How old is the beowulf manuscript?

Updated: November 28, 2022
The beowulf manuscript is over 1000 years old and is one of the oldest surviving manuscripts in the English language.
Detailed answer:

The Beowulf manuscript is one of the most well-known texts of the Middle Ages, though there is very little known about its early history. The first known copy was owned by the Dean of Litchfield in 1563. It was then taken by Sir Robert Cotton in the 17th century and moved to Ashburnham House in Westminister. Sir Cotton’s heirs eventually deposited the manuscript in the British Library after a fire in Ashburnham House. It was then transcribed twice by the Norwegian scholar Grimur Jonsson Thorkelin. Today, Beowulf is one of the oldest poems in English, and is considered one of the first literary masterpieces. It has survived over 1000 years in one vellum codex, and its brittle and scorched edges are indicative of its age. Today, the Beowulf manuscript is preserved at the British Library, where it is available to visitors. Despite its age, there is considerable debate about its exact composition. Some scholars believe it was written during the 6th century CE, while others claim it was written in the early 11th century CE. Some scholars suggest that the original poem was written by a monk, who wanted to promote heroic virtues. The manuscript itself is estimated to be around 1000 years old, and was created by two scribes. While the exact dating is unknown, it is believed that the Beowulf manuscript has undergone as many adventures as the epic poem itself. In addition to Beowulf, the Beowulf manuscript has many other medieval texts. Among the other texts in the collection are a homily on St. Christopher, ‘Marvels of the East’ (which contains depictions of deformed monsters and wondrous beasts), and a letter from Alexander to Aristotle. Beowulf itself is the penultimate piece in the collection, copied by two Anglo-Saxon scribes working together.

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