London, British Library, MS Harley 1802 Gospels of Máel Brigte

  • Latin, Irish
  • s. xii1
  • Irish manuscripts
  • vellum
Twelfth-century Irish gospelbook written at Armagh by Máel Brigte úa Máel Úanaig, including an interlinear and marginal commentary on parts of the Gospels (glosses and some notes), with four Irish poems and a number of single-quatrain verses, a scribal colophon, and two portraits of Evangelist symbols (Mark and Luke).
Collection: Harley manuscripts
Harley 1802
Gospels of Máel Brigte
(Armagh Gospels)
Provenance and related aspects
Latin Secondary: Irish
s. xii1
c. 1138
Origin, provenance
Origin: Ard Macha
Ard Macha ... Armagh
County Armagh
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ass. with Máel Brigte húa Máel Úanaig
Máel Brigte húa Máel Úanaig
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Hands, scribes
Hands indexed:
Hand (Máel Brigte) Máel Brigte húa Máel ÚanaigMáel Brigte húa Máel Úanaig
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Codicological information
small quarto
Table of contents

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The above method of differentiating between links has not been applied yet to texts or citations from texts which are included in the context of other texts, commonly verses.


While it is not a reality yet, CODECS seeks consistency in formatting references to locations of texts and other items of interest in manuscripts. Our preferences may be best explained with some examples:

  • f. 23ra.34: meaning folio 23 recto, first column, line 34
  • f. 96vb.m: meaning folio 96, verso, second column, middle of the page (s = top, m = middle, i = bottom)
    • Note that marg. = marginalia, while m = middle.
  • p. 67b.23: meaning page 67, second column, line 23
The list below has been collated from the table of contents, if available on this page,Progress in this area is being made piecemeal. Full and partial tables of contents are available for a small number of manuscripts. and incoming annotations for individual texts (again, if available).Whenever catalogue entries about texts are annotated with information about particular manuscript witnesses, these manuscripts can be queried for the texts that are linked to them.


Primary sources This section typically includes references to diplomatic editions, facsimiles and photographic reproductions, notably digital image archives, of at least a major portion of the manuscript. For editions of individual texts, see their separate entries.

[dig. img.] British Library: digitised manuscripts, Online: British Library. URL: <>.
[ed.] Reeves, William, and Eugene OʼCurry [tr.], “On an Irish MS. of the Four Gospels in the British Museum”, Proceedings of the Royal Irish Academy (first series) 5 (1853): 45–67.  
comments: Eugene O'Curry supplies the translation for the Irish poem beginning 'Aurilius humilis ard' (and others as well?).
Internet Archive: <link> Internet Archive: <link> Internet Archive: <link>
Edition of the Irish additions. Kenney notes that the reproduction and translation of the Irish additions are “not wholly accurate”.
[ed.] Stokes, Whitley, “The Irish verses, notes and glosses in Harl. 1802”, Revue Celtique 8 (1887): 346–369, 538 (errata).
Internet Archive: <link> Internet Archive: <link>
Edition (incomplete) of Irish additions

Secondary sources (select)

Catalogue of illuminated manuscripts [in the British Library], Online: British Library, ?–present. URL: <>.
Sharpe, Richard, “Humfrey Wanley, Bishop John O’Brien, and the colophons of Mael Brigte’s gospels”, Celtica 29 (2017): 251–292.  
Mael Brigte's Gospels, BL MS Harley 1802, a manuscript written at Armagh in the twelfth century, is datable from reference in its colophons to the killing of Cormac Mac Carthaig, king of Munster and of Ireland. The date was first worked out as 1139 from unpublished annals by Humfrey Wanley (1672-1726), Harley's librarian, in 1713-14, in a remarkable piece of scholarship. Wanley understood the importance of a dated manuscript as a basis for palaeographical judgement of undated books. The manuscript and, almost certainly, Wanley's discussion came to the notice of John O'Brien (1701-1769), bishop of Cloyne, who saw the manuscript in the British Museum in 1767. Using the so-called Dublin Annals of Inisfallen, compiled for him by Fr John Connery, O'Brien was able to refine the dating to 1138, and he added a discussion of this colophon when he prepared his Focaloir for the press in 1767-8. The tenor of one colophon's reference to Cormac's killing is interpreted as itself significant: from the perspective of the all-Ireland primatial see where Mael Brigte wrote, the killing of King Cormac ended hope of a faithful all-Ireland monarchy. The colophon can be read as a contemporary judgement.
(source: Oxford University Research Archives)
OʼReilly, Jennifer, “The Hiberno-Latin tradition of the evangelists and the Gospels of Mael Brigte”, Peritia 9 (1995): 290–309.
CELT – dipl. ed. by Seán Connolly on pp. 305–306, ed. Ó Corráin: <link>
Rittmueller, Jean, “The Gospel commentary of Máel Brigte ua Máeluanaig and its Hiberno-Latin background”, Peritia 2 (1983): 185–214.
Rittmueller, Jean, “Afterword: the Gospel of Máel Brigte”, Peritia 3 (1984): 215–218.
Henry, Françoise, and G. L. Marsh-Micheli, “A century of Irish illumination (1070–1170)”, Proceedings of the Royal Irish Academy 62 C (1961–1962): 101–166.
Kenney, James F., The sources for the early history of Ireland: an introduction and guide. Volume 1: ecclesiastical, Revised ed., Records of Civilization: Sources and Studies, 11, New York: Octagon, 1966.  
Chapters: I. History in Ireland; II. Ireland in the ancient world (to about A.D. 700); III. The Irish church in the ‘Celtic’ period; IV. The monastic churches, their founders and traditions: the primitive foundations; V. The monastic churches: churches of the sixth to ninth centuries; VI. The expansion of Irish Christianity (seventh to twelfth century); VII. Religious literature and ecclesiastical culture (seventh to twelfth century); VIII. The reform movement of the twelfth century.
comments: Reprints: Records of Civilization: Sources and Studies. New York: Columbia University Press, 1929; First, revised reprint in 1966, with addenda and corrections by Ludwig Bieler; Records of Civilization 11. Shannon: Irish University Press, 1968; Records of Civilization 11. Dublin: Ó Táilliúir, 1979; Dublin: Four Courts Press, 1993.
648 (§ 483) [id. 483.]
Glunz, H. H., History of the Vulgate in England from Alcuin to Roger Bacon: being an inquiry into the text of some English manuscripts of the Vulgate Gospels, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1933.
Internet Archive – On loan: <link>
no. 23, Harley MS 1803 (sic)
Flower, Robin, Catalogue of Irish manuscripts in the [British Library, formerly the] British Museum, vol. 2, London: British Museum, 1926.
– IIIF Presentation API v2: View in Mirador – IIIF Presentation API v3: View in Mirador
Reeves, William, and Eugene OʼCurry [tr.], “On an Irish MS. of the Four Gospels in the British Museum”, Proceedings of the Royal Irish Academy (first series) 5 (1853): 45–67.  
comments: Eugene O'Curry supplies the translation for the Irish poem beginning 'Aurilius humilis ard' (and others as well?).
Internet Archive: <link> Internet Archive: <link> Internet Archive: <link>
Dennis Groenewegen
Page created
March 2012, last updated: August 2023