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The language of the ‘Fonthill Letter’

  • Mechthild Gretsch (a1)

The ‘Fonthill Letter’ is a document sent by Ordlaf, ealdorman of Wiltshire from 897 onwards, to King Edward the Elder (899–924). It was intended to be used as evidence in a lawsuit which one Æthelhelm Higa had instituted against the bishop of Winchester, claiming possession of five hides at Fonthill in Wiltshire, which Ealdorman Ordlaf had given to the bishop in exchange for five hides in another part of Wiltshire. The letter traces the intricate history of the Fonthill estate, relating the sequence of events by which it had come into Ordlaf's possession through his godson Helmstan, who had distinguished himself by having been twice convicted of theft. Eventually, the letter served its purpose: Æthelhelm Higa withdrew from the suit.

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1 Keynes, S., ‘The Fonthill Letter’, Words, Texts and Manuscripts: Studies in Anglo-Saxon Culture Presented to Helmut Gneuss on the Occasion of his Sixty-Fifth Birthday, ed. Korhammer, M. et al. (Munich, 1992), pp. 5397 [hereafter ‘Letter’] for previous editions and translations, see ibid. p. 53, nn. 3 and 4.

2 See summaries in ‘Letter’, pp. 54–5 and 96.

3 See Wormald, P., ‘A Handlist of Anglo-Saxon Lawsuits’, ASE 17 (1988), 247–81, at 279.

4 Canterbury, Dean and Chapter, Chart. Ant. C. 1282 (Red Book, no. 12). See Sawyer, P. H., Anglo-Saxon Charters: an Annotated List and Bibliography, R. Hist. Soc. Guides and Handbooks 8 (London, 1968) [hereafter S], no. 1445. For a reduced facsimile and description of the sheet, see now ‘Letter’, pp. 5861; for the type and date of the script used in the document, see below, p. 94.

5 Cf. ‘Letter’, pp. 55 and 61–2.

6 Cf. ibid. pp. 55, 58, 61 and 95–6; for further discussion, see below, passim.

7 Cf. ibid. p. 62

8 An Anglo-Saxon Reader, ed. Wyatt, A. J. (Cambridge, 1919), pp. 112–15 and 245–7; the book has been reprinted several times.

9 Ibid. p. vii.

10 See ibid. p. v.

11 Cf. ibid. p. 246.

12 Bosworth, J. and Toller, T. N., An Anglo-Saxon Dictionary (Oxford, 18821898); Toller, T. N., An Anglo-Saxon Dictionary: Supplement (Oxford, 19081921) [hereafter BT and BTS respectively].

13 Hall, J. R. Clark, A Concise Anglo-Saxon Dictionary, 4th ed. with suppl. by H.D. Meritt (Cambridge, 1960) [hereafter CHM]. A remark dating from c. 1805 on the dorse of the parchment records that the antiquary William Somner (1598–1669) had translated the letter, but Keynes was unable to find any trace of the translation among Somner's papers at Canterbury; see ‘Letter’, p. , n. 2. A check of rare words and hapax legomena from the ‘Fonthill Letter’ revealed that Somner apparently did not use the document as a source when compiling his dictionary (Somner, W., Dictionarium Saxonico-Latino-Anglicum (Oxford, 1659)).

14 The translation is that of Whitelock, D. in English Historical Documents c. 500–1042, ed. Whitelock, D., 2nd ed., Eng. Hist. Documents 1 (London, 1979), 544–6 (no. 102), with some modifications by Simon Keynes: see ‘Letter’, p. 63.

15 In the text ‘interlinear corrections are enclosed within caret marks (‘…’); words written over erasure are enclosed within angle brackets (<…>); and missing letters or words are indicated with square brackets ([…])’: ‘Letter’, p. 63.

16 Cf. Luick, K., Historische Grammatik der englischen Sprache (Leipzig, 19141940; repr. with an index by R. F. S. Hamer, Oxford, 1964) [hereafter Luick], § 110; Brunner, K., Altenglische Grammatik. Nach der Angelsächsischen Grammatik von E. Sievers, 3rd ed. (Tübingen, 1965) [hereafter SB], § 79; Campbell, A., Old English Grammar (Oxford, 1959) [hereafter Campbell], § 130; Hogg, R. M., A Grammar of Old English. I, Phonology (Oxford, 1992) [hereafter Hogg], ch. 5.3–5.5. For figures of <o> and <a> spellings in the earlier parts of the Parker Chronicle, see The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle MS A, ed. Bately, J. M., The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle: a Collaborative Edition [ed. Dumville, D. and Keynes, S.] 3 (Cambridge, 1986), cxxxiii–cxxxiv.

17 Thirty in total, not counting words like hwonne ‘when’ or on (preposition and prefix) where late West Saxon texts also normally have <o>; ond ‘and’ has not been counted, as it is always abbreviated by 7.

18 See Luick, § 110, n. 3 and SB, § 79, n. 1.

19 Cf. Luick, § 367.

20 Cf. Luick, § 110 and Campbell, § 130.

21 Cf. 6.5 (2 occurrences) and 12.1; here and in the following notes reference is to section and line numbers of the edition (see Appendix, below, pp. 98–100).

22 Cf. 5.1, 6.2 (2 occurrences) and 6.4.

23 See SB, §§ 407, n. 2 and 122, n. 6; Campbell, § 753.9b.

24 Cf. SB, §§ 425 and 122.3; Campbell, §§ 767 and 312.

25 Cf. Campbell, § 300; the Primitive Germanic antecedent is probably *fernja.

26 The etymology of this word is not quite clear, but the normal early WS form gīet is explained as apparent palatal diphthongization; cf. SB, § 91 d and Hogg, ch. 5.53.

27 Cf. SB, § 130.3; Campbell, §§ 234 and 237.3.

28 Hogg, ch. 5.163.

29 Cf. Luick, § 263; SB, §§ 22 and 41; Campbell, §§ 300 and 301; Hogg, ch. 5.163.

30 Further proof of a monophthongization is provided by the inverted spelling <ie> for original /i/ in early manuscripts, e.g. bieterness or briengan in the Hatton manuscript of the Regula pastoralis; cf. Campbell, § 300.

31 Campbell, § 300.

32 E.g. 〈miht〉 ‘might’; cf. Campbell, § 301.

33 See SB, § 91c, n. 5 and Campbell, § 300, n. 1.

34 See SB, § 91c, n. 6; Campbell, § 185; Hogg, ch. 5.53, n. 1.

35 SB, §90, n. 1.

36 For a recent evaluation of these problems, see Hogg, ch. 5.163–73.

37 Namely the Hatton manuscript as well as the fragments of the Tiberius manuscript of the Regula pastoralis (Oxford, Bodleian Library, Hatton 20 and London, British Library, Cotton Tiberius B. xi), the Lauderdale Orosius (London, BL Add. 47967) and the earlier parts of the Parker Chronicle (Cambridge, Corpus Christi College 173; scribes 1 and 2).

38 See Bülbring, K. D., Altengliscbes Elementarbuch (Heidelberg, 1902), §§ 23 and 27.

39 Cf. Luick, § 263.

40 Campbell, § 301. For a different solution of the phonological problems involved in the development of ie, cf. Hogg, ch. 5.170–1, who sees a continuity between the early and the late West Saxon forms by assuming an original monophthong for 〈ie〉 and explaining the different representations as 〈i〉 and 〈y〉 in the context of a tendency to ‘lax’ original /i/ and /y/ in West Saxon.

41 Cf. e.g. the retention (and even the substitution) of hie in Version G of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, an early eleventh-century copy of the Parker Chronicle; see Lutz, A., Die Version G der Angelsächsischen Chronik. Rekonstruktion und Edition, Texte und Untersuchungen zur englischen Philologie 11 (Munich, 1981), clxx–clxxi.

42 Cf. SB, § 31; Campbell, § 316; Hogg, ch. 5.170–5.

43 Cf. SB. § 22; Campbell, § 318; Hogg, ch. 5.170–5.

44 Cf. 4.1, 6.4 (2 occurrences), 7.4 and 15.3; and ryhtrace 4.2.

45 Cf. SB, § 22, n. 2 and § 122; Campbell, § 305, n. 2.

46 In 1.2, from spricð, 3rd pers. sg. pres. ind. of sprecan ‘speak’.

47 In 9.3, for bismer ‘disgrace, scandal’.

48 In 15.2, 1st pers. sg. pres. ind. of willan ‘will’.

49 In 8.5; note that the single / in the 3rd pers. sg. pres. ind. is considered a typically early West Saxon spelling; cf. SB, § 128, n. 1.

50 In 3.3, 5.5, 6.1, 6.2, 6.6, 8.5 and 11.3 (2 occ); for the syncope in this word, see below, pp. 68–9.

51 For speremon (10.3), see below, pp. 84–7. I do not believe that e here results from i-mutation of u (instead of West Saxon y) and is thus a Kenticism.

52 Cf. Luick, § 282; SB, § 124; Campbell, §§ 325–6; Hogg, ch. 5.171, n. 2.

53 See Bülbring, K., ‘Zur alt-und mittelenglischen Grammatik’, Englische Studien 27 (1900), 7389, at 87.

54 Cf. Luick, § 282, n. 3; SB, § 124, n. 2; Hogg, ch. 5.171, n. 2.

55 See Luick, § 282; Campbell, § 326.

56 For the origins of the diphthongs and their later development, see Luick, §§ 124–6, 191; SB, §§ 38–40; Campbell, §§ 293–7; Hogg, ch. 5.155–62.

57 Cf. SB, § 38; Campbell, § 296; Hogg, ch. 5.162.

58 For figures from these two manuscripts, see Bately, , Chronicle, p. cxxxv and The Old English Orosius, ed. Bately, J., EETS ss 6 (Oxford, 1980), xliii–xliv. See also Cosijn, P. J., Altwestsächsische Grammatik, 2 vols. (The Hague, 18831886) [hereafter Cosijn] 1, §§ 19, 25, 26, 29, 38, 74 and 101–6 for figures from the manuscripts of the Regula pastoralis. See also the Old English grammars referred to above, n. 56.

59 The occurrences are: the pronouns bēo ‘she’ (5.3 [2 occ] and 5.4); beora ‘their’ (5.1); sēo (fem. article, 5.8); further lēof ‘dear’ (1.1, 8.3 and 15.1; comparative 7.2); bēon ‘be’ (4.1 and 15.2);fēo ‘money’ (5.3 and 8.4); ēodan ‘went’ (6.1);δēof ‘thief’ (11.3); weotena ‘councillors’ (14.2); tēoδing ‘tithe’ (14.3); fēower ‘four’ (14.3); dēore ‘dear’ (5.7 in Deormod); and nēod (ðearf) ‘necessity’. (15.1). Note that ēo in nēodðearf seems to result from a confusion between the vowels of original nīed ‘necessity’ (with Prim. Germ, au) and original nēod ‘desire’ (with Prim. Germ. eu). There is much variation in the spelling of the vowels in both nouns; see the remarks in BT, s. v. nēod and in The Oxford English Dictionary, ed Murray, J. A. H. et al. (Oxford, 18841928; 2nd ed. in 20 vols., Oxford, 1989) [hereafter OED], s. v. need, sb.

60 See Orosius, ed. Bately, , pp. xlix and li–lii; cf. also Bately, , Chronicle, p. cxxxv for 〈io〉 in the later parts of the Parker Chronicle.

61 Cf. Cosijn 1, § 29; Luick, § 224, n. 1; SB, § 111, n. 2; Campbell, §§ 221 and 296.

62 Cf. Luick, § 251; SB, § 214.3; Campbell, § 243; Hogg, chs. 5.128 and 7.71.

63 See Cosijn 1, § 135.

64 See ibid, and Hogg, ch. 7.71, n. 3.

65 Cf. SB, § 214.3; Campbell, § 245; Hogg, ch. 7.71, n. 1.

66 The occurrences are: specan (2.2, infinitive); spycð (1.2, 3rd pers. sg. ind. pres.); spæc (3.2, 1st pers. sg. ind. pret.); onspecendan (2.2, ‘claimants’); forespeca (3.1, ‘intercessor’); spæc (8.3 [2 occ], ‘suit’); and forspæ¯ce (4.2, ‘advocacy’).

67 See SB, § 180; Campbell, § 475; Hogg, ch. 7.86, n. 3.

68 See Ker, N. R., Catalogue of Manuscripts containing Anglo-Saxon (Oxford, 1957; repr. with suppl. 1991), no. 207.

69 Cosijn I, § 143.

70 Cf. Campbell, § 475.

71 For the occurrences, see above, n. 50; for consistent 〈i〉 as a spelling for original /y/, see also above, p. 64.

72 See Campbell, §§ 391 and 474; Hogg, ch. 6.69.

73 Cf. Bülbring, , Altenglisches Elementarbuch, § 285, n. 3; SB, § 161 n.

74 Cosijn I, § 120.

75 See Sprockel, C., The Language of the Parker Chronicle, 2 vols. (The Hague, 19651973) I, 105–6 (ch. 5.6.4, n. 2).

76 For dates of hands 1 and 2, see Bately, , Chronicle, pp. xxiv–xxv and xxxiii–xxxiv; for a general discussion of the early scribes and of the literature on the subject, see ibid. pp. xxi–xxxiv. See now also Dumville, D. N., ‘The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle and the Origins of English Square Minuscule Script’, in his Wessex and England from Alfred to Edgar, Stud. in AS Hist. 3 (Woodbridge, 1992), 5598.

77 Sprockel, , Language of the Parker Chronicle, p. 105.

78 See SB, § 161 n.; Campbell, § 474, n. 1.

79 For text, translation and discussion of the manumission, see Keynes, S., ‘King Æthelstan's Books’, Learning and Literature in Anglo-Saxon England. Studies Presented to Peter Clemoes on the Occasion of his Sixty-Fifth Birthday, ed. Lapidge, M. and Gneuss, H. (Cambridge, 1985), pp. 143201, at 185–9; see also Dumville, , ‘The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle and the Origins of English Square Minuscule Script’, pp. 93–4.

80 For syncope of the vowel in the second syllable of disyllabic adjectives before an inflexional ending, see SB, § 296, n. 2 and Campbell, § 643.5.

81 Reader, p. 245.

82 Cf. SB, § 97, n. 1; Campbell, § 288.

83 Cf. Bülbring, Altenglisches Elementarbuch, § 170; SB, § 97, n. 2; Hogg, ch. 5.79(1).

84 The instances in the letter are: preterite: ðingade (3.2, ‘interceded’); āscade (6.3 and 11.2, ‘asked’); āndagade (6.6, ‘appointed a day’); fultemade (7.2, ‘helped’); āparade (10.3, ‘discovered’); past participle: gemōtad (8.5, ‘disputed’).

85 See SB, §§ 413–14; Campbell, § 757.

86 See Cosijn II, §§ 129–30.

87 See esp. the figures in Cosijn's Übersicht, ’, Altwestsächsische Grammatik II, 187–8 and 190.

88 Orosius, ed. Bately, , p. xlvii.

89 Bately, , Chronicle, p. cli lists twenty-four occurrences of-ad(e) in hand 1 and ten occurrences of-ad(e) in hand(s) 2. See also Sprockel, , language of the Parker Chronicle I, 223–4, 226–7 and 228–30.

90 Cf. SB, § 142; Campbell, § 385.

91 Cf. SB, § 364.2; Campbell, §§ 731c and 736d.

92 Cosijn II, § 76.

93 Bately, , Chronicle, p. cl.

94 Orosius, ed. Bately, , p. xlv.

95 Cf. SB, § 364.2, n. 4; Campbell, §§ 377 a nd 735e.

96 Cf. Cosijn II, § 76; Bately, , Chronicle, p. cli; Orosius, ed. Bately, , p. xlv.

97 Cf. Orosius, ed. Bately, , p. xlvi; see also SB, § 364.2, n. 4.

98 The instances are: wæran (4.3 and 5.9; ‘were’); ēodan (6.1, ‘went’); sædan (6.1, ‘said’); reahtan (6.2 [2 occ], ‘decided’); bæfdan (6.4, ‘had’); ridan (8.1, ‘rode’);gehy¯rdan (8.2, ‘heard’); cwædan (8.2, ‘said’); forgēafan (14.3, ‘granted’). The verbs ēodan and sædan (6.1) occur in an æ¯r-clause with a negative verb in the main clause, and therefore should be taken as indicative not as subjunctive forms; cf. Mitchell, B., Old English Syntax, 2 vols. (Oxford, 1985) II, §§ 2731–42, esp. 2731–4. The two instances of reahtan (6.2) occur in a dependent question in the form of a noun clause. As the governing verb is a verb of saying and the dependent question refers to a fact, it is almost certain that the indicative is used here; cf. Mitchell, Old English Syntax II, §§ 2093 and 2025. The remaining instances are all unambiguous indicative forms.

99 The instances are: ōðran (2.2, ‘other’); eallan (5.1, ‘all’); gemēdan (5.3, ‘suitable’); nānan (7.4, ‘no’); and mīnan (14.1, ‘my’).

100 In onspecendan (2.2, ‘claimants’) and bīdan (14.2, ‘hides’).

101 Cf. SB, §§ 237, n. 6 and 293, n. 2.

102 Campbell, § 378.

103 See Cosijn II, §§ 1, 13, 18, 30, 50, 51, 53 and 55.

104 See Bately, , Chronicle, pp. cl–clii.

105 See Orosius, ed. Bately, , p. xlv.

106 Cf. Campbell, §§ 377–8; Hogg, ch. 6.59–61; for the allophonic variation of [o] and [u], see Hogg, ch. 6.55–8.

107 However, as this is a long-syllable neuter noun (a–stem), and the ending -u in the nom. and ace. pl. was normally retained in nouns with short syllables only, the form gerāda might be explained as having switched to the ō–declension. According to SB, § 236, n. and Campbell, § 569, such declension changes occur, albeit mainly in late texts. They may, however, have occurred in spoken language from a considerably earlier time onwards.

108 See Orosius, ed. Bately, , p. xlv and SB, § 237, n. 5.

109 Campbell, § 379 dates it in the eleventh century, but according to Hogg, chs. 6.47 and 6.62, it probably occurred shortly after the merger of the unaccented back vowels.

110 For instances of such spellings and similar fluctuations in other inflexional endings, see Orosius, ed. Bately, , p. xlvi; see also Bately, , Chronicle, pp. clii–cliii.

111 See SB, § 337; Campbell, § 708.

112 Cf. SB, § 337, n. 2, § 187.

113 The occurrences are in 5.2, 5.5, 6.3, 7.1, 8.1, 9.1, 14.1 and 15.2.

114 At least neither Cosijn (II, § 61), nor Sprockel (Language of the Parker Chronicle I, 205–6), nor Bately, (Chronicle, pp. cxl–cxli for forms of the article in the Chronicle and the Orosius) list any occurrences of this form in the texts they have investigated.

115 See above, pp. 59–60.

116 Cf. SB, § 187; Campbell, § 378 and see, above, the discussion of the dative endings of adjectives and nouns. Note, however, that the vowel in the reduced dative form of the article is 〈o〉 (as in stressed position before a nasal) not 〈a〉 (as in inflexional endings).

117 Note that in Old English the paradigms of the definite article in the singular neuter and feminine, as well as in the plural (all genders), each have two identical inflexional forms: neuter nom. and acc. þæt; feminine gen. and dative þære; plural nom. and acc. þā. Note too, that instances of assimilation of the vowel of one form in the paradigm to that of another are attested in Old English texts, e.g. acc. sg. masc. þæne instead of þone, assimilated to genitive þæs, dative þæ¯m; see SB, § 337, n. 2; Campbell, § 708.

118 I would prefer to explain the unique occurrence ðes (gen. sg. neuter) for ðæs (the normal form in the letter) not as a Kenticism, but as a simple scribal error, caused, perhaps, by the ending of the following noun: ðes londes (9.2). For ðes as a possible Kentish form, see Wyatt, , Reader, p. 245, SB, §§ 52 and 337, n. 3 and Campbell, §§ 288 and 708. As a Kenticism it would be unique in the ‘Fonthill Letter’.

119 Note that syncope, elision and, additionally, assimilation are also frequently found in proper names, e.g. Æðelm for Æðethelm (1.1, 4.2, etc.), Æðered for Æðelred (2.1), Wihtbord for Wihtbrord (4.3 and 8.1), Æðeldryð for Æðelðryð (5.2 and 5.6). No doubt these spellings are also meant to represent contemporary pronunciations. None of the proper names in the letter which occur more than once has divergent spellings. This is even more remarkable, since proper names are very prone to variation, even within a single text and with good scribes; cf. Stanley, E. G., ‘Karl Luick's “Man schrieb wie man sprach” and English Historical Philology’, Luick Revisited, ed. Kastovsky, D. and Bauer, G. (Tübingen, 1988), pp. 311–34, at 316. Note further the assimilation, doubtless representing spoken forms, in 7 tu(12.2; for and ðū) and mit te (13.2; for mid ðe); otherwise the forms for the pronoun of the 2nd pers. sg. in the ‘Fonthill Letter’ are normal ðū and ðē.

120 See Die angelsächsischen Prosabearbeitungen der Benediktinerregel, ed. Schröer, A., Bibliothek der angelsächsischen Prosa 2, 2nd ed. with a suppl. by H. Gneuss (Darmstadt, 1964).

121 London, BL Stowe Charter 20 (S 1508). The will comes from Christ Church, Canterbury, but may not have been written there; cf. Brooks, N., The Early History of the Church of Canterbury. Christ Church from 597 to 1066 (Leicester, 1984), p. 173 and Dumville, D. N., ‘English Square Minuscule Script: the Background and the Earliest Phases’, ASE 16 (1987), 147–79, at 157–8. The will is edited in Select English Historical Documents of the Ninth and Tenth Centuries, ed. Harmer, F. E. (Cambridge, 1914), no. 10.

122 London, BL Cotton Charter VIII. 16 (S 1533); cf. Dumville, , ‘The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle and the Origins of English Square Minuscule Script’, pp. 7882; Parkes, M. B., ‘A Fragment of an Early-Tenth-Century Anglo-Saxon Manuscript and its Significance’, ASE 12 (1983), 129–40, at 137, n. 51; Dumville, , ‘English Square Minuscule Script’, pp. 170, n. 121 and 174 and Keynes, S., ‘Royal Government and the Written Word in Late Anglo-Saxon England’, The Uses of Literacy in Early Medieval Europe, ed. McKitterick, R. (Cambridge, 1990), pp. 226–57, at 252, n. 102. The will is edited in Anglo-Saxon Charters, ed. Robertson, A. J. (Cambridge, 1956), no. 26.

123 ‘Letter’, p. 58; see also ibid. pp. 61 and 95–6.

124 See below, pp. 95–8, for the educational background which Ealdorman Ordlaf might have had.

125 For an attempt to recover a few items of the Old English colloquial register from the Riddles as well as from semantic developments in Middle English, see von Lindheim, B., ‘Traces of Colloquial Speech in Old English’, Anglia 70 (1951), 2242. It is interesting that E. Okasha has recently noted a fairly high percentage of hapax legomena or words with otherwise unattested meanings in eleventh-century inscriptions; see her ‘The English Language in the Eleventh Century’, England in the Eleventh Century, ed. Hicks, C., Harlaxton Med. Stud. 2 (Stamford, 1992), 333–45, at 334–6 and 342–3.

126 See Die Gesetze der Angelsachsen, ed. Liebermann, F., 3 vols. (Halle, 18981916) II, 185, s. v. riht 4; cf. also the compounds listed ibid.: rihtfæsten ‘duly ordained fast’, rihtgifu ‘irrevocable gift’, etc.

127 For an examination of the problem, see ‘Letter’, p. 87; cf. also ibid. p. 55, n. 16 for references to opinions of previous editors.

128 ‘Letter’, p. 85.

129 ‘7 mon gerehte ðæt yrfe cinge forðon he wæs cinges mon’ (11.3: ‘and the property was adjudged to the king, because he was the king's man’).

130 See ‘Letter’, p. 85.

131 Whitelock's remark could be taken to point in that direction: ‘it is not unparalleled for a drafter of a document to vary between the first and the third person’ (English Historical Documents I, 544).

132 See BT, s.v. tōrīpan; Holthausen, F., Altenglisches etymologisches Wörterbuch (Heidelberg, 1934), s.v. rīepan; Kluge, F., Etymologisches Wörterbuch der deutschen Sprache, 22nd ed. rev. Seebold, E. (Berlin, 1989), s. v. raufen.

133 Cf. SB, § 103; Campbell, § 199.

134 Cf. SB, § 104; Campbell, § 200. OE ry¯pan is apparently derived from the same root as Gothic raupjan, etc., but with vowel gradation: Prim. Germ, ū occurs besides Prim. Ger. eu in the present of strong verbs, class II; Prim Germ. au is the ablaut in the sg. pret. of these verbs. Cf. SB, § 385; Campbell, § 736.b; Krause, W., Handbuch des Gotischen, 3rd ed. (Munich, 1968), § 83; and Kluge-Seebold, Etymologisches Wörterbuch, s. v. Raub.

135 Cf. OED, s. v. ripe, vb 2.

136 German rauben and raufen are explained as stemming from the same Primitive Germanic root, but with varying post-vocalic consonants; see Kluge-Seebold, Etymologisches Wörterbuch, s. vv. Raub and raufen.

137 Select English Historical Documents, p. 32 (line 5).

138 Reader, p. 114 (line 330).

139 See di Paolo Healey, A. and Venezky, R. L., A Microfiche Concordance to Old English, Publ. of the Dictionary of Old English 1 (Toronto, 1980); BT and BTS, s. v. brēmel etc. (BTS quote the occurrence in the ‘Fonthill Letter’ with emendation: brēmber); CHM, s. vv. brēmel and brēmbel, and Dictionary of Old English, ed. Cameron, A. et al. (Toronto, 1986), s. v. brēmel etc.

140 Cf. Campbell, § 478.1; intrusion of b must originally have occurred in inflected forms, e.g. brēmlasbrēmblas.

141 We might rule out the possibility that brēber should be explained as resulting from an erroneous omission of an abbreviation mark for m above the vowel e, since this type of abbreviation is used nowhere else in the ‘Fonthill Letter’. Note, moreover, a similar loss of preconsonantal n in two occurrences of possessive pronouns (mire [4.1] and ði ‘n’ ra [14.1]; corrected by superscipt n) which may well have some claim of representing spoken forms. Incidentally, loss of n before r is labelled as ‘late West Saxon’ by the grammars; see SB, § 188, n. 5; Campbell, § 474.3.

142 Harrison, T. P., The Separable Prefixes in Anglo-Saxon, PhD diss., Johns Hopkins Univ. (Baltimore, 1892; repr. College Park, MD, 1970); see pp. 2932 for the prefix on-. For a brief treatment of these prefixes in the context of prepositions, adverbs and related particles, see Mitchell, , Old English Syntax I, §§ 1060–80, esp. 1072; see also Mitchell, B., ‘Prepositions, Adverbs, Postpositions, Separable Prefixes or Inseparable Prefixes in Old English’, NM 79 (1978), 240–57, esp. 246–7.

143 Harrison, , ‘Separable Prefixes’, p. 32.

144 Ordlaf had already (section 8) vented his exasperation at the turn which events had taken, when he expressed outrage at the idea that any of the judgements King Alfred had given should be subject to revision.

145 For a discussion of the adequacy of the reeve's course of action and of the ensuing decision of a court of justice, as well as of the reasons for Ordlaps possible annoyance, see ‘Letter’, pp. 83–5. For frictions between ealdormen and reeves, see also Keynes, S., ‘Crime and Punishment in the Reign of Æthelred the Unready’, People and Places in Northern Europe 500–1600: Essays in Honour of Peter Hayes Sawyer, ed. Wood, I. and Lund, N. (Woodbridge, 1991), pp. 6781, at 7980.

146 See ‘Letter’, p. 78, n. 100 for a listing of these translations.

147 Both s. v. spyreman; s. v. sporwrecel BT has a tentative translation of the whole sentence, which is similar to the Whitelock-Keynes rendering given above: ‘the man who tracked him rescued the cattle that had been driven off’.

148 Cf. SB, §§ 102 and 31, n. 1; Campbell, §§ 199 and 288.

149 For the allegedly Kentish form engu, see above, p. 69; for ðes as a questionable Kenticism, see above, p. 75, n. 118.

150 Cf. Koziol, H., Handbuch der englischen Wortbildungslehre, 2nd ed. (Heidelberg, 1972), pp. 188–91 and Kastovsky, D., ‘Semantics and Vocabulary’, The Cambridge History of the English Language. I, The Beginnings to 1066, ed. Hogg, R. M. (Cambridge, 1992), 290408, at 385–6.

151 See Carr, C. T., Nominal Compounds in Germanic (Oxford, 1939), pp. 175–6 and 189–93; Koziol, , Handbuch der englischen Wortbildungslehre, p. 65; [H. Krahe and] Meid, W., Germanische Sprachwissenschaft. III: Wortbildungslehre (Berlin, 1967), § 33; Sauer, H., ‘Die Darstellung von Komposita in altenglischen Wörterbuchern’, Problems in Old English Lexicography. Studies in Memory of Angus Cameron, ed. Bammesberger, A. (Regensburg, 1985), pp. 267315, at 279; and Sauer, H., Nominalkomposition im Frühmittelenglischen, Buchreihe der Anglia 30 (Tü;bingen, 1992), 185–95, esp. 188.

152 Cf. Carr, , Nominal Compounds, pp. 189–91.

153 See ibid. p. 191; tyrngeat could, however, also be explained as predicate and object.

154 See ibid.: ‘the first part denotes the purpose of the second’.

155 Cf. Carr, , Nominal Compounds, p. 162; Sauer, , Nominalkomposition, pp. 150–1; Koziol, , Handbuch der englischen Wortbildungslebre, p. 51; Marchand, H., The Categories and Types of Present-Day English Word-Formation, 2nd ed. (Heidelberg, 1969), pp. 60–1 and Kastovsky, , ‘Semantics and Vocabulary’, pp. 365–9.

156 See Middle English Dictionary, ed. Kurath, H. et al. (Ann Arbor, MI, 1952-), s. v. spere (n. 1) 3(b) ‘an oxegoad, a prod’.

157 As in the well-known gloss to Ælfric's Colloquy, ed. Garmonsway, G. N., 2nd ed. (London, 1947), p. 21, line 29.

158 See ibid. pp. 20–1.

159 See e.g. London, BL Cotton Tiberius B. v, 3r; cf. Ohlgren, T. H., Insular and Anglo-Saxon Illuminated Manuscripts. An Iconographic Catalogue c. A.D. 625 to 1100 (New York, 1986), no. 192.2. For a facsimile of the manuscript, see An Eleventh-Century Illustrated Miscellany, ed. McGurk, P. et al. , EEMF 21 (1983). See also London, BL Cotton Julius A. vi, 3r; cf. Ohlgren, Iconographic Catalogue, no. 167.1; for a facsimile, see, Eleventh-Century Miscellany, ed. McGurk, , pl. ix, no. 67.

160 See e.g. London, BL Harley 603, 21 r; cf. Ohlgren, Iconographic Catalogue, no. 169.39. For facsimiles, see Wormald, F., English Drawings of the Tenth and Eleventh Centuries (London, 1953), pl. 12b and Ohlgren, T. H., Anglo-Saxon Textual Illustration. Photographs of Sixteen Manuscripts with Description and Index (Kalamazoo, MI, 1992), p. 183. See also Harley 603, 51v and 66r; cf. Ohlgren, Iconographic Catalogue, nos. 169.69 and 169.96; photographs in Ohlgren, , Anglo-Saxon Textual Illustration, pp. 211 and 233; for 51 v, see also The Golden Age of Anglo-Saxon Art 966–1066, ed. Backhouse, J. et al. (London, 1984), pl. xix.

161 See B T, s. v. sperehealf; BTS, s. v. sperehand.

162 See above, n. 147.

163 Corresponding to Latin calcaria, in the gloss to Ælfric's Colloquy, ed. Garmonsway, , p. 35, line 173. For a survey of the treatment of the composition vowel – i.e. the final vowel of the first element of Germanic compounds – see Carr, , Nominal Compounds in Germanic, pp. 268 and 281–98. In Old English (as in other Germanic languages) nouns which retain this vowel (e.g. metefæt ‘dish’ or spereman in our interpretation) occur side by side with those having dropped it at an early date. Such would have been the case in spurleper as well as in sporwrecel, irrespective of whether spor represents spor (neuter a–stem) or spura (masc. n–stem); see also Campbell, §§ 348–9.

164 The variant Primitive Germanic forms of the suffix are due to gradation of its medial vowel; cf. Meid, Wortbildungslehre, § 87. Old English variant forms of the suffix are -ele, -ela, -ol.

165 Cf. Meid, Wortbildungslehre, § 87 Koziol, , Handbuch der englischen Wortbildungslehre, pp. 198–9; Marchand, , Categories and Types of Present-Day English Word-Formation, p. 324; Kastovsky, , ‘Semantics and Vocabulary’, pp. 384–5; OED s. v. -le, suffix.

166 See, for instance, the oxen in Cotton Tiberius B. v, 3r and cf. the description by McGurk, in Eleventh-Century Miscellany, p. 40. For further drawings of harnessed oxen, see e.g. Cotton Julius A. vi, 3r (Ohlgren, Iconographic Catalogue, no. 167.1; facsimile in Eleventh-Century Miscellany, pi. ix, no. 67); Harley 603, 51 v, 54v and 66r (Ohlgren, Iconographic Catalogue, nos. 169.69, 169.73 and 169.96; photographs in Ohlgren, , Textual Illustration, pp. 211, 215 and 233); Oxford, Bodleian Library, Junius 11, pp. 54 and 77 (Ohlgren, Iconographic Catalogue, nos. 163.29 and 163.45; photographs in Ohlgren, , Textual Illustration, pp. 553 and 569) and London, BL Cotton Claudius B. iv, 67r (Ohlgren, Iconographic Catalogue, no. 191. 213; facsimile in The Old English Illustrated Hexateuch, ed. Dodwell, C. R. and Clemoes, P., EEMF 18 (1974); see also ibid. pl. xii (a)). Unfortunately, in these illustrations the way in which the oxen are linked together and to the plough or cart is not always as clear as one might wish.

167 See 10.1–2: ‘ða forstæl he ða unlædan oxen æt Funtial’ (‘he stole the untended oxen at Fonthill’).

168 Cf. SB, § 366.1 and Campbell, § 731 n., for loss of prefix; SB, § 406 and Campbell, § 751.3 for syncope in the preterite suffix.

169 There is some confusion in the dictionary entries, perhaps owing to the rather uncertain etymology of the word with the hypothetical meaning ‘stray’. Whereas BT have two lemmata, unlæ¯d(e) ‘wretched’, etc., and unlæ¯de ‘? stray’, CHM subsume both meanings under one lemma.

170 See Liebermann, Gasetze II, s. v. ‘Spurfolge’ and ibid. I, e.g. II Edward ch. 4; V Æthelstan ch. 2; VI Æthelstan ch. 4; VI Æthelstan ch. 8.4, 8.7 and 8.8; and III Edmund ch. 6.

171 Note that ‘recapture’ is found among the meanings of āhreddan only in CHM, and is not listed by BT or BTS. But even if this sense is not clearly attested in Old English, the more common meanings ‘to save, to rescue’ could account for the use āhreddan in this context. Moreover, note that ‘to set free’ is also a well-attested meaning for āhreddan. It might just be conceivable that a sense ‘to let loose, unleash’ could have been derived from that meaning. Some evidence for such a sense could be found among the quotations adduced by the Middle English Dictionary and the OED; see Middle Engl. Dict., s. v. redden, v. (b) and OED, s. v. redd, vb 1. In that case Ordlaf had referred to the speremon's activities at the beginning of the chase.

172 See e.g. 3.1–2, 5.4, 6.1 and 6.5.

173 See e.g. 1.1, 4.3, and 5.7.

174 Cf. e.g. 3.1, 4.1, 4.5 and 7.3.

175 See bið 8.3, 15.2 and is 15.1; cf. Campbell, § 768d for usage.

176 For example, the recipient would have known the size of Helmstan's estate at Tisbury (see section 11 and ‘Letter’, pp. 81–3) and certainly understood what insegel meant (see section 13 and ‘Letter’, pp. 88–9).

177 See sections 9, 12, 14 and above, pp. 79–80.

178 See section 3 where Ordlaf points out that he had stood at Helmstan's confirmation ‘ær he ða undæde gedyde’ ‘before he commited that crime’. Again, in section 7 he says that he would help Helmstan ‘næfre to nanan wo’ ‘never to any wrong’; and in section 9 he stresses that he had leased Fonthill to Helmstan on the condition that he ‘hine wolde butan bysmore gehealdan’ ‘(that) he would keep himself out of disgrace’.

179 See ‘Letter’, p. 71 and n. 80. Keynes also drew attention to the fact that Ordlaf made ‘even less of an attempt to explain the basis of Æthelhelm's claim’ (ibid. pp. 71–2). Here, however, Ordlaf might have felt no need for an explanation, since Æthelhelm Higa himself would have been expected to detail his claim in the pending lawsuit.

180 ‘Letter’, p. 77; cf. also p. 64.

181 See ibid. p. 78. To put it briefly, this time span results from the fact that Æthelhelm Higa's first suit against Helmstan was conducted during King Alfred's reign, whereas the theft of the Fonthill oxen, which occurred eighteen months or two years after the settlement of the first dispute (see section 10), fell in the reign of King Edward.

182 See ‘Letter’, p. 95.

183 See ibid. pp. 93–4. Note that the evaluation of the charter evidence is complicated by the fact that no charters have survived from the second half of Edward's reign, i.e. 910–924. Ealdorman Ordlaf was apparently dead by the year 924, for he does not attest any charters from Æthelstan's reign; see ‘Letter’, p. 58.

184 ‘Letter’, p. 94. To those phrases adduced by Keynes one might add two further instances. In section 5 Ordlaf again is rather vague where names of people are concerned. The charter entitling Oswulf to Fonthill is signed by King Alfred, Edward, Æthelnoth, Deormod and ‘each of the men whom one wished to have’. (Cf. his statement in section 4: ‘and more men than I can now name’ with reference to the arbitrators in Helmstan's first suit.) In section 11 Ordlaf refers once more to a thegn who evidently no longer occupies the office he held at the time of the main events of the letter: ‘Eanulf Penearding … wæs gerefa’ (cf. his reference to Ælfric, the former hræglðn, in section 4).

185 See ‘Letter’, p. 78.

186 Denewulf was bishop until 909.

187 S 1284; see ‘Letter’, pp. 89–90, for a discussion of details of the charter and the problems connected with its authenticity.

188 ‘that matters may remain as they are now arranged and as they had been arranged long ago’.

189 See BT, BTS and CHM. D. Whitelock's translation of gefyrn as ‘before’ (which has been retained by S. Keynes) may have been influenced by her dating the letter ‘probably early in [Edward's] reign’ (English Historical Documents, p. 544), i.e. soon after the events which led to Ordlaf' acquisition and ensuing disposal of Fonthill. Such an indeterminate sense ‘before, earlier’ for gefyrn is, however, restricted to a few clearly defined contexts, as ‘in reference to a previous part of a treatise or discourse’(BTS).

190 ‘Letter’, p. 95.

191 See Dumville, , ‘Anglo-Saxon Square Minuscule Script’. The ‘Fonthill Letter’ is mentioned at p. 171; and see Dumville, , ‘The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle and the Origins of English Square Minuscule Script’, pp. 55139; for the ‘Fonthill Letter’, cf. p. 96, n. 206. For a discussion of the dating of Square minuscule, phase I, cf. ibid. pp. 72–83 and 88–98. Here phase I is called the script ‘of the 920s’ (p. 95); in ‘Anglo-Saxon Square Minuscule Script’, p. 171, it is described as ‘certainly being written in, and probably throughout, the 920s, it may also have been written in the 910s, but here the evidence is less clear’. See also ‘Letter’, pp. 58 and 61.

192 See ‘Letter’, pp. 91–2, 95 and n. 173 for Keynes's arguments against Winchester as a likely place of origin for the letter.

193 See e.g. Wormald, P., ‘The Uses of Literacy in Anglo-Saxon England and its Neighbours’, TRHS 5th ser. 27 (1977), 95114; Keynes, , ‘Royal Government and the Written Word in Late Anglo-Saxon England’, Uses of Literacy, ed. McKitterick, , pp. 226–57; S. Kelly, ‘Anglo-Saxon Lay Society and the Written Word’, ibid. pp. 36–62. For a brief survey of research on lay literacy in the wider perspective of medieval Europe, see McKitterick, ‘Introduction’, ibid. pp. 1–10, at 1–6. Cf. also the seminal article on education in Anglo-Saxon England by Bullough, D. A., ‘The Educational Tradition in England from Alfred to Ælfric: Teaching utriusque linguae’, SettSpol 19 (1972), 453–93 (updated and repr. in his Carolingian Renewal: Sources and Heritage (Manchester, 1991), pp. 297334). See further the surveys by Lapidge, M., ‘Schools, Learning and Literature in Tenth-Century England’, SettSpol 38 (1991), 9511005 (updated and repr. in his Anglo-Latin Literature 900–1066 (London, 1993), pp. 148) and Gneuss, H., ‘Bücher und Leser in England im zehnten Jahrhundert’, Medialität und mittelalterliche insulare Literatur, ed. Tristram, H. L. C. (Tübingen, 1992), pp. 104–30 – both of which deal with the issue of lay literacy in the wider perspective of a renaissance of learning in tenth-century England.

194 This is the tenor of Keynes's and Kelly's articles (see above, n. 193), but cf. Wormald, (as in n. 193 above, at pp. 102–14) who takes a more sceptical view of the issue; see also Wormald, P., ‘Lex Scripta and Verbum Regis: Legislation and Germanic Kingship from Euric to Cnut’, Early Medieval Kingship, ed. Sawyer, P. H. and Wood, I. N. (Leeds, 1977), pp. 105–38, at 115–25. The expression ‘pragmatic literacy’ which by now has become an established technical term in the literature on that subject, was first coined by Parkes, M. B., ‘The Literacy of the Laity’, Literature and Western Civilisation: The Medieval World, ed. Daiches, D. and Thorlby, A. K. (London, 1973), pp. 555–76(updated and repr. in his Scribes, Scripts and Readers (London, 1991), pp. 275–97) with regard to post-Conquest English society and refers to ‘the literacy of one who has to read or write in the course of transacting any kind of business’ (p. 555).

195 Cf. King Alfred's West-Saxon Version of Gregory's Pastoral Care, ed. Sweet, H., 2 vols., EETS os 45 and 50 (London, 18711872) 1, 28 (text and translation). For a fresh translation, see Keynes, S. and Lapidge, M., Alfred the Great: Asser's ‘Life of King Alfred’ and Other Comtemporary Sources (Harmondsworth, 1983), pp. 124–6 (translation) and 293–6 (notes).

196 See Asser's Life of King Alfred, ed. Stevenson, W. H. (Oxford, 1904) and Keynes, and Lapidge, , Alfred the Great, pp. 65110 (translation) and 223–75 (notes).

197 See Asser, ch. 75 (Stevenson, , p. 58; Keynes, and Lapidge, p. 90); see also Keynes, and Lapidge, , Alfred the Great, ‘Introduction’, pp. 35–6 for Alfred's school and his interest in the spreading of literacy. According to Asser (ch. 75), his eldest son Edward and one of his daughters, Ælfthryth, received a more private tuition, which, however, also included learning to read books.

198 See Asser, ch. 102 (Stevenson, , pp. 88–9; Keynes, and Lapidge, , p. 107). Note that here again Asser stresses that not only the sons of the aristocracy were taught at that school. Once again, in ch. 106 (Stevenson, , p. 94; Keynes, and Lapidge, , p. 110), he states that even servants, freemen and slaves had been taught to read by Alfred's teachers.

199 Cf. Asser, ch. 76 (Stevenson, , p. 60; Keynes, and Lapidge, , p. 91).

200 For a convenient summary of the doubts that have been expressed about the authenticity of Asser's text, with references to further literature, see Keynes, and Lapidge, , Alfred the Great, pp. 50–1. By now it has been firmly established that the Life is a contemporary document.

201 See e.g. Wormald, , ‘Uses of Literacy’, p. 95.

202 Cf. Keynes, and Lapidge, , Alfred the Great, p. 239, n. 46 for a discussion of Alfred's literacy as it is recorded by Asser.

203 The school is described in some detail in ch. 75, whereas the arrival of the Mercian and foreign helpers at Alfred's court is related in chs.77–9. Asser's wording at the beginning of ch. 77 would seem to imply that the school had already been in existence by the time the first helpers arrived. This chronology is also advocated by Keynes, and Lapidge, , Alfred the Great, p. 239, n. 46.

204 For these dates, see Keynes, and Lapidge, , Alfred the Great, pp. 26–8.

205 For a summary of Alfred's campaigns in the 870s, see ibid, pp. 18–23.

206 For the date of Asser's Life, see ibid., p. 269, n. 218.

207 Cf. Asser, ch. 106 (Stevenson, , p. 94; Keynes, and Lapidge, , p. 110). For evidence of the beginning of a revival of English scholarship already in the last decade of Alfred's reign, see Lapidge, , ‘Schools, Learning and Literature in Tenth-Century England’, pp. 957–62.

208 See ‘Letter’, pp. 57–8.

209 I am grateful to Helmut Gneuss and Michael Lapidge for their encouragement and many valuable suggestions, and to Ursula Lenker, who helped me to eliminate a number of errors. I should also like to thank Simon Keynes, without whose brilliant edition the philologist would never have realized that another Alfred jewel could be found among the oxen at Fonthill.

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