Reference numberMS/45
TitleAlmanack with liturgical and astronomical calendars, together with illustrated monthly labours and figures of the zodiac
DescriptionA calendar on a sheet of parchment folded once lengthwise and then 21 times in a concertina pattern to create a strip with two back-to-back exterior sides of 24 rectangular compartments each (two of which are lost), and 48 corresponding interior compartments (two of which are lost).

In both rows on one side, is a perpetual, liturgical calendar running from January to December and marking saints' days and Christian festivals. Each month is represented in a table spread across four compartments with a line representing each day of the month. The second half of Janury is missing. The ruling is in red and green inks. Feast days are colour-coded according to their importance, with those written in blue ink being the most important Marian feasts, followed by other major feasts such as Christmas in red ('red letter days'), evangelists', apostles' and martyrs' days in green, and finally the lesser feasts in black. Entries in red include Edwardii Regis and Translatio Edwardi Regis (20 March, 13 October); in black, Translatio Mildride (13 July). Each feast is illustrated by a conventional head, sideways, in coloured penwork: kings crowned, abbots tonsured etc. and accompanied by their symbol (keys for St Peter, a lion for Mark the apostle etc.)

On the other side, the other way up: (a) above the cardinal fold, the sign of the zodiac in each month, followed by its occupation, mostly agricultural in character - picking apples, slaughtering livestock etc.; (b) below the cardinal fold, an astronomical calendar, 1 January to 15 June on 22 compartments, four to a month. Each monthly tables lists the following in columns: the day of the month (in arabic numerals), the dominical letter (a method used to determine the day of the week for particular dates based on when the first Sunday fell in the year), the Roman calendar organised by Kalends, Nones and Ides (used throughout the Middle Ages), the Golden Number (used to indicate the dates of all the calendric new moons from which the dates of moveable feasts such as Easter are calculated), the length of the night (nox) and the length of the day in hours and minutes, the rising of the Sun ('Sol' the sun's angle at sunrise in relation to the ecliptic) and the date, hour and minute in a year on which the conjunction of the sun and moon will occur for three 19 year cycles.

(a) The January sign and occupation are missing. The December occupation came on the fold which was exposed when the sheet was closed and has been rubbed away.
(b) The first two folds were left blank.
Extent1 volume, MS Very Small (vol)
Physical descriptionVellum, folding sheet. When closed measures 97 x 62 mm and when open twenty four times 62mm in width and twice 97mm in height. Originally two rows, each of twenty four folds, but the first folds in the lower row ( lower if the sheet is looked at from the side containing art) are missing and the first fold in the upper row has been sewn to the foot of the second fold. Three membranes were joined to make a sheet.
Dimensions97x62 mm (closed) 194x1,488 mm (fully opened)
NotesThe calendar has been dated by Pamela Robinson, Institute of English Studies, University of London. She determined a likely date range of 1383 to 1415 based on certain saints' days. St Anne, mother of the Virgin, whose feast was established in England in 1383 is represented on the calendar but David and Chad, adopted in 1415, are not. St George's day is listed in black, as a minor feast day, suggesting a date before the elevation of his feast to a 'red letter day', which took place after the battle of Agincourt in 1415. Analysis of the pigments by 'Team Pigment' of Durham and Northumbria universities in 2021 identified the presence of orpiment, an arsenic-based yellow compound that fell out of use by the 15th century suggesting a date before 1400.
Access statusOpen
Related materialSee N R KER 'Medieval Manuscripts in British Libraries; I London' (1969) Oxford. Clarendon Press.
P Robinson, 'A 'very curious Almanack'; the gift of Sir Robert Moray FRS, 1688'. in NR 2008 vol 62 pp 301-314
URL descriptionDigital surrogate video
Images available on picture library
Fellows associated with this archive
NA8261Moray; Sir; Robert (1608 - 1673); army officer and politician1608 - 1673
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