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Codex Aureus

The Codex Aureus ("Golden Gospels") was written in the mid-eighth century and is now in the Royal Library at Stockholm. Above and below the Latin text of the Gospel of St. Matthew is an added inscription in Old English recording how, a hundred years later, the manuscript was ransomed from a Viking army who had stolen it on one of their raids in Kent by Alfred, ealdorman of Surrey, and his wife Wærburh and given to Christ Church, Canterbury. It reads,

"In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. I, Ealdorman Alfred and Wærburh my wife obtained these books from the heathen army with our pure money, that was with pure gold, and this we did for the love of God and for the benefit of our souls and because we did not wish these holy books to remain longer in heathen possession. And now they wish to give them to Christ Church to the praise and glory and honour of God..."

The codex is richly decorated, with vellum leaves that alternately are dyed and undyed, the purple-dyed leaves written with gold, silver, and white pigment, the undyed ones with black ink and red pigment.

Alfred's will, which was drawn up between AD 871 and 888 and declared before King Alfred and his council, is one of the earliest to survive.

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