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

MS. Rawl. B. 503

Summary Catalogue no.: 11850


Annals ('The Annals of Inisfallen')

Annals in Irish and Latin, now beginning with Abraham, but with two leaves lost at the beginning; ending in 1326 C.E. but with a few marginal additions extending to 1450. Text is missing before fol. 1, after fol. 6, after fol. 36, after fol. 44, and after fol. 50.

The origin of the annals to 1092 is disputed, with scholars suggesting both Emly and Lismore; from 1092 onwards Mac Airt suggested that the annals were continued perhaps at Lismore (to 1130), thereafter further west in Munster, by at least the late thirteenth century at Innisfallen. See D. McCarthy, The Irish Annals: Their Genesis, Evolution and History (Dublin, 2008), 211-16, with references to earlier literature. The somewhat misleading description of the manuscript as 'The Annals of Inisfallen' goes back to its seventeenth-century owner James Ware (see Provenance).

Ed. and tr. Seán Mac Airt, The Annals of Inisfallen (MS. Rawlinson B. 503) (1951): electronic edition CELT: The Corpus of Electronic Texts, in four sections: (1) text to 433; (2) translation to 433; (3) text from 433; (4) translation from 433

Ogam script is used on fol. 40va for a Latin proverb, Walther Prov. 19188 (Ó Cuiv, p. 205)

Language(s): Irish and Latin

Physical Description

Form: codex
Support: parchment
Extent: i (parchment, conjoint with pastedown) + 57 + i (parchment, conjoint with pastedown) leaves
Dimensions (leaf): c. 245 × 175-80 mm.
Foliation: i, 1-58


After Ó Cuiv's tentative reconstruction (p. 201): 1(10-4) (fols. 1-6: wanting 1-2 before fol. 1 and 9-10 after fol. 6), 2(4) (fols. 7-10), 3(8) (fols. 11-18), 4(2) (fols. 19-20), 5(16) (fols. 21-36), [text lost], 6(three singletons, fols. 37-9), 7(2) (fols. 40-1), 8(three singletons, fols. 42-4), [text lost], 9(2) (fols. 45-6), 10(4) (fols. 47-50), [text lost], 11(seven, perhaps 6+1 with fol. 53 inserted after 2)


Written space c. 205-15 × 150 mm. overall; c. 27-37 lines.

Fols. 1r-11v, 37r-v, 38v-46v (part), 47r-57v: two columns.

Fols. 12r-36v: three columns.

Fol. 38r and 46v (part): one column.


Mostly in Irish minuscule with some later entries (notably fols. 55r-57v) in textualis. Scribal stints identified by Mac Airt and Best, as summarized by Ó Cuiv (pp. 202-5, with a full table):

One scribe to fol. 29r col. 3 line 29 (end of 1092)

Twenty-eight contemporary scribes, fols. 29r-44v(b31), covered 1092-1214.

Ten further scribes on fols. 45r-57v, covering 1214-1326.

Further scribes (not distinguished by Ó Cuiv) contributed additions and marginal entries.


Coloured initials.


17th-century brown leather on pasteboards, with Sir James Ware's armorial crest in gilt on both covers; rebacked, Bodleian, 19th century.

Former limp parchment binding, with Sir James Ware's title 'Annales coenobii Inisfallensis' and pressmark ('Vol. XXVI'), preserved as fols. i and 58 and the front and back pastedowns.

Accompanying Material

Engraving of 'Hiberna Antiqua' (by Hollar) pasted on to the back pastedown.

Modern notes by John O'Donovan and R. Twigge (dated 1900) pasted to fol. i recto.


Origin: 1092–15th century ; Irish

Provenance and Acquisition

Sir James Ware, 1594–1666 (William O'Sullivan, 'A finding list of Sir James Ware's manuscripts', Proceedings of the Royal Irish Academy: Archaeology, Culture, History, Literature 97C/2 (1997)), libri historici XXVI.

Henry, Earl of Clarendon; pressmark 'Volumen 18.s(?)' on the back pastedown (cf. O'Sullivan, 75-6).

His sale 1709; acquired by James Bryges, Duke of Chandos.

His sale, 1747.

Richard Rawlinson, 1690–1755

Bequeathed to the Bodleian in 1755

Record Sources

Description adapted from A. Watson, Catalogue of Dated and Datable Manuscripts in Oxford Libraries (1984), no. 666, with additional reference to published literature as cited. Previously described in the Quarto Catalogue (W. D. Macray, Catalogi codicum manuscriptorum Bibliothecæ Bodleianæ...viri munificentissimi Ricardi Rawlinson, J.C.D., codicum...complectens, Quarto Catalogues V, 5 fascicles, 1862–1900).


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Digital Images

Digital Bodleian (full digital facsimile)
Digital Bodleian (122 images from 35mm slides)


    Printed descriptions:

    Brian Ó Cuiv, Catalogue of Irish Language Manuscripts in the Bodleian Library at Oxford and Oxford College Libraries, 2 vols (Dublin, 2001–3), I.201–7

Last Substantive Revision

2023-01: Description revised with reference to Watson and published literature as cited.