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

MS. Barlow 4

Summary Catalogue no.: 6416


Smaragdus, Collectiones epistolarum et evangeliorum de tempore et de sanctis
Rubric: Collectio quedam omeliarum et sermonum per totum annum

A lectionary for the whole year

It begins with the vigil of Christmas, 'Cernens ecclesia' (p. 9), which is preceded by a preface in a somewhat earlier hand (p. 1)

At p. 256 are additional lections for saints, martyrs, virgins, etc.

Language(s): Latin

Physical Description

Form: codex
Support: parchment
Extent: vi + 486 leaves
Dimensions (binding): 14.6 × 11 in.


2 cols


The rubric ('Collectio quedam omeliarum et sermonum per totum annum') is written in a mid-thirteenth-century English hand


Pächt and Alexander iii. 40

Good miniatures (marginal sketches with a pen and with a hard point, pp. 123, 450) added in the early 11th century


Stamped brown leather, English work, rebacked


Origin: The main text was written in the 9th century, third quarter; the decoration was added in the early 11th century ; Northern France (the date and place of origin are those assigned by Bernard Bischoff, as cited by Joyce Hill, 'Authority and Intertextuality in the Works of Ælfric', Proceedings of the British Academy, 131 [2005], p. 166, fn. 27)

Provenance and Acquisition

Worcester, Worcestershire, Benedictine cathedral priory of St Mary the Virgin (MLGB3)

Joyce Hill speculates that this manuscript was most probably imported into England in the Benedictine Reform in the 10th century (Joyce Hill, 'Authority and Intertextuality in the Works of Ælfric' [2005], p. 166, fn. 27)

Rosamond McKitterick argues that MS. Barlow 4 is the West Frankish exemplar for Worcester, Cathedral and Chapter Library F. 91, one of only three examples where both the Continental exemplar and its English copy have been identified ('Exchanges Between the British Isles and the Continent, c. 450 - c. 900', in The Cambridge History of the Book in Britain: Volume 1: c. 400–1100, ed. by Richard Gameson [Cambridge, 2001], p. 329. See also David N. Dumville, English Caroline Script and Monastic History: Studies in Benedictinism [Boydell, 1993], p. 49)

The format of Worcester, Cathedral and Chapter Library MSS. F.91–94 have points of commonality with MS. Barlow 4; e.g. the script on p. 6 (heading) can be compared to Worcester, Cathedral and Chapter Library F.92, fol. 231v (MLGB3)

There is a 12th-century inscription 'q[u]ot sunt'

The names 'Thomas Grene' and 'Thomas Morer' have been scribbled in a 16th-century hand on p. v

On p. vi there is a note by Thomas Barlow that this is a Roman lectionary

Bequeathed to the Bodleian in 1691 by Thomas Barlow (Summary Catalogue, Vol. 2 Part 2, p. 1043)

Record Sources

Summary description abbreviated from the Summary Catalogue (1937), with reference to published literature as cited. Decoration, localization and date follow Pächt and Alexander (1973).


Last Substantive Revision

2023-04-14: Description revised to incorporate all the information in the Summary Catalogue (1937)