Artistic Treasures of Manuscripts

Discover the literary and artist treasures in the manuscript collections of The National Library of Wales

By The National Library of Wales

National Library of Wales

Medieval Astronomy (1001-1100)The National Library of Wales

A rich and varied collection

The National Library of Wales care for important manuscripts from all over Europe and beyond. This, our earliest scientific manuscript was probably written in the milieu of Adémar de Chabannes in Limoges, France around the year 1000. (NLW MS 735C)

The Battles of Alexander the Great (15th Century)The National Library of Wales

The highly decorative Latin text of Historia de preliis Alexandri Magni ‘The History of Alexander’s Battles’, is a 15th century text based on a 10th century translation into Latin by Leo of Naples.

The Hengwrt Chaucer (1395/1405) by Geoffrey Chaucer (c.1343–1400)The National Library of Wales

One of our greatest treasures. The 'Hengwrt Chaucer' contains Geoffrey Chaucer's famous Canterbury Tales and was written by Chaucer’s associate Adam Pinkhurst, c.1400.
Peniarth MS 392D

The earliest manuscript of 'Hen Wlad fy Nhadau', the national anthem of Wales, 1856 (January 1856) by James James (1833-1902) and Evan James (1809-1878)The National Library of Wales

An 1899 recording of the Welsh national anthem, "Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau"

One of our most treasured Welsh language manuscripts is the earliest copy of the Welsh national anthem 'Hen wlad fy nhadau' in the handwriting of the composer, James James (1833-1902)

The Laws of Hywel Dda (Mid 13th century)The National Library of Wales

The Laws of Hywel Dda

One of our most iconic Welsh manuscripts. This 13th century Latin text records the medieval laws of Wales as codified by the 10th century King Hywel Dda (Hywel the Good), who is pictured here upon his throne. Peniarth MS 28

Yr Arwr, Hedd Wyn (1917) by Evans, Ellis HumphreyThe National Library of Wales

The ode ‘Yr Arwr’ (The Hero) in the hand of Hedd Wyn (Ellis Humphrey Evans), which won him the chair at the Birkenhead National Eisteddfod following his death at Passchendaele in 1917. NLW MS 4628C

Sherbrooke Missal (1310/1320)The National Library of Wales

The Sherbrooke Missal

This beautiful Missal made from parchment dates back to c. 1310 - c. 1320 and originates from East Anglia. It is considered a very important manuscript as it is one of the earliest examples of a Missal of an English source. This manuscript belonged to the library of the Sherbrooke family in Oxton, Nottinghamshire from the 16th century through to the 19th century, and it is from here that its name derives. NLW MS 15536E

Llanbeblig Book of Hours (1390/1400)The National Library of Wales

A highly decorative image of The Virgin Mary and a rare 'Lily Crucifiction' from the Llanbeblig Book of Hours, c.1390-1400. NLW MS 17520A

The Case of Dorothy Griffith and Witchcraft (1656) by Court of Great SessionsThe National Library of Wales

Welsh Witchcraft Trials

Documenting a sad chapter in Welsh history is a series of court records for Witchcraft trials, which took place in Flintshire in the 17th century. Here we have the records of the trial of Dorothy Griffith of Llanasa. She stood accused of, bewitching neighbors and livestock and  'not havinge the feare of God before her eyes but by the instigacion of the Divell...'.  The influential men of Llanasa rallied to the aid of Dorothy and she was eventually acquitted. However there were 5 executions for Witchcraft in Wales during this period.  

John Harries Cwrtycadno's Book of Incantations (1814-1859) by Harries, JohnThe National Library of Wales

A Book of Incantations compiled by John Harries (c.1785–1839) of Cwrtycadno. In his day he was considered to be an astrologer, a medical practitioner and even a Wizard. NLW MS 11117B

The Vaux Passional (1502/1503) by UnknownThe National Library of Wales

New discoveries are continually being made by researchers at the National Library of Wales. On closer inspection this image from our Flemish Vaux Passional manuscript appears to show the manuscript being gifted to King Henry VII of England.

This makes it likely that child in green sobbing by the fire, is his son, the future Henry VIII, possibly mourning the death of his mother, who died in 1503. This makes it likely that this is the earliest ever image of the famous King Henry VIII.

Credits: Story

If you would like to discover more about our manuscripts, you can explore many more in our Digital Gallery

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