Skip to main content

Manuscript of an incomplete copy of 'De Actibus Apostolorum' by Arator.

Identifier: Adv.MS.18.8.19

Scope and Contents

Manuscript produced in England containing an incomplete copy of Arator's 'De Actibus Apostolorum'. The manuscript was probably written at the end of the 12th century, and has been dated as such by Ker and Watson. The work has also been dated to the 13th century by Borland and McKinlay.

The work is written in a gothic script with between 27-34 lines to a page. The manuscript is the work of several contemporary hands. McKinley has identified four different hands present throughout.

The contents are as follows:

Arator, 'Epistola ad Florianum'. Folio 1r.

Arator, 'Epistola ad Vigilium'. Folio 1r-1v.

Arator, 'De Actibus Apostolorum'. Folios 1v-41v.

A colophon in the margin of folio 41v reads 'Explicit Arator'.

There are marginal annotations throughout the work, most of which are scribal. There are infrequent annotations in a hand of the 17th century.

The manuscript has been deocrated with coloured capitals in blue or red. Each letter at the start of a line has been stroked with red, although this is less frequent towards the end of the volume.

Each folio has lining and ruling in hard point on both the recto and verso sides.

Pricking is evident for the horizontal lines.

There are contemporary repairs to the vellum throughout.


  • Creation: Late 12th century.


Conditions Governing Access

Normal access conditions apply.

Conditions Governing Use

Normal reproduction conditions apply, subject to any copyright restrictions.


1 Volumes ; 17.2cm x 12cm x 1.5cm

Language of Materials



i + 41 + ii folios, as well as one modern paper flyleaf to the front and one modern paper flyleaf to the rear.

Collation as recorded by Catherine Borland: abc⁸, d⁷ (imperfect), e¹⁰

Custodial History

The manuscript formed part of the collection of the library at the Cistercian Abbey of Byland. There is an ownership inscription for the Abbey in the upper margin of folio 1r which reads: 'Lib[er] S[ancte] M[arie] de Bella[landa]'.

Gilson notes that the volume is recorded in the ownership of Henry Savile of Banke (d. 1617). There is an ownership inscription in the upper margin of folio 1r of the cypher of Henry Savile which reads: 'Hnry Savil elder'. It is unclear how the manuscript came to be in Savile's possession, but Gilson, Watson, and Hicks suggest that it was passed on by his father, Henry Savile (d. 1607). They further suggest that John Nettleton (d. 1553) and Robert Barker (d. 1581) were likely owners of Byland manuscripts prior to the Saviles' ownership. However, there is no internal evidence to confirm this.

The manuscript was in the possession of Sir Robert Sibbald and was bought at the sale of his goods by the Library of the Faculty of Advocates in April 1723. An ownership inscription for the Library is present on the recto of folio i.

The previous shelfmark assigned to the item by the Library of the Faculty of Advocates is present on the recto of folio i, 'W.7.16', since superseded.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Presented, 1925, by the Faculty of Advocates to the nation on the foundation of the National Library of Scotland.


'Bibliotheca Sibbaldiana: or, a catalogue of valuable books: consisting of divinity, civil and ecclesiastical history, medicine, natural history, philosophy, mathematicks, belles letters, etc. with a curious collection of historical and other manuscripts. Being the Library fo the late Learned and Ingenious Sir Robert Sibbald of Kipps, Doctor of Medicine. To be Sold by Way of Auction, on Tuesday the 5th of February 1723...' (Edinburgh, 1722), page 140, number 23 .

Borland, C. R. 'Catalogue of Mediaeval Manuscripts in the Library of the Faculty of Advocates at Edinburgh', 4 Volumes. (Unpublished manuscript, Edinburgh, 1906-1908). Volume 3, folio 783. NLS Reference: FR.198a/3.

'Folio Catalogue of Manuscripts: Miscellaneous Manuscripts' (Unpublished manuscript, Edinburgh [after 1837]), folio 85. NLS Reference: FR.195.

Gilson, J. P. 'The library of Henry Savile, of Banke', in 'Transactions of the Bibliographical Society' Volume 9 (1906–8), pages 127–210.

Hicks, M. A. 'John Nettleton, Henry Savile of Banke, and the post-medieval vicissitudes of the Byland Abbey library', in 'Northern History' Volume 26 (1990), pages 212–217.

Ker, N. R. (ed.) 'Medieval Libraries of Great Britain: A List of Surviving Books' Second Edition (London, 1964), page 22.

McKinlay, A. P. (ed.) 'Arator: The Codices' (Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1942), page 42.

Schenkl, H. 'Bibliotheca Patrum Latinorum Britannica: Zweiten Bandes dritte Abtheilung, die schottischen Bibliotheken' (Wien, 1896), page 9.

'Summary Catalogue of the Advocates' Manuscripts' (Edinburgh, 1971), page 85, number 1032; page 101, number 1275.

Watson, A. G. 'The Manuscripts of Henry Savile of Banke' (London, 1969).

Physical Description


The volume was rebound in January 1938 in brown buckram with a dust flap over the head end. The front board is gold-tooled with a library stamp in the upper right corner. The spine has gold tooling for the shelfmark and title which reads: 'POEMATA SACRA. ARATOR'.

Folio i, probably an 18th-century flyleaf, is watermarked with letters which possibly read: 'H I'. Folio ii is unwatermarked.

National Library of Scotland Catalogue of Manuscripts
National Library of Scotland Archives and Manuscripts Division
Description rules
International Standard for Archival Description - General
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the National Library of Scotland Archives and Manuscripts Division Repository

Archives and Manuscript Division
National Library of Scotland
George IV Bridge
Edinburgh EH1 1EJ
0131 623 3700