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

MS. Auct. F. 4. 32

Summary Catalogue no.: 2176

St Dunstan's Classbook

Liber commonei

codex Oxoniensis prior

‘St Dunstan's Classbook’: four manuscripts written 9th-11th century in Brittany, Wales and England

Physical Description

Four separate manuscripts (fols. 1–9 || fols. 10–18 || fols. 19–36 || fols. 37–47) of which three (I, III, IV) contain additions (fols. 1r, 20r, 36, 37r, 47r) by the same hand (‘Hand D’), usually identified as that of St Dunstan. (For the corpus attributed to this hand, see in particular Budny, ‘‘St Dunstan’s Classbook’’, pp. 137–141.)
Form: codex
Extent: ii + i + 47 + i folios, foliated i-ii (fol. iii unfoliated), 1–48.
Foliation: Foliation (1–47) by Gerard Langbaine.


Russia leather, mid-19th-century.


Provenance and Acquisition

Parts I, III and IV perhaps together at Glastonbury Abbey in the time of St Dunstan.

The four parts of the volume perhaps, as argued by Hunt, first brought together at Glastonbury Abbey in the late fifteenth or early sixteenth century as part of a renewed interest in local saints.

Acquired at an unknown date by Thomas Allen (1542–1632).

Given by him to the Bodleian in 1601 (Summary Catalogue I, p. 80): fol. 1r, ‘Tho. Allen D(ono) D(edit)’.

MS. Auct. F. 4. 32 – Part I (fols. 1–9)


Language(s): Latin

(fol. 1r)

Originally blank. Added three-quarter length image of Christ, with kneeling monk at his feet, in brown ink, see Decoration. Above the monk a distich written by hand D asking for Christ's protection for ‘Dunstan’.

(fol. 1v)

Note on Eutyches

Rubric: (first line in capitals) In honomate sumitonantis ars euticis gramatici | incipit
Incipit: De nomine auctoris huius libri multi dubitant utrum euticius an eutex dicitur
Explicit: uictus fuisset
(fol. 1v)
(text continues without a break)
Incipit: Theodocius dicit De coniugationibus apud grecos iii sunt coniugationes uerborum qua\o/rum prima positione
Explicit: litterae precidunt finalem .o.

Extract from Macrobius, De differentiis et societatibus, probably with independent circulation; cf. P. de Paolis, Macrobii Theodosii De verborum Graeci et Latini differentiis vel societatibus excerpta (1990), test. 1 (p. 172), lines 1–11 (closest to the present text), and test. 4 (p. 177); cf. ibid., pp. 21–23 ( = Keil, Grammatici Latini V. 601–2) for the same passage in context of the whole work.

(fol. 1v)

Added distich by hand D, the first two lines of Eugenius of Toledo, De bono pacis (see Lapidge in Anglia 98 (1980), 106).

2. (fols. 2r-9v)
Eutyches, Ars de uerbo
Rubric: (in capitals) Incipit ars Euticis de discernendis coniugationibus
Incipit: (prologue) (in capitals) Cum semper noua questiones doctoribus
Incipit: (text) TRES quidem sunt coniugationum species apud grecos

As pr. Keil, Grammatici Latini V.447–60 (ends imperfect at l. 36 of the printed text, ‘semino . as . memor . memoro . as .’).

Jeudy, ‘Manuscrits de l'Ars de Verbo d'Eutychès et le commentaire de Rémi d'Auxerre’, p. 430.

Syntactical glossing marks.

Marginal and interlinear glosses in Latin and Breton: mostly written by the scribe, some added 9th and 10th centuries (Bischoff). The first marginal glosses on the text are:

Incipit: (inexcussabilis) Cudo cusi . excuro. as. excuraui tum ire
Incipit: (necessitas) A necesse . necessitas quasi nec & esse . Necessitas imperii . necessitudo sanguinis
Breton glosses pr. W[hitley] S[tokes] in Trans. Philological Society (1860–1), 232–6, 292–3.
Language(s): Latin and Old Breton

Physical Description

Form: codex
Support: parchment
Dimensions (leaf): 250 × 180 mm.


1(8, +1 before fol. 2)


Folded before ruling in drypoint four at a time. Written in 27 long lines, written space c. 195 × 125 mm. .


Caroline minuscule (fols. 1v-9).

Fol. 1r: inscriptions on the image in Anglo-Saxon minuscule; inscription under the image in English caroline minuscule.


Pächt and Alexander i. 421; iii. 24, pl. II:

Coloured initials.

Added, fol. 1r, important drawing, possibly by St. Dunstan (inscription in the first person). Drawing of a part-length figure of Christ, holding rod or staff in his right hand (inscribed ‘uirga recta est’, ‘uirga regni tui’, Ps. 44.7), and book or tablet in his left hand (inscribed ‘Uenite | filii au|dite me timorem | domini docebo uos’, Ps. 34.11). Kneeling monk at his feet, identified as ‘Dunstanus’ in verses above. Budny (‘‘St Dunstan’s Classbook’’, pp. 140–2) has identified the script on Christ’s emblems with that of a contemporary copy of a Glastonbury charter of 949, and argued that Dunstan was not its original draughtsman but was responsible for later alterations.


Origin: 9th century, second quarter or middle; added drawing, mid-10th century (?) ; French, Brittany ; additions, England


For dating and localization of the original core see Bischoff, Katalog, no. 3774 (‘Bretagne unter Tours-Einfluß’).

In England probably by the mid-tenth century (drawing and additions by hand D).

Identifiable as a fragment of the ‘duo libri Euticis de uerbo. uetestiss⟨imi⟩’ recorded in the Glastonbury Abbey catalog of 1247/8 (English Benedictine Libraries, The Shorter Catalogues, B39.312).

Seen by Leland at Glastonbury Abbey between 1536 and 1540: ‘Grammatica Euticis, liber olim S. Dunstani’ (English Benedictine Libraries, The Shorter Catalogues, B44.9; also Carley in Scriptorium 40/1 (1986), 114, no. 9).

MS. Auct. F. 4. 32 – Part II (fols. 10–18)


1. (fols. 10–18)
Homily on the Invention of the Cross

Cameron B3.3.6; pr. R. Morris, Legends of the Holy Rood, EETS os 46 (1871), 3–17; M-C. Bodden, The Old English Finding of the True Cross (Woodbridge, 1987).

Language(s): Old English

Physical Description

Form: codex
Support: parchment (HFHF)
Dimensions (leaf): 245 × 155–160 mm.


1(8, +1 after fol. 17)


1 col., 20 lines; written space c. 215 × 120 mm.


Anglo-Saxon minuscule with some Caroline features by one scribe, with some later corrections and alterations.


Origin: 11th century, second half ; English


A vertical crease along the middle indicates that the manuscript was formerly folded.

‘LXXIII’, fol. 10r top, 12th century (?).

MS. Auct. F. 4. 32 – Part III (fols. 19–36)


‘Liber Commonei’ (computistical, theological and liturgical compilation; cf. Lapidge & Sharpe 83)
(fol. 19r-v)

Text continues from fol. 36r; see below.

(fol. 20r lines 1–15)

Paragraph on number, from Isidore, Etymologies, III.7.3–6.

Incipit: Numeri linialis
Explicit: quiquies xxv cxxv
(fol. 20r lines 16–25)

Alphabet of Nemnivus, as ed. R. Derolez, Runica manuscripta (1954), pp. 157–9.

(fol. 20r lines 26–29)

Two paragraphs on the dating of Easter; addition by ‘hand D’.

(fol. 20v)

Table of the course of the moon through the Zodiac, as in Bede, De temporum ratione, c. xix.

Lunar table (‘Quot horis luna luceat’).

(fol. 21r)

Paschal table for the years 817–835

(fol. 21v)

Commentary or quaestio (unidentified) on Colossians 2.14; Lapidge & Sharpe 88.

Rubric: De questione apostoli
Incipit: Delens quod aduersum nos erat chyrographym decreti. Quod chyrographum commemorat hic apostolus
Explicit: (fol. 21va) uigilat primum filium quod non fuit in se diuinitas
(fol. 22r-v)
Rubric: Incipit paruum experimentum de luna
Incipit: Sciendum nobis quod abortiua luna et xiiii luna

Treatise ‘De abortiua luna’, apparently derived from the anonymous Irish De ratione computandi, c. 73 (Cummian's Letter De Controversia Paschali and the De ratione computandi, ed. M. Walsh and D. O Croinin (Toronto, 1988), pp. 89 n. 237, 180–4).

Between the rubric and incipit is a brief extract from the Cursus paschalis of Victorius of Aquitaine (MGH Auct. ant. IX, p. 682, ll. 8–10), as noted by Walsh and O Croinin, pp. 177–8, note to c. 69.

(fol. 22v, lower half)

Gloss to following item.

(fols. 23r-v)
Victorius of Aquitaine, Calculus (extracts)
Rubric: Incipiunt pauca excerpta de mensuris calculi. Olearia incipiunt.

Cf. edition by G. Friedlin, Zeitschrift f. Mathematik u. Physik 16 (1871) 58–78, at pp. 72–6; (fol. 23v) table of signs for weights, cf. F. Hultsch, Metrologicorum scriptorum reliquiae II (1866), sect. 133, pp. 127–9; multiplication table, continuing to fol. 24r margin, Friedlin, pp. 69–70.

Glosses in Latin and Old Welsh, the latter ed. I. Williams in Bulletin of the Board of Celtic Studies 5 (1929–31), 226–48.

(fols. 24r-36r, 19r-v)

Liturgical lessons and canticles in Greek and Latin.

(fols. 24–28v)
Rubric: Incipiunt pauca testimonia de prophetarum libris per grecam ling⟨uam⟩

Readings for an unknown occasion (but probably related to the Eastertide liturgy) from the Minor Prophets; pr. Haddan and Stubbs, Councils and Ecclesiastical Documents (1869) i.192–7 (not in the order of the manuscript); Lapidge & Sharpe 118(i).

(fols. 28v-35v, 36r, 19r-v)

Lessons and canticles for the Easter Vigil (Greek text transliterated); pr. B. Fischer in Colligere fragmenta: festschrift Alban Dold (1952), 144–59; Lapidge & Sharpe 118(ii). Fol. 36 is a replacement leaf supplied by ‘hand D’.

Language(s): Latin, Greek, and Old Welsh

MS. Auct. F. 4. 32 – Part III (fols. 19–36): fols. 19–35

Physical Description

Form: codex
Support: parchment
Dimensions (leaf): 250 × 180 mm.


18 leaves; the outermost bifolium (fols. 19, 35) reversed from its original position (fol. 19 originally followed fol. 35); fol. 33 is a singleton formed of two pieces joined horizontally by two short vellum thongs threaded through (made before the parchment was used).


1–2 cols., column space c. 205–215 × 60–80 mm. , c. 28–40 lines but layout is variable.


Welsh insular minuscule, with some half-uncial; Greek text in uncial.


Pächt and Alexander iii. 10:

Good initials.

Coloured initials, rubrics.


Origin: 817 × 835 (?) ; Welsh


Fol. 19v (properly the final page, but now misplaced): ‘Finit opus in domino o thei quiri altissimo meo patre commoneo scriptum simul ac magistro’.

Easter table for 817–35, fol. 21r; pricking holes against the year 817 sometimes interpreted as evidence of the date of writing, but regarded by Budny as simply part of the pricking for the page layout.

In England (Glastonbury Abbey?) by the tenth century when fol. 36r added by ‘hand D’, fol. 36r; perhaps at the abbey since the time of St Dunstan.

MS. Auct. F. 4. 32 – Part III (fols. 19–36): fol. 36, replacement leaf added by hand D

Physical Description

Form: codex
Support: parchment
Dimensions (leaf): 160 × 145 mm.


English caroline minuscule.


Origin: 10th century, middle ; England

MS. Auct. F. 4. 32 – Part IV (fols. 37–47)


1. (fols. 37r-47r)
Ovid, Ars Amatoria (bk. 1)

Fol. 47r is a replacement leaf by hand D.

Language(s): Latin

Latin and Old Welsh interlinear glosses, mostly in a hand resembling the main text (fols. 37v-42r, 45r-v). Syntactical glossing marks.

Language(s): Latin and Old Welsh
Welsh glosses pr. W[hitley] S[tokes] in Trans. Philological Society (1860–1), 234–6, 293; Latin text with Latin and Welsh glosses ed. with commentary, P. Russell, Reading Ovid in Medieval Wales (2017), 120–202.
(fol. 47v)

Originally blank; sentence in Old English (deriving from the Penitential of Ps.-Egbert) added in two 11th century hands.

Language(s): Old English



At Glastonbury Abbey by the fifteenth century: fol. 47v, ‘In custodia fratris H. Langley’; cf. the same inscription in the same hand in MS. Laud lat. 4, fol. 272. Probably the Henry Langley who was a junior monk at the election of Walter More as abbot in 1456.

MS. Auct. F. 4. 32 – Part IV (fols. 37–47): fols. 37–46

Physical Description

Form: codex
Support: parchment
Dimensions (leaf): 245–248 × 160–170 mm.


1(10) (fols. 40, 43 are singletons)


1 col., c. 33–41 lines. Written space c. 215 × c. 100 mm.


Fols. 37r-46v: Welsh minuscule by probably three scribes, (1) fols. 37r-42r18 (2) fols. 42r19–46r (3) fol. 46v.


Pächt and Alexander iii. 17, pl. I:

Fine initials.


Origin: 9th century ; Welsh


In England (Glastonbury Abbey?) by the mid-tenth century when fol. 47 added by hand D.

MS. Auct. F. 4. 32 – Part IV (fols. 37–47): fol. 47, replacement leaf by hand D

Physical Description

Form: codex
Support: parchment
Dimensions (leaf): 240 × 170 mm.


1 col., 26 lines.


English Caroline minuscule by ‘hand D’.


Origin: 10th century, middle ; England

Additional Information

Record Sources

Description by Matthew Holford, November 2018, drawing on published literature, notably:
J. Wilcox in Anglo-Saxon Manuscripts in Microfiche Facsimile 16 (2008), 79–91
R. W. Hunt (ed.), Saint Dunstan's classbook from Glastonbury (1961) [description and facsimile]
Previously described in the Summary Catalogue.


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Last Substantive Revision

2018-11: Description updated and revised.