Vercelli Book is one of a group of four major anthologies in Old
It is named after its location in Vercelli, Italy, where it seemingly
arrived in the twelfth century. It was 'discovered in the nineteenth
century when a German, Friedrich Blume, who was looking for legal
manuscripts, came across it.'
135 leaves, written by a single scribe, contain next to a group
of homilies 6 poetic texts, including The
Dream of the Rood and two poems ascribed to Cynewulf, namely
The Fates of the Apostles and Elene.
Vercelli Book appears ... to have been put together from a number
of different exemplars with no apparent overall design in mind.
The manner in which the scribe did the copying is relatively mechanical.
In most cases, he copied the dialect and the manuscript puntuation
that was found in the original texts, and these aspects therefore
aid in reconstructing the variety of exemplars. The texts therefore
range in date for although they were all copied in the later tenth
century, they need not all have been written in this period.'
Treharne suggests from an inspection of the texts, that the 'compiler
was someone "in a monastic setting" who wished "to
illustrate his personal interest in penitential and eschatological
themes and to glorify the ascetic way of life."'