Nowell Codex

Nowell Codex

England (United Kingdom) — Late 10th or early 11th century and second half of the 12th century

Nowell Codex

  1. Description
  2. Facsimile Editions (1)
Nowell Codex

Beowulf is one of the most important and most translated works of Old English literature and has survived in only a single manuscript: the Nowell Codex, named after the English antiquarian and scholar of Anglo-Saxon literature Laurence Nowell (1530 – ca.1570). The manuscript dates from the late 10th century or early 11th century and was nearly lost in a fire in 1731. Thankfully, it survived and has been extensively studied by generations of academics including J. R. R. Tolkien, famous author of the Lord of the Rings. The manuscript is the only written record of the story set in 6th century Scandinavia, and many scholars including Tolkien argue that it comes from an oral tradition that stretches back to the 8th century. Aside from Beowulf, the Nowell Codex also contains Wonders of the East, Letters of Alexander to Aristotle, a poetic translation of Judith, and a fragment of The Life of Saint Christopher. All of these works are connected by the same thematic link: monsters and monstrous behavior.


Alternative Titles
Southwick Codex
Size / Format
209 folios / 24.5 × 18.5 cm
Late 10th or early 11th century and second half of the 12th century
The manuscript contains two separate collections of Old English texts, bound together for Sir Robert Cotton:
ff. 4r-93v: Southwick Codex (Old English adaptation of Augustine of Hippo's Soliloquia, Old English version of the Gospel of Nicodemus, prose Dial

Available facsimile editions:
Facsimile Editions

#1 The Nowell Codex

Commentary: 1 volume by Malone Kemp
Language: English
1 volume: Exact reproduction of the original document (extent, color and size) Reproduction of the entire original document as detailed as possible (scope, format, colors). The binding may not correspond to the original or current document binding.
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