British Library, Cotton MS Vitellius A XV


Produced: England, 10th century
Current Location: British Library, London, England, UK
Manuscript Type: Miscellany
Language: Anglo-Saxon
Folios: 209
Illustrated: Yes
Media: Parchment
Dimensions: Height: 20.2 cm Width: 12 cm
Sample page - British Library Cotton MS Vitellius A XV
Folio 101r


A composite codex preserving the unique Beowulf manuscript. It contains the Southwick Codex (Old English), including four items: Soliloquies of St. Augustine; Gospel of Nicodemus fragment; Debate of Solomon and Saturn; St. Quintin Homily fragment. The second codex is the Nowell Codex, comprising five items: Life of St. Christopher fragment; Marvels of the East (illustrated); Alexander's Letter to Aristotle; Beowulf; Judith fragment.

Both the Marvels of the East (folios 98v-106v) and Alexander's Letter to Aristotle (folios 107r-131v) contain references to bestiary animals. Marvels of the East includes descriptions and images of the monstrous human races.

When the building housing the Cottonian collection of manuscripts caught fire in 1731, the manuscript was badly burned around the edges; it was saved by being thrown from the window with many other manuscripts. In the 19th century the British Museum repaired the books damaged by the fire, by which time much of the text of Beowulf had crumbled away from the edges of the pages. By 1845, Cotton Vitellius A. xv. was rebound mounted on paper frames that help slow the deterioration of the edges of the pages.

Additional Descriptions

Additional description

Editions and Facsimiles

Printed facsimiles

James, 1929

Digital facsimiles

British Library
British Library (partial, Marvels of the East pages