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'Auchinleck manuscript', one of the earliest and largest compilations of Middle English verse, including romances and religious and historical pieces

Identifier: Adv.MS.19.2.1

Scope and Contents

The following description was based primarily upon the conclusions of Pearsall and Cunningham (1977) and Burnley and Wiggins (2003). The numbering system of the items follows that of Pearsall and Cunningham.

The Auchinleck manuscript was probably written in London at some point between 1331 and 1340. These dates can be assigned on the basis of palaeographical evidence and internal references. One of these references is the ending of the 'The Anonymous Short English Metrical Chronicle', which makes reference to the death of Edward II and has a prayer for the 'young King Edward', who assumed the throne in 1327 as King Edward III. Another internal reference is in the same Chronicle, in an account of how Lancelot held Guenevere in Nottingham Castle, which makes reference to Roger Mortimer and Queen Isabella barricading themselves in Nottingham Castle. The events described took place around the 18th of Ocrober 1330, and so it is unlikely that the manuscript was produced before 1331. The original patron of the work is unknown, but Pearsall and Cunningham (1977) have propsed that it was produced for a London merchant, while Hume (2016) suggests that it may have been compiled for a family or household audience.

The manuscript is one of the earliest and largest compilations of Middle English verse. Its contents are varied and include romances, lives of saints, and religious and historical works. In some cases the volume provides the only extant or the earliest extant source of a text. The works are written in Middle English, apart from occasional Anglo-Norman macaronics and Latin insertions.

Six scribes are involved, of whom scribe 1 is responsible for three-quarters of the production. He often acts as catchword-writer, but does not seem to have been the 'editor'. Close collaboration between these scribes is suggested by certain aspects of the make-up of the manuscript: the work of two or more scribes will often appear within the same gathering; catchwords written by one scribe will often precede gatherings written by another; a scribe, continuing a gathering, will at times use the ruling provided by a previous scribe. It does not seem that single gatherings were systematically allocated to individual scribes.

Scribe 1 wrote items 1-9, 11-13, 22-3, 26-31 and 33-43. His is a clear, legible bookhand.

Scribe 2 was responsible for items 10, 20 and 44. His is a formal bookhand, large except when using existing ruling in item 20.

Scribe 3 wrote items 14-19. His is a cursive bookhand, described by Parkes (1969), as an early idiosyncratic form of Anglicana Formata.

Scribe 4 wrote item 21. His is a square, formal bookhand.

Scribe 5 wrote items 24-25. His is a disjointed, irregular hand.

Scribe 6 wrote item 32. His is a bookhand similar in general appearance to that of Scribe 1, but with differences in letter forms.

Scribes 1, 3, and 5 separate the first letter of each line from the rest of the line; in all parts this first letter is picked out in red.

No prickmarks or other guides to ruling have survived. Ruling is in ink and was done by the scribe who was to write the gathering; it was done on both sides of the unfolded sheets. When there is a change of scribe within a gathering, the new scribe either uses or adapts the ruling.

Ruling is generally 44 lines to the column and texts are generally written in double columns. Exceptions to this format are the Battle Abbey Roll (in four columns folio 106r), The Legend of Pope Gregory (in long lines folio 6r), Þe Simonie (in long lines folio 334v), and the Speculum Gy de Warewyke (where Scribe 2 has provided his own ruling of 27 lines to the column rather than the usual 44, folio 39r).

The foliation is modern: in ink to folio 218, with traces of pencil numbers beneath and beside; thereafter in pencil, again with traces of other pencil numbers.

The various items in the volume have a contemporary numeration in lower-case roman numerals, written in the centre of the upper margin of each recto beginning with 'vi'; they have frequently been partially or totally cut off. These numbers are all written by the same hand, which appears to be that of scribe 1, though differences in the colour of ink suggest that they were added by him later.

Titles were added for most items. Only items 10, 20, 21, 39, and 40 have no title, apart from those whose beginning is lost in one way or another, but they seem to have been an afterthought. Titles and headings in items 8, 24 and 25 and the first four lines of item 40 are written in red, apparently by the rubricator. Latin quotations in item 10 are written in red by scribe 2 himself.

In the parts written by scribes 1, 3, 5 and 6, sub-sections of the poems are marked by paragraph signs, alternately red and blue. The signs were made by the rubricator following indications given by the scribes: a horizontal line by scribe 1, a sign resembling the letter 'q' by scribe 3, a short vertical mark by scribe 5 and two horizontal lines by scribe 6. Scribe 2 inserted his own paragraph signs in red. The different styles of paragraph signs, or paraphs, in the manuscript suggest that it was decorated as a unit within an atelier where several craftsmen worked. That the changes in style occur at new quires, rather than at the opening of a new poem or when a change of scribe occurs, indicates that craftsmen worked on the manuscript quire by quire.

In all parts except that of scribe 4 sections are marked by initials in blue with red ornamentation. The scribes often used guide letters. The initials are consistent in style, implying that they are the work of a single artist throughout the codex.

Originally the majority of items were preceded by miniatures. Item 40, written by scribe 1, has only a foliate inital, six lines high with marginal extensions, in blue on a gold and red background with brown and green leaves (folio 304r). Item 25, written by scribe 5, has only an historiated inital, six lines high with marginal extensions, in blue and red with a blue, grey and red figure on a diapered gold background and red and green leaves (folio 176r). Only the articles written by scribe 2 (10, 20, and 44) and scribe 4 (21), the first of those written by scribe 3 (14) and a short one written by scribe 1 (39) totally lack ornament at the beginning.

The folios on which begin items 1, 3, 6, 8, 9, 11, 12, 16, 18, 19, 22, 23, 28, 31, 33, 35, 38 and 42 are wholly or partly lost, and the removal may in many cases be ascribed to a desire for the miniature. The miniature alone has been cut out, and the hole later patched, in items 4, 5, 7, 13, 17, 26, 29, 30, 32, 34, 36, 37, and 41.

Five miniatures remain, though one of these has been defaced. They appear at: folio 7r, at the head of The King of Tars, measuring 31 x 62mm; folio 72r, at the head of The Paternoster, measuring 30 x 24mm; folio 167r, at the head of Reinbroun, measuring 68 x66 mm; folio 256v, at the head of Þe Wenche þat Loved a King, measuring 52x56 mm, now defaced; folio 326ra, at the head of King Richard, measuring 42 x 68 mm. The surviving miniatures are all of the same style and seem to be the work of a single artist. The issue of the production of these miniatures has provoked disagreement among art historians. Robinson (1972), Mordkoff (1981) and Shonk (1985) each propose that they were from the same atelier that produced the exquisite Queen Mary Psalter (British Library MS Royal 2.B.vii). However, this attribution has elsewhere been rejected on the grounds that the Auchinleck miniatures are of inferior quality to those of the Queen Mary Psalter (Hibbard Loomis, 1942).

The contents of the manuscript are as follows:

1. The Legend of Pope Gregory. Folios 1r-6v.

Folio 6a, thin stub.

2. The King of Tars. Folios 7r-13v.

Missing leaves here, fragment 'E', folios 1r-2v.

3. The Life of Adam and Eve. Folios 14r-16r.

4. Seynt Mergrete. Folios 16r-21r.

5. Seynt Katerine. Folios 21r-24v.

6. St Patrick's Purgatory and the Knight, Sir Owen. Folios 25r-31v.

7. þe desputisoun bitven þe bodi and þe soule. Folios 31v-35r stub.

8. The Harrowing of Hell. Folios ?35r-?37r or 37v stub.

9. The Clerk who would see the Virgin. Folios ?37r or 37v stub-38v.

10. Speculum Gy de Warewyke. Folios 39r-?48r stub.

11. Amis and Amiloun. Folios ?48r stub-?61v stub.

12. The Life of St Mary Magdalene. Folios ?61av stub-65v.

13. The Nativity and Early Life of Mary. Folios 65v-69v.

14. On the Seven Deadly Sins. Folios 70r-72r.

15. The Paternoster. Folios 72r-?72r or ?72v stub.

16. The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin. Folios ?72r or ?72v stub-78r.

17. Sir Degare. Folios 78r-?84r stub.

18. The Seven Sages of Rome. Folios ?84r stub-99v.

Gathering missing (circa 1400 lines of text).

19. Floris and Blancheflour. Foliso 100r-104v.

20. The Sayings of the Four Philosophers. Folios 105r-105r.

21. The Battle Abbey Roll. Folios 105v-107r.

Folio 107a, thin stub.

22. Guy of Warwick (couplets). Folios 108r-146v.

23. Guy of Warwick (stanzas). Folios 145v-167r.

24. Reinbroun. Folios 167r-175v.

Leaf missing.

25. Sir Beues of Hamtoun. Folios 176r-201r.

26. Of Arthour and of Merlin. Folios 201r-256v.

27. þe Wenche þat Loved þe King. Folios 256v-256a thin stub.

28. A Peniworþ of Witt. Folios 256a stub-259r.

29. How Our Lady's Sauter was First Found. Folios 259r-260v.

30. Lay le Freine. Folios 261r-262a thin stub.

31. Roland and Vernagu. Folios ?262v stub-267v.

32. Otuel a Knight. Folios 268r-277v.

Many leaves lost, but some recovered as fragments.

33. Kyng Alisaunder ('L' folio 1rv; 'S' A.15 folios 1r-2v; 'L' folio 2rv). Folios 278r-279r.

34. The Thrush and the Nightingale. Folio 279v.

35. The Sayings of St Bernard. Folio 280r.

36. Dauid þe King. Folios 280r-280v.

37. Sir Tristrem. Folios 281r-299a thin stub.

38. Sir Orfeo. Folios 299a stub-303r.

39. The Four Foes of Mankind. Folio 303rv.

40. The Anonymous Short English Metrical Chronicle. Folios 304r-317r.

41. Horn Childe and Maiden Rimnild. Folios 317v-323v.

Leaf missing.

42. Alphabetical Praise of Women. Folios 324r-325v.

43. King Richard. Folios 326r-327v. Missing fragments: 'E' folio 3rv; 'S' R.4 folios 1r-2v; 'E' folios 4rv.

Many leaves lost.

44. þe Simonie. Folios 328r-334v.

No regular system of signatures has survived in the manuscript. There are letters on some quires, written on the right-hand side of the lower margin of the recto side of folios, but these conform to no obvious pattern. The most clear examples of surviving signatures are on quires 19 and 22. The recto of folios from the first half of quire 19 have an 'h' and the recto of folios from the first half of quire 22 have a 'd', though on both quires sometimes only the top of the letter survives due to trimming. Also visible on the manuscript is an 'h' and the number 'iiij' at the foot of folio 58r (in quire 9) and a 'k' at the foot of folio 63r (in quire 10).

Thirty-seven catchwords survive in the manuscript, appearing in the lower right-hand corner of the verso side of the last folio of a quire. Thirty-six of these were written by Scribe 1. These include catchwords linking his own quires to those of Scribe 2 (on folio 38v), Scribe 3 (on folio 69v), Scribe 4 (on folio 107v) and Scribe 6 (on folio 267v) and linking quires successively written by Scribe 5 (folio 168v). The catchword on folio 99v has been the subject of disagreement. Bliss (1951), Pearsall and Cunningham (1977) and Mordkoff (1981) argue that it was written by Scribe 3, whereas Shonk (1985) asserts that, like the other catchwords, it was written by Scribe 1.


  • Creation: 1331 - 1340.


Language of Materials

Text in Middle English, with occasional macaronics and insertions in Anglo-Norman and Latin.

Conditions Governing Access

Access restricted. Please contact the division of Archives & Manuscript Collections to arrange access ( A digital surrogate is available.

Conditions Governing Use

Normal reproduction conditions apply, subject to any copyright restrictions.


1 Volumes ; 26.6cm x 23.3cm x 10cm


i-viii + 334 + ix-xiv folios, as well as 2 modern paper endleaves to the front and 2 modern paper endleaves to the rear.

Leaves and fragments of the manuscript survive elsewhere: four leaves in Edinburgh University Library (E), two leaves in the University of London Library (L) and four leaves in St Andrews University Library (S).

The manuscript is gathered in sections of eight leaves, only gathering 38 having ten. The flesh sides are placed on the outside of each gathering.

Collation as recorded by Ian Cunningham:

Folios 1-4: gathering 1⁸, wanting first 4 leaves

Folios 5-11: gathering 2⁸, 6a stub

Folios 12-15: gathering 3⁸, wanting 3,4,5,6; 2 of which are now 'E' folio 1 and 'E' folio 2

Folios 16-23: gathering 4⁸

Folios 24-30: gathering 5⁸, 24a stub

Folios 31-38: gathering 6⁸, 35 and 37 stubs

Folios 39-46: gathering 7⁸

Folios 47-54: gathering 8⁸, 48 stub

Folios 55-61a: gathering 9⁸, 61a stub

Folios 62-69: gathering 10⁸

Folios 70-76: gathering 11⁸, 72a stub

Folios 77-84: gathering 12⁸

Folios 84a-91: gathering 13⁸, 84a stub

Folios 92-99: gathering 14⁸

Gathering 15 missing

Folios 100-107: gathering 16⁸

Folios 107a-114: gathering 17⁸, 107a stub

Folios 115-120a: gathering 18⁸, 118a and 120a stubs

Folios 121-128: gathering 19⁸

Folios 129-136: gathering 20⁸

Folios 137-144: gathering 21⁸

Folios 145-152: gathering 22⁸

Folios 153-160: gathering 23⁸

Folios 161-168: gathering 24⁸

Folios 169-175: gathering 25⁸, wants 8

Folios 176-183: gathering 26⁸

Folios 184-190: gathering 27⁸, wants 6

Folios 191-198: gathering 28⁸

Folios 199-206: gathering 29⁸

Folios 207-214: gathering 30⁸

Folios 215-222: gathering 31⁸

Folios 223-230: gathering 32⁸

Folios 231-238: gathering 33⁸

Folios 239-246: gathering 34⁸

Folios 247-254: gathering 35⁸

Folios 255-260: gathering 36⁸, wants 1, 256a stub

Folios 261-267: gathering 37⁸, 262a stub

Folios 268-277: gathering 38¹⁰

Gathering 39 (and others) missing

Gathering 40⁸?: wants 1, 2; 3 = 'L' folio 1; 4 = 'S' A.15; 5 = 'S' 1.15; 6 = 'L' folio 2; wants 7, 8.

Folios 278-280: gathering 41⁸, wants 3,4,5,6,7

Folios 281-288: gathering 42⁸

Folios 289-296: gathering 43⁸

Folios 297-303: gathering 44⁸, 299a stub

Folios 304-311: gathering 45⁸

Folios 312-319: gathering 46⁸

Folios 320-325: gathering 47⁸, wants 3 and 6

Folios 326-327: gathering 48⁸, 2 = 'E' folio 3; wants 3; 4 = 'S' R.4; 5 = S R.4; wants 6; 7 = E f.4

Gatherings 49-51 (and others?) missing

Folios 328-334: gathering 52⁸, wants 8

Custodial History

Pearsall and Cunnigham (1977) propose that the manuscript was most likely produced for a London merchant, whilst Riddy suggests that Auchinleck may have been produced for a wealthy woman.

Throughout the manuscript there are names inscribed in the margins and occasionally between the text. The names could be those of possible former owners, but their relationship to the manuscript is unclear.

From the fourteenth or fifteenth centuries are five names all appearing on folio 183r: 'William Barnes', possibly 'Richard Drow', 'William Dro...', 'Anthony Elcocke', 'John Ellcocke'.

From the same period are the names of eight members of the Browne family, all written in the same hand on folio 107r: 'Mr Thomas Browne', 'Mrs Isabell Browne', 'Katherin Browne', 'Eistre Browne', 'Elizabeth Browne', 'William Browne', 'Walter Browne', 'Thomas Browne'.

It should be noted that on the St Andrews fragments, from quire 48, is written: 'Walter Brown'.

There is a 16th-century inscription on folio 107v which possibly reads: 'William Gisslort'. From the seventeenth century, on folio 300r, is 'John'. And from the eighteenth century are 'Christian Gunter' on folio 205r, and 'John Harreis' on folio 247r.

The Auchinleck Manuscript was presented to the Library of the Faculty of Advocates in 1744 by Alexander Boswell, Lord Auchinleck, and as recorded in an inscription on folio 1r. It is not known exactly how the manuscript came into Boswell's possession, but it was certainly in his possession by 1740, as his signature appears on the recto of folio vi with this date.

Scholars have suggested that it is probable that the manuscript came to Scotland before 1740 and that it was acquired by Boswell here rather than brought to Scotland by him. This suggestion is supported by the location of a number of fragments from the manuscript that were used as notebook covers by an unidentified St Andrews professor. It may be that this connection with the University of St Andrews implies that Auchinleck may have been owned by a scholar there in the early eighteenth century.

The previous shelfmark assigned to the manuscript by the Library of the Faculty of Advocates was 'W.4.1', 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.

Existence and Location of Copies

A digital surrogate is available to view here.

Related Materials

Adv.MS.19.2.1 a: a typescript, 1908, of a transcription of the two missing leaves from the Romance of King Richard in the Auchinleck Manuscript, now in Edinburgh University Library. 15 numbered pages.

Adv.MS.19.2.1 b: Notes, 1792, by J. Ritson on the Auchinleck Manuscript, formerly bound in at the beginning of the volume. Headed "J. Ritson of London Esqrs Observations on a MS. in the Advocates Library Edinb. 1792." Seemingly a slightly later copy made on paper dated 1794 and 1799.

Adv.MS.19.2.1 c: the manuscript's nineteenth-century red leather binding.

MS.8894: a collection of ultraviolet photographs of leaves removed from and of a defaced page of the Auchinleck Manuscript.


Bliss, A. J. 'The Auchinleck "St. Margaret" and "St. Katherine"', Notes and Queries, Volume 201 (1956), pages 186-188.

Bliss, A. J. 'Notes on the Auchinleck Manuscript', Speculum, Volume 26 (1951), pages 652-658.

Bly, S. M. 'The Auchinleck Manuscript and the Problems of Imagining Englishness in the Early Fourteenth Century', (Unpublished PhD thesis, University of Notre Dame, 2002).

Boffey, J. and A. S. G. Edwards. 'A New Index of Middle English Verse' (London, 2005).

Borland, C. R. 'Catalogue of the Mediaeval Manuscripts in the Library of the Faculty of Advocates at Edinburgh', 4 volumes (Unpublished manuscript, 1906-8), Volume III, folios 601-626. NLS Reference: FR.198a/3.

Burnley, D. and A. Wiggins. 'The Auchinleck Manuscript' (2003), online resource hosted by the National Library of Scotland:

Burrows, J. H. 'The Auchinleck Manuscript: Contexts, Texts and Audience' (Unpublished PhD thesis, Washington University, Saint Louis MO, 1984).

Calkin, S. B. 'Saracens and the Making of English Identity: The Auchinleck Manuscript' (New York, 2005).

Cannon, C. 'Chaucher and the Auchinleck Manuscript Revisited', Chaucer Review, Volume 46 (20199), pages 131-146.

Cooper, H. 'Lalcelot, Roger Mortimer and the Date of the Auchinleck Manuscript', in A. M. D'Arcy and A. J. Fletcher (eds.) 'Studies in Late Medieval and Early Renaissance Texts in Honour of John Scattergood (Dublin, 2005), pages 91-99.

Cunningham, I. C. 'Notes on the Auchinleck Manuscript', Speculum, Volume 47 (1972), pages 96-98.

Cunningham, I. C. 'Binding', in D. Pearsall and I. C. Cunningham (eds.) 'The Auchinleck Manuscript: National Library of Scotland Advocates' MS.19.2.1' (London, 1979), page xvi.

Cunningham, I. C. 'Physical Description', in D. Pearsall and I. C. Cunningham (eds.) 'The Auchinleck Manuscript: National Library of Scotland Advocates' MS.19.2.1' (London, 1979), pages xi-xiv.

Cunningham, I. C. 'Script and Ornament', in D. Pearsall and I. C. Cunningham (eds.) 'The Auchinleck Manuscript: National Library of Scotland Advocates' MS.19.2.1' (London, 1979), pages xv-xvi.

Cunningham, I. C. and J. E. C. Mordkoff. 'New Light on the Signatures in the Auchinleck Manuscript', Scriptorium, Volume 36 (1982), pages 280-292.

Dennison, L. '"Liber Horn", "Liber Custumarum" and Other Manuscripts in the Queen Mary Psalter Workshops' in L. Grant (ed.) 'Medieval Art, Architecture and Archaeology in London', British Archaeological Association Conference Transactions, 10 (London, 1990), pages 118-134.

'English Literature: An Exhibition of Manuscripts and of First and other Early Editions' (Edinburgh, 1962), page 1, number 1.

Evans, M. J. 'Rereading Middle English Romance: Manuscript Layout, Decoration and the Rhetoric of Composite Structure' (Montreal and Kingston, 1995).

Fein, S. 'The Fillers of the Auchinleck Manuscript and the Literary Culture of the West Midlands' in C. M. Meale and D. Pearsall (eds.) 'Makers and Users of Medieval Books: Essays in Honour of A. S. G. Edwards' (Cambridge, 2014), pages 60-77.

Fein, S. (ed.) 'The Auchinleck Manuscript: New Perspectives' (York, 2016).

Guddat-Figge, G. 'Catalogue of Manuscripts Containing Middle English Romances' (Munich, 1976), number 23, pages 121-126.

Hanna, R. 'Reconsidering the Auchinleck Manuscript' in D. Pearsall (ed.) 'New Directions in Later Medieval Manuscript Studies: Essays from the 1998 Harvard Conference', pages 91-102.

Jacobs, N. 'Sir Degarré, Lay le Freine, Beves of Hamtoun and the "Auchinleck Bookshop"', Notes and Queries, Volume 227 (1982), pages 294-301.

Kölbing, E. 'Vier romanzen-handschriften', Englische Studien, 7 (1884), pages 177-201.

Loomis, L. H. 'The Auchinleck Manuscript and a Possible London Bookshop of 1330-1340', PMLA, 57 (1942), pages 595-627. Reprinted in Loomis, L. H. 'Adventures in the Middle Ages' (New York, 1962), pages 150-187.

Loomis, L.H. 'The Auchinleck "Roland and Vernagu" and the "Short Chronicle"', Modern Language Notes, 60 (1945), pages 94-97.

Loomis, L.H. 'Chaucer and the Auchinleck MS: "Thopas" and "Guy of Warwick"', in Essays and Studies in Honor of Carleton Brown (New York, 1940), pages 111-128.

Loomis, L.H. 'Chaucer and the Breton Lays of the Auchinleck MS', Studies in Philology, 38 (1941), pages 14-33.

Macrae-Gibson, O. D. 'Walter Scott, the Auchinleck Manuscript and MS Douce 124', Neophilologus Mitteilungen, Volume 50 (1966), pages 449-454.

Marshall, H. 'What's in a Paraph? A New Methodology and Its Implications for the Auchinleck Manuscript', Journal of the Early Book Society, 13 (2010), pages 39-62.

Mooney L. R., et al. 'The Digital Index of Middle English Verse', online resource:

Mordkoff, J. C. 'The Making of the Auchinleck Manuscript: The Scribes at Work' (Unpublished PhD thesis, University of Connecticut, Storrs CT, 1981).

Pearsall, D. and I. C. Cunningham (eds.) 'The Auchinleck Manuscript: National Library of Scotland Advocates' MS 19.2.1' (London, 1979)

Pearsall, D. 'Contents of the Manuscript', in D. Pearsall and I. C. Cunningham (eds.) 'The Auchinleck Manuscript: National Library of Scotland Advocates' MS 19.2.1' (London, 1979), pages vii-xi.

Pearsall, D. 'Literary and Historical Significance of the Manuscript', in D. Pearsall and I. C. Cunningham (eds.) 'The Auchinleck Manuscript: National Library of Scotland Advocates' MS 19.2.1' (London, 1979), pages vii-xi.

Porcheddu, F. 'Editing the Auchinleck: Textual Criticism and the Reconstruction of a Medieval Manuscript' (Unpublished PhD thesis, Ohio State University, 1994).

Porcheddu, F. 'Edited Text and Medieval Artifact: The Auchinleck Bookshop and "Charlemagne and Roland" Theories, Fifty Years Later', Philological Quarterly, Volume 80 (2001), pages 465-503.

Robinson, P. R. 'A Study of Some Aspects of the Transmission of English Verse in Late Mediaeval Manuscripts' (Unpublished B Litt thesis, University of Oxford, Oxford, 1972).

Robinson, P. R. 'The "Booklet": A Self-Contained Unit of Composite Manuscripts', Codicologica, Volume 3 (1980), pages 49-69.

Runde, E. 'Reexamining Orthographic Practice in the Auchinleck Manuscript through Study of Complete Scribal Corpora', in R. Cloutier et al. (eds.) 'Variation and Change in English Grammar and Lexicon: Contemporary Approaches (Berlin, 2010), pages, 265-287.

Shonk, T. A. 'A Study of the Auchinleck Manuscript: Investigations into the Processes of Book Making in the Fourteenth Century' (Unpublished PhD thesis, University of Tennessee, Knoxville TN, 1981)

Shonk, T. A. 'The Scribe as Editor: The Primary Scribe of the Auchinleck Manuscript', Manuscripta, Volume 27 (1983), pages 19-20.

Shonk, T. A. 'A Study of the Auchinleck Manuscript: Bookmen and Bookmaking in the Early Fourteenth Century', Speculum, Volume 60 (1985), pages 71-91.

Smithers, G. V. 'Two Newly-Discovered Fragments frmo the Auchinleck MS', Medium Aevum, Volume 18 (1949), pages 1-11.

Smithers, G. V. 'Another Fragment of the Auchinleck MS', in D. A. Pearsall and R. A. Waldron (eds.) 'Medieval Literature and Civilization: Studies in Memory of G. N. Garmonsway' (London, 1969), pages 192-209.

Smyser, H. M. '"Charlemagne and Roland" and the Auchinleck MS', Speculum, Volume 21 (1946), pages 275-288.

Smyser, H. M. 'The List of Norman Names and the Auchinleck Bookshop' in U.T. Holmes and A. J. Denomy (eds.) 'Medieval Studies in Honor of Jeremiah Denis Matthias Ford' (Cambridge MA, 1948), pages 257-287.

'Summary Catalogue of the Advocates' Manuscripts' (Edinburgh, 1971), page 88, number 1091; page 102, number 1288.

Thomson, J.J. 'Love reading?' Poetica, volumes 91 and 92 (2019), pages 93-104 and plate 5.

'Treasures from Scottish Libraries: Catalogue of an Exhibition held in the Library of Trinity College Dublin, 3 July - 1 August 1964' (Edinburgh, 1964), page 9, number 23.

'Treasures of the National Library of Scotland' (Edinburgh, 1979), page 7, number 5.

Turville-Petre, T. 'England the Nation: Language, Literature and National Identity, 1290-1340' (Oxford, (1996), especially chapter 4, 'English in the Auchinleck Manuscript', pages 108-141.

Vaughan, M. F. 'Chaucer's "Canterbury Tales" and the Auchinleck MS: Analogus Collections?', Archiv, Volum 242 (2005), pages 259-274.

Walpole, R. N. 'The Source MS of Charlemagne and Roland and the Auchinleck Bookshop', Modern Language Notes, Volume 60 (1945), pages 22-26.

Weiss, J. 'The Auchinleck Manuscript and the Edwardes Manuscripts', Notes and Queries, Volume 214 (1969), pages 444-446.

Wiggins, A. 'Guy of Warwick: Study and Transcription', unpublished PhD thesis, University of Sheffield (2000).

Wiggins, A. 'Are Auchinleck Scribes 1 and 6 the Same Scribe?: The Advantages of Whole-Data Analysis and Electronic Texts', Medium Aevum, Volume 73 (2004), pages 10-26.

Wiggins, A. 'Imagining the Compiler: "Guy of Warwick" and the Compilation of the Auchinleck Manuscript' in S. Kelly and J. J. Thompson (eds.) 'Imagining the Book' (Turnhout, 2005), pages 61-73.

Yeaman, L. H. 'The Problem of the Relationship of Three Early Middle English Lays in the Auchinleck Manuscript' (Unpublished MA thesis, Wellesley College, 1921).

Physical Description


The present binding is at least the third in the manuscript’s history. The first is known only from sewing holes which show that the volume had been sewn on six raised cords. Whether this was the original binding, and what caused its replacement, is unknown. That this binding is not the original is indicated by pencil notes in the manscuript which show that in the 18th century the sheets of gathering 47 were disarranged and one was already missing.

Cunningham suggests that in the first half of the 19th century, probably in the 1820s, the volume was rebound. The vellum was repaired in places and the volume was sewn on five single recessed cords, the first four and last six leaves being oversewn. The seventh last, although belonging with those following, was pasted to folios 326-327. Six endpapers and a paste-down of vellum were used at both front and back, and at the front an older paper endpaper with inscription was included. The boards were of very thick millboard, bevelled at the edges. The headbands were green, white and red thread on two flat strips of vellum, tied down at five points. The back was hollow, with five double bands made from strips of leather. The cover was full red morocco, and the mitring covered with strips of the same leather. The title was stamped on the spine in gilt, but there was no other decoration.

By 1971 the cords had broken and the cover was worn, and rebinding was carried out by HMSO Bindery, Edinburgh. The boards, cover and headbands of the previous binding have been preserved, and the endpapers reused. Instead of sewing the gatherings directly, each gathering has been sewn to a guard of equal thickness, and the guards sewn on five recessed cords; this means that the construction of the volume can be inspected and that it can be opened flat more readily. The back is hollow, with five single bands, and the cover full brown morocco, lettered in gilt.

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
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