The compared versions
below clearly show that it would be a mistake to treat
the ASC as if it were just one chronicle, one single MS,
that supposedly was added to over the centuries. It is
believed that during the 9th century a chronicle was
drawn up in Wessex, probably due to King Alfred. Some of
the sources used to compile this chronicle have been
identified: Bede's Historia Ecclesiastica Gentis
Anglorum, and its chronological summary which is continued
down to Ecgbryht (Egbert); several Northumbrian and
Mercian king-lists; etc.
sources have been suggested for other material in the
chronicles, for example an earlier set of West Saxon
annals down to 754 have been postulated to account for
the relative frequency of West Saxon references to this
point. There are very few (just 5) entries between 755
and 823 that refer specifically to Wessex, and these are
thought to come from an oral tradition. After 823 the
material is contemporary with the compilation. The date
when this original (non-extant) chronicle was compiled is
uncertain, but it is thought that there was a chronicle
up to 855, as the genealogy for ∆thelwulf in 855 look
like a termination.
comparison of the entries between 380 and 601 can be
found at this site.
The seven main known
sources that make up the 'Anglo-Saxon Chronicle' MSS. are
A (Corpus Christi College, Cambridge MS
173 ff. 1-32)
This, the oldest surviving manuscript, is
sometimes known as the Parker Chronicle,
after Matthew Parker, the Archbishop of
Canterbury who once owned it. Little is known of
its early history, only that parts of it were
copied into Manuscript G some time between 1001
and 1012/13 and that by the late eleventh century
it was at Christ Church, Canterbury, where the
compiler of Manuscript F used it and it received
a number of entries by the F-scribe and other
Canterbury hands, extending to 1070 in Old
English and to 1093 in Latin. The contents of
some annals unique to "A" show strong
Winchester connections, as do some of the hands
that contributed to the text. However, the theory
that the earliest section was copied at
Winchester is still disputed. The prime author of
the text ('Hand 1'), responsible for the main
text to end of the first part of the annal for
891. Parkes dates hand 1 to 890-900. Dumville
prefers an early 10th century date. Bately, Ker
and Brown date Hand 1 to the late 9th or early
10th century. He cannot have been writing before
B (London, British Library, Cotton
This manuscript was copied by a single scribe in
the late tenth century and contains annals in Old
English to 977. The manuscript has traditionally
been attributed to Abingdon but this is disputed.
The manuscript must have been at Christ Church,
Canterbury by ca. 1100, when a list of popes was
added, by the same scribe, to Manuscripts A and
B. The prime author of the text ('Hand 1') cannot
have been writing before 977.
C (London, British Library, Cotton
This manuscript contains annals in Old English to
1066, where it breaks off in the middle of the
account of Stamford Bridge. A supply sheet,
written in a twelfth century hand concludes this
account. It is written in seven or eight hands of
the mid eleventh century and slight changes in
the hands suggest it may have been updated
annually ca. 1043-48. The text to 977 is so close
to that of Manuscript B and that it has been
proposed that B and C shared a common exemplar.
The manuscript is written in seven
eleventh-century hands with one supply sheet in a
D (London, British Library, Cotton
This manuscript contains annals in Old English to
1079, where it breaks off in mid-sentence at the
bottom of a half-sized folio. No more than half a
page of text can have been lost as a new annal
(for 1130) starts at the top of the other side.
It is written in ten to eighteen hands typical of
the late eleventh or early twelfth centuries. The
section of the manuscript covering 262 to 692/3
has been lost. The manuscript is a conflation of
a northern development of the original chronicle,
known as the "Northern Recension"
(which had been expanded with material from
Bede's Historia Ecclesiastica and other northern
sources) and a manuscript similar to C.
E (Oxford, Bodlean Library, MS Laud 636)
This manuscript was most likely copied in 1121 at
Peterborough (possibly to make good losses after
the disastrous fire of 1116) and maintained up to
1154. Like "D", this manuscript forms
part of the "Northern Recension" of the
Chronicle, but also includes a set of 'Norman'
chronicles in Latin and unique material relating
to Peterborough. This is also known as the Laud
Chronicle, after Archbishop Laud, its last
private owner who acquired it in 1638 and as the Peterborough
Chronicle. The manuscript is written in two
twelfth-century hands. There are several
marginalia in late thirteenth- or
F (London, British Library, Cotton
This bilingual chronicle with entries in Old
English and Latin was written at Christ Church,
Canterbury just after 1100. It was compiled from
various sources, including Manuscript A, the
immediate ancestor of Manuscript E (vE), the Annales
Wintonienses, and a set of 'Norman'
G (London, British Library, Cotton Otho
An early 11th century copy of Manuscript A. This
manuscript was almost completely destroyed in a
fire in 1731.
There are a number of
manuscripts, though not part of the core of the
Chronicle, which must be examined for a full
understanding of the Chronicle.
H (London, British Library, Cotton
Domitian A.ix) A fragment of a Chronicle dealing
with 1113-1114, but independent from the account
in Manuscript E.
I (London, British Library, Cotton
Caligula A.xv) An Easter Table Chronicle.
Life of ∆lfred This is in part derived
from a text of the Chronicle similar to MS
A which terminates in 887--at least this is when
Asser last utilises it in his "Life".
- The Annals
of St Neots This is in part derived from
a text of the Chronicle which extends to
at least 912.
Chronicon of ∆thelweard This is also
derived from a text of the Chronicle
similar to MS A.
Chronicle, ed. and trans. Michael Swanton,
Chronicle, Manuscript A - Parker MS; Corpus
Christ College, Cambridge MS 173 ff. 1-32,
transcr Tony Jebson, full text (Old English) at http://www.georgetown.edu/labyrinth/library/oe/texts/asc/
Chronicle, trans. Rev. James Ingram (London,
1823, published in "The Anglo-Saxon
Chronicle", Everyman Press, London, 1912),
full text (English) at http://www.britannia.com/history/docs/asintro2.html, http://sunsite.berkeley.edu/OMACL/Anglo/#contents and http://celt.net/Celtic/msg/angsx/angsxintro.html.
- Tony Jebson:
Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, an edition with TEI P4
markup, expressed in XML and translated to
XHTML1.1 using XSLT, at: http://asc.jebbo.co.uk/