Academic journal article Medium Aevum

Symeon and Durham, Historian of Durham and the North

Academic journal article Medium Aevum

Symeon and Durham, Historian of Durham and the North

Article excerpt

Symeon of Durham, Historian of Durham and the North, ed. David Rollason, Studies in North-Eastern History r (Stamford: Shaun Tyas, y98). xix + ;G2 pp.; 64, plates. ISBN I--871615--96-8. L65.00.

This publication of sixteen pieces presented by twelve scholars at a Durham seminar on Symeon in April 1995 comes with an introduction by the editor setting their contributions in context. The black and white photographs illustrate the original manuscripts they had privileged access to. Since the seminar papers naturally reported work in progres, the book does not aim to deliver a definitive view of Symeon. Nevertheless by identifying Symeon's hand in over forty Durham manuscripts Michael Gullick provides an outline career for him as scribe, rubricator, and author at Durham for over thirty years. Works certainly written by him concerning the church of York and the doubts of theologians about the orthodoxy of Origen are shown by Richard Sharpe to demonstrate Symeon's manner of compiling `pamphlets', when called upon, by the extraction of excerpts from manuscripts in the library. A similarly compiled work on Durham's historic claims over the church of Carlisle, Sharpe persuasively attributes to Symeon. In a parallel study, Joanna Story assigns responsibility for several annalistic works to him. All this makes it easier to see how he became involved with the community's efforts in the early twelfth century to compose a history of the religious community charged with custody of St Cuthbert's relics. Christopher Norton, in the longest piece of the book about the compilation of the `Sawley' manuscript probably produced at Durham for Bishop Puiset, argues that it was a collective effort by the monks and that it is inappropriate to think of a single author for it. …

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