Aldred the Scribe

Aldred the Scribe's colophon, written in red ink,  associating the Lindesfarne Gospels with the names of those then thought to have originally made the book.

Detail map of Chester-le-Street, England, United Kingdom Overview map of Chester-le-Street, England, United Kingdom

A: Chester-le-Street, England, United Kingdom

Aldred the Scribe Glosses the Lindisfarne Gospels into Old English

Circa 950 CE to 960 CE
<p>P. 15 of the Lindesfarne Gospels. Aldred the Scribe's glossesmay be seen in small neat handwriting between the lines.</p>

P. 15 of the Lindesfarne Gospels. Aldred the Scribe's glossesmay be seen in small neat handwriting between the lines.

A small sampling of Aldred's gloss of the Gospels. (View Larger)

Around 950 or 960 CE Aldred the Scribe, Provost of the Roman fort Chester-le-Street, a town in County Durham, England, where the community of St. Cuthert had located along with the Lindisfarne Gospels, translated the Lindisfarne Gospels into Old English, annotating or 'glossing' the Latin text in a word-for-word continuous translation between its lines. Aldred's manuscript is the oldest surviving translation of the Gospels into the English language. Aldred also added a "colophon" associating his work with the names of those then thought to have originally made the book. Aldred's colophon indicates that the Gospels were written by Eadfrith, a bishop of Lindisfarne in 698, the original binding was supplied by Ethelwald, Eadfrith's successor in 721, and the outside ornamentation was done by Billfrith, an anchorite of Lindisfarne. He also states that the Gospels were created for God and St Cuthbert.

"Aldred's glosses, some of which comment on the text as well as translating it, reveal concern with monastic reform and abuses of clerical power. . . . Promoting the English language would have helped reunify England. Aldred translated the Lindisfarne Gospels into the Northumbrian dialect to establish his credentials upon entering the community" (Michelle Brown, Painted Labyrinth. The World of the Lindisfarne Gospels [2004] 12-13).

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