Learning and Culture in Late Anglo-Saxon England and the Influence of Ramsey Abbey on the Major English Monastic Schools. Vol. 1

Author: Hart, Cyril
This massive 3-volume work describes the origin, flowering and decline of one particular monastic school during the fifty years which followed the reception into England of the Benedictine reformation which had swept Northern Europe during the middle years of the tenth century. Ramsey was endowed and established in 964, with a magnificent library, school and scriptorium. It was backed by powerful patrons, and Byrhtferth, its schoolmaster, was entrusted to cultivate in England the new learning that had become the driving force of the Continental reform. Starting with Bede’s historical and scientific works, he resuscitated the national vernacular chronicles and assembled for the first time materials for both regional and national chronicles in Latin. He also produced a number of saints’ lives. Abbo of Fleury, the most renowned Continental scholar of his day, visited Ramsey from 985 to 987, bringing with him many computistical and scientific tracts and teaching in its school. Ramsey was also at the forefront of an artistic revival, introducing important new features into book illumination. This radical and intensive study of the School of Ramsey brings all this together for the first time, shedding fresh light on the intellectual climate in late Anglo-Saxon England, with special attention to its indebtedness to Continental scholarship. The first volume is concerned mainly with the new curriculum in monastic schools and Byrhtferth’s important historical works. The second volume (divided into two books) includes a wide-ranging survey of the development of mathematical, medical and scientific studies in England before the Norman Conquest. Many basic texts are edited and translated in a series of appendices, and illustrated by 100 line drawings. Each volume has its own introduction and extensive bibliography and is fully indexed.


“Ramsey Abbey was a very important center of scholarship in the medieval period and we have long needed a study which will bring together so many different aspects of this, and place them in their national and international context…. Hart is well placed to produce such a study. He has been working on the abbeys of eastern England for almost half a century and has a truly encyclopaedic knowledge of the primary sources and of the secondary literature…. His book will be required reading for anyone working in the field of Anglo-Saxon studies and will inspire enthusiastic debate.” – Dr. Susan B. Eddington

“The materials for a study of Ramsey Abbey are comparatively extensive. The various elements are (thanks in great part to Dr. Hart) well-known, but only when they are brought together in a single compass can their full significance emerge. Such a study, conducted by a scholar deeply immersed in his material, cannot fail to add a new dimension to our understanding of the Benedictine reform movement, and its intellectual legacy to subsequent generations.” - Dr. Ann Williams, University of East Anglia

Table of Contents

Volume One: The New Curriculum in Monastic Schools
Table of contents:
Preface; Introduction
Part I: The Ramsey Mission
1. the Foundation of Ramsey Abbey
2. Liturgy at Ramsey
3. Ramsey and Dorchester
4. The Norwegian Mission
Part II: the Evolution of the Curriculum
5. The English Curriculum: Archbishop Oswald of York
6. The Continental Curriculum: Abbo of Fleury
7. The Combined Curriculum: Archbishop Wulfstan II of York
Part III: the Old English Chronicles
8. Annals and Chronicles at Ramsey
9. The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle: the B text
10. The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle: Genesis of the C text
11. The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle: Genesis of the D and E texts
Part IV: The Latin Chronicles
12. The East Anglian Chronicle
13. The Worcestor Historical Compendium
14. The Worcestor Latin Chronicle
15. Æthelweard’s Chronicle
16. Annals of the Adventus Saxonum
17. Byrhtferth’s Northumbrian Chronicle
18. The Ramsey House Chronicle
Bibliography; Lists of Charters and manuscripts quoted, Indices of personal names, place-names, and subjects