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Fontes Anglo-Saxonici: A Register of Written Sources Used by Authors in Anglo-Saxon England: Eighteenth Progress Report


Peter Jackson, for the Management Committee


This year's report is dominated by one event: the publication of the database on CD-ROM in 2002. Many readers of this report will already be familiar with this invaluable facility (about 150 copies have been distributed so far), which in several ways, particularly its search capacity, is a significant advance on the website – as well as being easily portable and permanently accessible. All the Old English and Anglo-Latin texts sourced, and all the source texts, can be arranged by author or title, and are searchable by author or title (the texts sourced can also be searched by edition). It is also possible, for example, to call up a "reference summary" for an individual author, showing at a glance which texts by that author have been sourced and which source authors have been identified; this information can then easily be broken down into entries for single passages from particular texts. In addition, the CD-ROM of course includes a bibliography of Anglo-Saxon texts, source texts, and source studies, which can again be ordered in various ways and is fully searchable. Some copies of the CD-ROM are still available (details below); alternatively, a version of the database can be downloaded to CD-ROM from the Fontes website. [See, further, "The Fontes Anglo-Saxonici Database: The Stand-Alone Version," OEN 36.1 (Fall 2002): 17-23.]

The project would never have reached this stage without the devotion and perseverance of Dr. Rohini Jayatilaka, who has been associated with Fontes since 1994 and was full-time Research Associate and Database Manager from 1999 to 2002 (funded by a grant from the Arts and Humanities Research Board). In addition to the (often tedious) editing and standardizing of thousands of entries, Dr. Jayatilaka has found time to generate many entries of her own and to liaise with computer consultants about the presentation of the material on the website and now on CD-ROM. Though she has now moved to another project, Dr. Jayatilaka has generously offered to continue to add incoming material in her spare time. These new contributions will initially be available only on the website, though it may be possible to produce a new edition of the CD-ROM in due course.

New entries have, indeed, continued to be submitted or added, drawn from a range of texts including three by Ælfric (two Old English and one Latin) and two major Latin works – Bede's Historia ecclesiastica (460 entries) and Asser's Vita Ælfredi regis (138 entries). Other work is in preparation. Since June 2002, Dr. Augustine Casiday has been working for the project as Research Associate in Anglo-Latin, and has been making steady progress on sourcing Aldhelm's prose De virginitate (nearly 70 entries out of a projected 90, including several sources not previously identified). Dr. Casiday has also prepared two articles and two conference papers based on his work for Fontes. Other scholars are sourcing various Old English texts, Ælfrician and anonymous.

There were meetings of the Management Committee in Birmingham in May 2002 and in Cambridge in October 2002. Professor Joyce Hill, who served as Chairman from 1998 (and previously as Secretary from the inception of the project in 1984) has now resigned on her appointment to a permanent administrative appointment with the Equality Challenge Unit, a recently formed body which works to promote equal opportunities in higher education across the UK. The Committee is very much in Professor Hill's debt, especially for seeing through our application for the major 1999-2002 AHRB grant, and it is a particular pleasure to report that she will continue to serve as a member (and to remain active in research). Professor Don Scragg, who has also been involved with the project since the outset, agreed to take her place as Chairman from January 1 2003, and he has himself been succeeded as Director of Old English by Dr. Susan Irvine.

Fontes inaugurated its twentieth year with a celebratory Open Meeting organized by Professor Clare Lees at King's College London on April 8 2003. Several members of the Committee spoke in the first half, surveying the achievements of Fontes (with a case study of Anglo-Latin), outlining the challenges posed by changing technology and considering future developments. The afternoon was devoted to three papers by younger scholars on two Anglo-Saxon authors (Ælfric and Aldhelm) and their Latin sources and on one twentieth-century author (Auden) and his Anglo-Saxon ones.

By mid-March 2003, 1153 texts had been sourced and 29,552 entries added to the database (22,162 in Old English and 7390 in Latin), and well over 1000 source-texts identified. Despite the publication of the CD-ROM, the project continues in operation; many texts in both languages remain to be sourced, and offers of further assistance are as welcome as ever. Potential contributors in the Old English field should contact Dr. Susan Irvine (Department of English Language and Literature, University College London, Gower Street, London, WC1E 6BT, UK), and in the Latin field, Dr. Rosalind Love (Robinson College, Cambridge, CB3 9AN, UK); while enquiries about the database, or requests for the CD-ROM, should be addressed to Dr. Rohini Jayatilaka, either via the Fontes website or by e-mail (fontes@english.ox.ac.uk).

April 2003



Fontes entries added to the database since April 1, 2002

Old English

C.B.1.3.18, ÆLFRIC, Lives 17 (On Auguries), M.R. Godden, 52 entries

C.B.1.3.2, ÆLFRIC, Lives 1 (Nativity of Christ), M.R. Godden, 67 entries

C.B.22.1, ANON (OE), Alexander's Letter to Aristotle, C. Rauer, 41 entries

C.B.3.3.10, ANON (OE), Life of St Guthlac (prose), J. Roberts, 56 entries

C.B., ANON (OE), Vercelli homily 23 (Guthlac), J. Roberts, 9 entries

C.B.3.3.23, A ANON (OE), Life of St Mary of Egypt [second edition], H. Magennis, 42 entries


L.D.1.4, BEDA, Historia ecclesiastica gentis Anglorum, K. Scarfe Beckett, 460 entries

L.G.7.1, ÆLFRIC, Excerpts from Julian of Toledo, M.R. Godden, 194 entries

L.D.2.0, ASSER, Vita Ælfredi regis, Richard Hewitt, 138 entries

Current database statistics

Number of texts: 1153 (535 OE; 618 Latin) [NOTE: 1 OE text replaces an earlier version]

Number of entries: 29,552 (22,162 OE; 7390 Latin)