angelus (CAO 3339), complete with musical notation. The prayer Deus, qui de beate marie virginis utero, ends the vesper. Then comes the invitatory of the Matins (curiously enough spelled "Inuitiatorum"), Ave maria gratia plena (CAO 1539), with instructions for the psalm Venite. The hymn Quem terra pontus is indicated, and then comes the rubric for the first Nocturn. The antiphons and psalms follow in this order: Ant. Prophete predicaverunt (CAO 4392). Ps. Domine dominus. Ant. Rorate celi (CAO 4668). Ps. Celi enarrant. Ant. Egredietur virga (CAO 2613). Ps. Domini. V. Exyon (sic). Then comes the first lesson, followed by the responsory Ingressus angelus (CAO 6963). The second lesson is followed by the responsory [Suscipe] verbum (CAO 7744). The fragment ends with the third lesson.

c. and d. St. Philip and St. Jacob, 1. May: The fragment c and d are taken from the same page, with c as the upper part and d as the lower. Fragment c beginning with "non bibit" contains a reading on St Jacob, referring to his chaste way of life: He never drank wine, ate animal flesh, cut his hair or bathed. Fragment d then goes on with an unidentified reading. The verso-side of c continues with a reading on St Philip, describing how he preached to the Scythians for twenty years and was later buried there, and how his virgin daughters were buried with him. This was the final reading, since it is followed by Te Deum, which finishes Matins. The verso-side of fragment d continues with an antiphon for Lauds of the same Saint's feast, followed by the psalm Dominus regnavit and the antiphon Ego sum via (CAO 2603)

Physical Description

Parchment, four fragments, 2a: ca 17x18 cm, b: ca 25x14 cm, c and d: ca 12x3 cm, (original size: ca 25x18 cm)

Lay-out: Ruled with a lead point. The top line frames the writing space, which has been ca 21 x 14,5 cm. Two columns, 6,5 cm wide. Originally 36 lines to each column.

Script: Gothic textualis, written with a pen with a thick nib. Short ascenders and descenders. This seems to be a product of a transitional phase, since two types of a occur; most a's are closed, but some are still open and with a rounder shape. The insular abbreviation-sign for est ÷ occurs (b verso, third line). Rubricated.

Musical notation: Square notation on four red lines. Clefs: c, f and b.

Initials: Fleuronné in blue, red and possibly green. The initials appear in a hierarchy, from the minor, plain alternating red and blue initials over one line in the verses of the hymn Ave maris stella to the large and flourished initial P (over six lines) of Prophete predicaverunt, the first antiphon of the first nocturne. The first letters of the prayers and readings are flourished or plain alternating red and blue initials over two lines.

Condition: Fragment a is not in a very good condition. Particularly the verso side is quite worn and darkened, and parts of the text is difficult to read. Fragment b is the largest and best preserved fragment in this group, although it has a 2,5 cm fold on the left margin of the verso side, hiding the left part of the text in the column. For the top 6 cm it is possible to peek underneath the fold, but later the fold sticks to the parchment underneath. The fragments a, b and c have holes in them from the binding.



England, possibly Eastern England, in the late 13th century. The nine lesson celebration of St. Botulph's day, the characteristic feature of this Breviary, is taken from the English Vita. In Scandinavia the Schleswig Breviary (1512) and Uppsala (1496) also have nine readings, but these are taken from another Vita, possibly of Scandinavian origin. Nidaros (1519) has six readings, while the English sees York and Hereford only have three, and the use of Sarum does not celebrate Botulph at all. The breviary may have originated in Eastern England, because of the strong Botulph's cult in that area.


Secondary provenance unknown.


MS 1549,1a-e was a gift to the museum of Bergen from cand. theol. H. Daae in 1829. The H. Daae in question is probably Hans Daae (1808-65), born in Leikanger as son of the minister there. He began his theology studies in Christiania in 1825. In 1831 he was employed as a chaplain in Korskirken (the Cross Church) in Bergen, where he stayed until 1850. The circumstances for the gift, or where Daae acquired the fragments, is not known.


Acta sanctorum, Junius III, Paris & Rome 1867, p. 402-403 (for St Botulph).

Acta sanctorum, Maii I, 1-5, Paris & Rome 1867, p. 12A and p. 21F (for Sts Philip & Jacob).

Gjerløw, Lilli (ed.) 1968: Ordo Nidrosiensis ecclesiae, Oslo, n. p. 351.

Toy, John 2003: "St. Botulph: An English saint in Scandinavia", The Cross goes North, York, pp. 565-570.

Tveitane, Mattias et. al.: Bergen University Library Manuscript Catalogue [unpublished]