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The Anglo-Saxon Kingdoms and Europe: a view from the manuscripts
journal contributionposted on 08.05.2019, 09:25 by Joanna Story
On 19 October 2018 the British Library opens a four-month exhibition exploring rare and fascinating manuscripts from The Anglo-Saxon Kingdoms: Art, Word, War. It brings together 161 early medieval manuscripts and related objects, housed not only in the British Library but also in other collections within the UK and across Europe. A few are returning to Britain for the first time since they left England more than 1000 years ago, soon after they were made by Anglo-Saxon scribes. In the wake of conversion to Christianity, Anglo-Saxon England was both a recipient and exporter of manuscripts, scribes and scholars. Books were commonly exchanged for copying or were sent as gifts, and might be taken long distances in the hands of pilgrims, missionaries and messengers. Manuscripts were portable assets and were highly prized, both in aristocratic and royal circles, and in the churches and monasteries where some of the most influential libraries and scriptoria in post-Roman Europe were located. The surviving manuscripts – their script, decoration, texts and transmission histories – provide exceptional insight into the long-range connections of the Anglo-Saxon Kingdoms.