History

1,000-Year-Old Beautifully Illustrated Manuscript Of Herbal Remedies Available Online

Herbal health remedies date back thousands of years and even to this day are still very popular in Western medicine.

This beautifully illustrated manuscript known as the Cotton MS Vitellius C III is the only surviving illustrated Old English herbal remedy book in existence.

“No one knows for sure how this manuscript was used or even where or by whom it was made,” says project curator Alison Hudson. “Its production has been associated with monastic scriptoria at Canterbury and Winchester, due to its style of decoration and script, but this is by no means certain. Monasteries in those areas functioned both as centers of natural and supernatural healing and also as libraries and centers of learning.”

The Cotton MS Vitellius C III dates back to the 11th century and is currently on display at the British Library. High-resolution scans are available online here.

Herbal remedies

Remedies for poisonous bites were marked with drawings of snakes and scorpions

Illustration representing author portraits

The manuscript was previously translated into modern English by Anne Van Arsdall in her book Medieval Herbal Remedies: The Old English Herbarium and Anglo-Saxon Medicine. It’s available for sale on Amazon!

h/t: British Library

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