Leeds International Medieval Congress 2014

  • Sean Dunnahoe (Participant)

Activity: Participating in or organising an eventParticipation in conference


Early chant book fragments in Sweden and the question of local production

The traditional assumption on the history of book production in Sweden is that it really begins in the thirteenth century; several scholars across disciplines have challenged this view since the 1970s, but the tradition still holds fast enough that the eleventh- and twelfth-century fragments in the Swedish National Archives are still regularly attributed an English, German, or French provenance when at least some of them could very well be local products. In Helmut Gneuss and Drew Hartzell's catalogues these traditional attributions have been maintained (in their cases to England), but the manuscripts involved almost invariably contain distinctly non-English material, or use hybrid scripts and neums which combine Anglo-Saxon and French or German practices, often outdated by the time of production—and in a hand that is less trained than is found in other English sources from that period. Michael Gullick and Jan Brunius, however, have already argued that whilst Sweden may not have had any large scriptoria like those seen in England or the continent until later, its monasteries were actively producing royal and administrative documents in liturgical book hand by the 1160s and likely even earlier, and therefore it is sufficient to assume that they had the capability and wherewithal to produce their own liturgical books at that time, as well. For this paper I will attempt to support this argument by discussing the hybridised styles of music notation in several fragments that have heretofore been assumed to be poorly-copied English exports with bizarre inconsistencies (including, among others, Stockholm, Riksarkivet, A 128, Fr 2070, Fr 2688, and Fr 26026). Through an analysis and comparison of their notations, I will demonstrate that these fragments are not anomalies sporting incongruous Anglo-Saxon, French, and German neume shapes, but are a distinctly Swedish style of notation that emerged in the twelfth century.

Scandinavian aspects of 'empire' VI: Reckoning with the past
Period31 Jul 2014
Event typeConference
LocationLeeds, United KingdomShow on map


  • Chant
  • Medieval
  • Manuscripts
  • Scandinavia
  • Liturgy
  • Music