Princess Gunhild’s 11th century Lost Book of Psalms discovered

Photo Credit: Regionaal Archief Alkmaar

Princess Gunhild, sister of Harold II—the last Anglo-Saxon king of England—inherited the handwritten manuscript; She bequeathed it to the church in Brussels, and it eventually found its way to an archive in the Netherlands

A Greek dictionary from the 17th century, consisting of 14 volumes, has recently been discovered. This remarkable find included fragments of parchment from an 11th-century manuscript. Surprisingly, it is now believed that this manuscript might have belonged to a princess who fled England after the Norman conquest.

21 sections from an 11th-century manuscript, a Latin psalter nearly 1,000 years old, featuring annotations in Old English (Anglo-Saxon). A psalter, in Christianity, refers to a book containing the Psalms, a Christian calendar and additional prayers.

These handwritten books were prevalent in the households of nobility and the wealthy in medieval Europe, serving for prayer and reading. Since many book owners couldn’t read, the books were richly illustrated in the style of medieval art.

Old English was spoken roughly between 500 AD and 1100 AD and shared similarities with Germanic, Parisian and Dutch, unlike modern English. In the archival discovery in Alkmaar, the annotations were written in Old English above each Latin word, allowing readers of that time to understand the religious text with the help of word translations between the lines.

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