1. A Remarkable Tale of Manuscript Sleuthing: the Ely Farming Memoranda 

In 1902, Professor Skeat, the distinguished Anglo-Saxon philologist of Christ’s College, Cambridge, discovered the two binding fragments and published an article about them in the Cambridge Philological Society journal of that year.  But it was not until twenty-three years later that a Professor Stenton, a historian of Reading University College, came across a third piece of the puzzle in the collection of a Lincolnshire gentleman, Captain W R Cragg of Threekingham.  Cragg had assembled various manuscript fragments in an album, some of which he had apparently bought from a junk shop at Sleaford.  A talented manuscript sleuth, Stenton noticed that one parchment strip ‘closely resembles certain old English fragments found in 1902 by the late Professor Skeat’.  Once the three strips of parchment were placed side by side (the Cragg portion was later acquired by Queens’ College), their importance as a unique record of farming in Anglo-Saxon England was clear.  In addition, the names of monks such as Aelfnoth of Thorney Abbey or that of Aethelflad, wife of King Edmund, are of interest to historians, and four words in Old English occur only in this document (for example, sige: ‘sow’ and baensaede: ‘beanseed’)

    A Remarkable Tale of Manuscript Sleuthing: the Ely Farming Memoranda 

    In 1902, Professor Skeat, the distinguished Anglo-Saxon philologist of Christ’s College, Cambridge, discovered the two binding fragments and published an article about them in the Cambridge Philological Society journal of that year.  But it was not until twenty-three years later that a Professor Stenton, a historian of Reading University College, came across a third piece of the puzzle in the collection of a Lincolnshire gentleman, Captain W R Cragg of Threekingham.  Cragg had assembled various manuscript fragments in an album, some of which he had apparently bought from a junk shop at Sleaford.  A talented manuscript sleuth, Stenton noticed that one parchment strip ‘closely resembles certain old English fragments found in 1902 by the late Professor Skeat’.  Once the three strips of parchment were placed side by side (the Cragg portion was later acquired by Queens’ College), their importance as a unique record of farming in Anglo-Saxon England was clear.  In addition, the names of monks such as Aelfnoth of Thorney Abbey or that of Aethelflad, wife of King Edmund, are of interest to historians, and four words in Old English occur only in this document (for example, sige: ‘sow’ and baensaede: ‘beanseed’)

     
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    And for the record, my new favorite OE word is now 'baensaede.'
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