A catalogue of Western manuscripts at the Bodleian Libraries and selected Oxford colleges

MS. Ashmole 1431

Summary Catalogue no.: 7523

Herbal with Old English glosses; St Augustine’s, Canterbury, 1070s × 1090s


Language(s): Latin

(fol. *1r–v)

Blank apart from added 15th-century inscription.

(fol. 3r)
Precantatio herbae
Rubric: In nomine domini incipit herboralium apuleii platonis quod accept a scolapio et chirone centauro magistro lege feliciter.
Incipit: Precantatio omnium herbarum ad singulas curas uel remedia posuimus quemadmodum debeant legi.
Explicit: propter quod te per sanctum nomen dei adiuro sabaoth. minuente luna medicamen inponis.
eTK 1081E
(fol. 3r)
Precantatio herbae
Rubric: Incipit precantatio eiusdem herbe.
Incipit: Veniens ad herbam quę tibi necessaria
Explicit: etiam iamozato. min anima caua me.
eTK 1683L
Ps.-Antonius Musa, De herba uettonica
(fol. 3r–v)
Rubric: Incipit epistula antonii muse ad agrippam de herba betonica. quantas uirtutes habeat.
Incipit: ⟨A⟩ntonius musa⹎ marco agrippe salutem. Cesari augusto⹎ prestantissimo omnium sed et iudicibus ipsius.
Explicit: Et cum uolueris⹎ sic uteris.
Ed. Howald and Sigerist, pp. 3-4. eTK 0112D
(fols. 3v–4r)
Rubric: Incipit uirtutes uel curatio herbę betonicę. que habet medicamina numero quadraginta et septem.
Incipit: A grecis dicitur briontes. Alii cestros. Alii coronę.
Explicit: qui te iussit creari et remediis plurimis adesse.

Ed. Howald and Sigerist, pp. 10–11.

(fols. 4r–5r)
Rubric: i· Ad fracturam capitis.
Incipit: Herba betonica contusa ^et capiti^ inposita. uulnus celeriter conglutinat et sanat.
Explicit: optime sanare dicimus.
Final rubric: Explicit de uirtutibus herbę betonicę.

Ed. Howald and Sigerist, pp. 4–10.

Ps.-Apuleius, Herbarium
(fol. 5r)
Rubric: Incipit aliud herborarium apuleii platonis.
Rubric: Epistula eiusdem ad conciues suos de herba plantagine quantas uirtutes habeat. et quę medicamina corporibus humanis prestet.
Incipit: Apuleius plato ad conciues suos. Ex plurbius paucas uires herbarum et curationes corporum
Explicit: nostra litterata scientia inuitis etiam medicis profuisse uideatur.
Final rubric: Explicit epistula.
Ed. Howald and Sigerist, p. 15. eTK 0117D
(fols. 5r–31v)
Rubric: nomina herbarum arnoglosse.
Incipit: A grecis dicitur arnoglossa. Alii hermion. Alii probatio
Explicit: Radices eius siccę reseruantur pluribus usibus profuture;
Final rubric: Liber medicine platonis. herbaticus explicit.
Ed. Howald and Sigerist, pp. 22–225.
(fols. 31v–43r)
Ps.-Dioscorides, Liber medicinae ex herbis femininis
Rubric: Incipit liber dioscoridis ex herbis feminis. Nomen herbę sephram.
Incipit: Nascitur in montuosis et lapidosis locis. et arenosis
Explicit: Item succus ejus dolore aurium instillatus sedat et curat.

The last herb painted is ‘spueritis’ at fol. 36v; the last title is written in capitals (with ink, not in red): ‘Nomen herbe Aperina’.

Part of the final leaf is cut away.

eTK 0899M eTK 0915G
(fols. 5r–42v)
Interlinear and marginal glosses to fifty-seven names of herbs and the diseases for which they are remedies
Language(s): Old English
Incipit: ƿægbrada
(for ‘plantago’)
Explicit: banece
(for ‘sciaticis’)

Added in the twelfth century.

(fol. 43v)

Blank, with added pen trials and an unfinished diagram of concentric circles.

Physical Description

Form: codex
Support: parchment
Extent: viii (modern paper) + 1 (medieval flyleaf, fol. *1) + 2 (binding fragment) + 41 + v (modern paper) leaves
Dimensions (leaf): 235 × 150 mm.
Foliation: Modern ink foliation.


1one (fol. *1, enfolding fols. 1–2) | 22 (fols. 1–2) | 38 (fols. 3–10), 48–2 (fols. 11–16; 2nd and 3rd excised), 5–68 (fols. 17–32), 710 (fols. 33–42); 82–1 (fol. 43; 1st excised).


Ruled in drypoint, 32–41 long lines, ruled space 175 × 110 mm.


English Caroline minuscule. Ker, English manuscripts in the century after the Norman Conquest (1960), p. 30, classifies this as an example of the ‘Christ Church script’ used at St Augustine’s. Dodwell, The Canterbury school of illumination, 1066–1200 (1954), p. 26, suggests that the hand can also be found in Cambridge, Trinity College, MS. O.2.51, part 2 (Priscian). Gameson, ‘English manuscript art in the late eleventh century: Canterbury and its context’, pp. 114, 125 affirms this, suggesting also that the artist might be the same as Durham, Cathedral Library, MS B.II.16.


Each section opens with coloured illustrations of plants. (Pächt and Alexander iii. 50, pl. VI)

Illustrations not executed from the middle of fol. 36v onwards, with only space left by the scribe.

Names of plants in red.


Brown tanned calf over laminated pulpboard. Rebacked 30 May 1959.


Origin: 1070s × 1090s ; English, Canterbury, St. Augustine’s

Appears in the St Augustine’s catalogues: B.C. Barker-Benfield, St Augustine’s Abbey, Canterbury (London, 2008), 1:5n4, 1:6, 2:1204, 3:1747, 3:1801, 3:1820. Inscribed in a 15th-century hand, ‘Herboralium Apuleii Platonis. De librario sancti Augustini Cantuar. D 14 Gª 2º’ (fol. *1v). (Cf. MLGB3: evidence from an ex-libris inscription or note of gift to an institution.)

Provenance and Acquisition

Elias Ashmole (1617–1692): bequeathed by him to the Ashmolean Museum.

Transferred to the Bodleian Library in 1860.

MS. Ashmole 1431, fols. 1–2

Bifolium from a choir breviary; English, 14th century


(fols. 1r–2v)
Breviary, Use of Sarum

From the temporale: portions of the offices of the Circumcision, the octave of St Stephen, and the vigil and feast of the Epiphany (1–6 January).

Language(s): Latin
(fol. 2r)
Matthew Parker, The whole Psalter translated into English Metre (Quotations added in the upper margin in the 16th century.)
"O Lorde in the is all my trust | geve eare vnto my wofull"
"When shall my sorowfull sighinge slake when shall m"
Language(s): English

Physical Description

Form: codex
Support: parchment
Extent: 2 leaves
Dimensions (leaf): 233 × 152 mm.


Ruled in ink. 2 columns of 38 lines, ruled space 157 × 100 mm.


Gothic textualis.


Blue initials with red penwork.



Origin: 14th century ; England


    Printed descriptions:

    S. J. P. van Dijk, Latin Liturgical Manuscripts in the Bodleian Library, Oxford, vol. 6: Fragments - Office Books, Rituals, Directories (typescript, 1957), p. 256

Additional Information

Record Sources

Description by Andrew Dunning (September 2022). Previously described in the Quarto Catalogue (W. H. Black, A descriptive, analytical, and critical catalogue of the manuscripts bequeathed unto the University of Oxford by Elias Ashmole Esq., Quarto Catalogues X, 1845). Decoration, localization and date follow Pächt and Alexander (1973).

Digital Images

Digital Bodleian (full digital facsimile)
Digital Bodleian (37 images from 35mm slides)


A. N. Doane, Anglo-Saxon Manuscripts in Microfiche Facsimile (Binghamton, NY: Arizona Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies, 2001), vol. 9: Deluxe and Illustrated Manuscripts Containing Technical and Literary Textss


Last Substantive Revision

2022-09-28: Andrew Dunning Revised with consultation of original.