This blog aims to solicit feedback, comments and expert opinion on a remarkable hitherto undocumented Brittonic manuscript, with a view to eventually having a scholarly description and analysis published in an appropriate peer-reviewed journal. Suitably qualified potential authors of such an article are invited to contact the Site Administrator.
Formerly in the collection of Wallis Budge, the manuscript is a circular disk of scoured vellum, re-used from a very early Italian bible, with a 6 word inscription in a so far unidentified Brittonic or P-Celtic dialect.
SEE THE HEADER MENU AT THE TOP OF THE PAGE FOR A MORE DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE AMULET.
The introductory notes given here regarding translation of the text and palaeographic identification of the locale and date should NOT be regarded as definitive, but simply as a provisional summation of the most widely prevailing critical views thus far. It’s very possible that they may be amended or altered entirely as a result of further research and analysis.
Likewise, there is absolutely no critical consensus or commitment thus far on which of the Brittonic or P-Celtic dialects is represented here.
The verso has a fragment of Genesis 6:12 in Roman Lapidary Capital script from an Italian bible, circa AD 425 – 450, likely one of the earliest surviving witnesses to the Latin Genesis text.
The recto is scoured, palimpsest, with an early Celtic cross in red ochre surrounded by the words “Deƿos me conaƿet – atir me snadit”. The most likely translation of this is “God watch over me, Father protect me”.
On iconographic and palaeographic grounds the amuletic inscription dates from the late 7th or early 8th century and probably originates from Northumberland, likely the Monastery of Saint Peter at Monkwearmouth.
Written witnesses to any Brittonic tongue longer than six consecutive words are generally limited to land charters of this (mid-to-late seventh to early-eighth century) period, and are nearly always confined to Old Welsh alone. None of the numerous experts consulted so far is aware of any comparable example.
That this is a palimpsest on an exceptionally early 5th century Latin Old Testament, in a fine Roman Lapidary hand, is remarkable in its own right.
Formerly in the collection of Wallis Budge, with his notes.
Just 6 words, but possibly one of the oldest surviving manuscripts in a native British language pre-dating the Anglo-Saxon era.