A cartulary is a book into which a member of a religious house entered copies of some or all of the records, including charters, which accumulated in the archives or among the muniments of the house from the time of its foundation or re-foundation, generally in connection with the process of its endowment. It is intended to develop this section of the 'Kemble' website with pages on some of these cartularies, using images derived from microfilms acquired from the Britiah Library in the 1970s. We are grateful in this connection to Dr Claire Breay, and to the British Library.

The standard reference work is G. R. C. Davis, Medieval Cartularies of Great Britain and Ireland (London, 1958), revised by Claire Breay, Julian Harrison and David M. Smith (London: British Library, 2010). Cited below as MedCart, with number.

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There are recorded instances of the keeping of charters by religious houses in the eighth and ninth centuries, and thereafter, presumably in a chest or box. It is also apparent that documents, or copies of documents, might be entered, for the record, in gospel-books, libri vitae, and perhaps other special books, probably from the tenth century onwards (perhaps earlier).

  • For references to the use of gospel-books for record-keeping, see S. Keynes, 'King Athelstan's Books' (1985), p. 189 n. 216.
  • The Liber Vitae of the New Minster, Winchester

Cartularies were compiled in the Frankish world from the late eighth century onwards. The earliest surviving English example is 'Tiberius I' (below), from Worcester. Cartularies came in many different forms; the selection and organisation of the documents, and the treatment accorded to them by the copyist, depended on the purpose which each was intended to serve. The prime examples containing copies of Anglo-Saxon charters are:

  • ''Tiberius I' (BL Cotton Tiberius A. xiii, fols. 1-118), compiled at Worcester in the early eleventh century, apparently at the behest of Wulfstan, bishop of Worcester and archbishop of York. <MedCart 1068 (a).>
  • 'Tiberius II' (BL Cotton Tiberius A. xiii, fols. 119-200), also known as 'Hemming's cartulary', compiled at Worcester in the late eleventh century, apparently at the behest of Wulfstan II, bishop of Worcester. <MedCart 1068 (b).>
  • The Codex Wintoniensis (BL Add. 15350), compiled at the Old Minster (Cathedral Priory), Winchester, in the 1130s. <MedCart 1042.>
  • The Sherborne Cartulary (BL Add. 46487), compiled at Sherborne Abbey in the mid-1140s. <MedCart 892.>
  • The Abingdon Liber Terrarum (I) (BL Cotton Claudius C. ix), a chronicle-cartulary compiled at Abingdon Abbey in the late 1160s. <MedCart 3.>
  • The Abingdon Liber Terrarum (II) (BL Cotton Claudius B. vi), a revised version of the above, compiled at Abingdon Abbey in the early 13th century. <MedCart 4.>
  • The Wilton Cartulary (BL Harley 436), compiled at Wilton Abbey in the mid-13th century. <MedCart 1035.>

Several cartularies are known to have existed, but are now untraced:

  • Abbotsbury, Dorset <MedCart 1.>
  • Athelney, Somerset <MedCart 15.> <Came to light in 2001.>
  • Barking, Essex <MedCart 18.2.>
  • Burton, Staffordshire
  • Glastonbury, Somerset: Liber Terrarum <MedCart 432.1.>
  • St Albans, Herts. <MedCart 830.1.>
  • London, St Paul's. <MedCart 598.1.>

To be developed further.

  • Peter A. Stokes, 'The Problem of Grade in English Vernacular Minuscule, c. 1060 to 1220', New Medieval Literatures 13 (2011), pp. 23-47, at 32-41 (incl. table of cartularies, c. 1060-c. 1220) and 42-6 (Evesham cartulary in BL Cotton Vespasian B. xxiv)

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