Milan, Biblioteca Ambrosiana, MS C 5 inf Antiphonary of Bangor

  • Latin
  • s. vii3/3/viiiin
  • Irish manuscripts
  • vellum

An early Irish liturgical manuscript containing a collection of Latin hymns and canticles, collects and antiphons. It is traditionally thought to have been written at the monastery of Bangor (Bennchor, Co. Down) during or close to the time of the abbacy of Crónán (r. 680-691). On palaeographical grounds, it has been dated to c.700. At some time, the manuscript was brought to the continent, if it did not originate there, and kept at Bobbio until the foundation of the Biblioteca Ambrosiana in Milan, to which it was transferred in c.1606.

C 5 inf
Antiphonary of Bangor

Muratori, who examined the manuscript in the Ambrosian library and produced its first edition, referred to it as Antiphonarium Benchorense, ‘Antiphonary of Bangor’. While strictly speaking, this title is not accurate, it has stuck to this day.

prayers and hymns collects antiphons
Provenance and related aspects
s. vii3/3/viiiin
The final hymn enumerates the fifteen abbots of Bangor. It ends with Crónán, with whom the tense changes to the present, suggesting that he was still alive when the hymn was composed. It is commonly suggested that the manuscript must therefore date from the time of his abbacy, between 680 and 691. Kenney allows for a slightly wider window of time in which the manuscript may have been produced, since it is not certain that the date of composition and of the writing of the manuscript and of its final item, the hymn, neatly coincide. It is not impossible that the hymn was entered only after the bulk was written or that some time elapsed between its original composition and its transcription in the manuscript.
Origin, provenance
Origin: Ireland
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Bennchor [Bangor]
Bennchor ... Bangor
County Down
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ass. with Crónán [abbot of Bangor]Crónán ... abbot of Bangor
(fl. 680–691)
abbot of Bangor (680-691); moccu Chualne (AU), maccu Caulne (AT).
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See comments above. The monastery of Bangor features prominently in the form of the Versiculi familiae Benchuir, a hymn in honour of Comgall and said hymn enumerating the first 15 abbots of Bangor. From 795 AD on, the monastery was prone to Viking attacks, to which it finally succumbed. It is not known when it left Bangor, whether this occurred before or after the onset of the attacks, or indeed because of the attacks, but it must have been removed by the end of the period.
Provenance: Bobbio
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It is not known when the manuscript reached Bobbio, and whether this transfer occurred directly from Bangor. The manuscript appears to have remained in Bobbio until the end of the Middle Ages.
Origin: Bobbio
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A rival theory is that by Jeffery (2000), who has studied the nature of the liturgical content and its affiliations and concludes that the manuscript was written and compiled by Irish scribes at Bobbio.
Later provenance: Milan, Biblioteca Ambrosiana
Milan, Biblioteca Ambrosiana
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ass. with Federico BorromeoBorromeo (Federico)
Italian cardinal,  later archbishop of Milan, founder of the Biblioteca Ambrosiana in Milan (est. 1606, opened 1609),
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Ludovico Antonio MuratoriMuratori (Ludovico Antonio)
Italian scholar
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When Federico Borromeo (1564-1631), cardinal and archbishop of Milan, was establishing the Ambrosian Library (founded 1606), he persuaded the monks at Bobbio to have some 75 manuscripts, probably the antiphonary among them, transferred to this new environment in Milan. It was first edited by Ludovico Muratori.
Hands, scribes
Multiple, as yet to be determined hands. The rubrics are usually thought of as somewhat later additions. At the time of writing, no thorough study of the various hands detected in the manuscript could be found.
Codicological information
State of existence
largely complete
coarse vellum
9 ″ × 7 ″
Foliation / Pagination
First gathering: ff. 1-6 (3 bifolia); ff. 7-9 (three inserted leaves); ff. 10-13 (2 ifolia). Second gathering: ff. 14-21 (4 bifolia). Third gathering: ff. 22-36 (7 bifolia, with f.29r being an inserted slip).
Palaeographical information
Category: Insular half-uncial
T. J. Brown takes the script to be a specimen of ‘Phase 1 Insular half-uncial’, which he dates after c.700.
Table of contents

Links to texts use a standardised title for the catalogue and so may or may not reflect what is in the manuscript itself, hence the square brackets. Their appearance comes in three basic varieties, which are signalled through colour coding and the use of icons, , and :

  1. - If a catalogue entry is both available and accessible, a direct link will be made. Such links are blue-ish green and marked by a bookmark icon.
  2. - When a catalogue entry does not exist yet, a desert brown link with a different icon will take you to a page on which relevant information is aggregated, such as relevant publications and other manuscript witnesses if available.
  3. - When a text has been ‘captured’, that is, a catalogue entry exists but is still awaiting publication, the same behaviour applies and a crossed eye icon is added.

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.] Biblioteca pinacoteca accademia Ambrosiana, Online: Biblioteca Ambrosiana, 2019–present. URL: <>.
[facs. ed.] [ed.] Warren, Frederick E. [ed.], and W. Griggs, The antiphonary of Bangor: an early Irish manuscript in the Ambrosian Library at Milan, 2 vols, Henry Bradshaw Society, 4, 10, London: Harrison, 1893–1895.
Internet Archive – part II: <link>, <link> Internet Archive – part II (some pages missing, e.g. pp. 5, 13): <link>
Facsimile (vol. 1) and edition (vol. 2), with introduction, notes and appendices.
[ed.] Muratori, Ludovico Antonio, Anecdota ex Ambrosianae Bibliothecae codicibus, 4 vols, vol. 3-4, Padua, 1713.
Vol. 4, 119–159 Edition princeps, reprinted in PL 72: 579-606.

Secondary sources (select)

Stansbury, Mark [proj. dir.], and David Kelly [proj. dir.], Earlier Latin manuscripts: tools for studying the scripts of the oldest Latin manuscripts, Online: Department of Classics and Moore Institute, NUI Galway, 2016–. URL: <>. 
The Earlier Latin Manuscripts Project is a database of manuscripts written in Latin before the year 800 based on the work of E. A. Lowe and his assistants published in Codices Latini Antiquiores. The work for this project was conducted in the Department of Classics and the Moore Institute of the National University of Ireland Galway. Funding for its completion was contributed by both the Moore Institute and the School of Languages, Literatures, and Cultures. [...] Data from the database can be accessed in 3 ways, each subject to the license above: # Via the web front-end, accessible using the menu above; # By downloading a .csv file containing some or all of the data. This option is presented at the top of the catalogue page where you can filter and refine the data you would like to download; # By accessing the data via a JSON API (Application Programming Interface). Documentation on accessing data using this method is provided in the Technical Overview Section.
(source: website (November 2016))
Brown, T. Julian, “The Irish element in the Insular system of scripts to circa A.D. 850”, in: Heinz Löwe (ed.), Die Iren und Europa im früheren Mittelalter, 2 vols, vol. 1, Stuttgart: Klett-Cotta, 1982. 101–119.
Lowe, E. A., Codices Latini antiquiores: a palaeographical guide to Latin manuscripts prior to the ninth century. Part 3: Italy. Ancona – Novara, Codices Latini Antiquiores, 3, Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1938.
[id. 311.]
Kenney, James F., “Chapter VII: Religious literature and ecclesiastical culture”, in: James F. Kenney, The sources for the early history of Ireland: an introduction and guide. Volume 1: ecclesiastical, Revised ed., 11, New York: Octagon, 1966. 622–744.
706–712 [id. 568.]
OʼLaverty, James, An historical account of the diocese of Down and Connor, ancient and modern, 5 vols, vol. 2, Dublin: M. H. Gill & Son, 1880.
Internet Archive: <link>

External links

Dennis Groenewegen
Page created
November 2018, last updated: November 2022