The Archaeology of the Anglo‐Saxon Book

Richard Gameson

in The Oxford Handbook of Anglo-Saxon Archaeology

Published in print March 2011 | ISBN: 9780199212149
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Archaeology

The Archaeology of the Anglo‐Saxon Book

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  • Archaeology
  • Anglo-Saxon and Medieval Archaeology



This article discusses the range of different skills and techniques needed to produce Anglo-Saxon books. It also stresses the ways in which the processes of book-making, along with the resources and implements that were required, fitted into the material culture of an early medieval society. The basic material from which the pages of Anglo-Saxon books were made was animal skin. Late Anglo-Saxon images of evangelists and authors often show them working at what looks more like a lectern than a board or desk. Specific information on the storage of Anglo-Saxon books is predictably exiguous. Book production presupposed long-distance contacts. There is the methodological point that reconstructing the elusive realities of Anglo-Saxon book production requires a holistic approach to the available evidence, such as it is. It is essential to take codicological, documentary, art-historical, and archaeological evidence together, along with the experience of modern scribes, testing each against the others.

Keywords: Anglo-Saxon books; book-making; material culture; early medieval society; book production; archaeology

Article.  11310 words. 

Subjects: Archaeology ; Anglo-Saxon and Medieval Archaeology

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