Anglo-Saxon England

An Anglo-Saxon runic coin and its adventures in Sweden

Margaret Clunies Ross a1
a1 University of Sydney

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In the years 1741–3, two scholars of Anglo-Saxon and Gothic, one an Englishman and the other a Swede, were engaged in correspondence. The Englishman was the Reverend Edward Lye (1694–1767), then rector of Yardley Hastings in Northamptonshire, and the Swede was Eric Benzelius the Younger (1675–1743), bishop of Linköping and, in the last year of his life, archbishop-elect of Uppsala. For many years Benzelius had been preparing an edition of the ‘Codex Argenteus’ of the Gothic gospels, which had been in Uppsala University Library since 1669, but he had been unable to complete the work on account of his many other commitments and also through the lack of suitable publishers for such a volume in Sweden. In his frustration, he sought the help of his many highly-placed friends in England, who included Sir Hans Sloane and John Carteret, first Earl Granville, a former Ambassador to Sweden. They directed him to Edward Lye as the only man in England competent to complete the edition, and the University Press at Oxford, as the only publisher able to handle the diffcult commission, as it still possessed Junius's type fonts for printing Gothic, Old English and runic characters.