Schaffhausen, Stadtbibliothek, MS Generalia 1

  • s. viiiin
  • Irish manuscripts
An important manuscript of the Vita sancti Columbae by Adomnán
Collection: Generalia
Provenance and related aspects
s. viiiin
early 8th century
Origin, provenance
Hands, scribes
Dorbéne mac AltaíniDorbéne mac Altaíni
Entry reserved for but not yet available from the subject index.
See more
Dorbbeneus, commonly thought to refer to Dorbéne mac Altaíni (d. 713), abbot of Iona.
Later history
By the 10th century, the manuscript was housed in the Reichenau monastery (Picard).
Codicological information
Foliation / Pagination
71 folios

The list below has been collated from the table of contents (if available on this page)Progress in this area is being made piecemeal. Full and partial tables of contents are available for a small number of manuscripts. and incoming annotations concerning individual texts (again, if available).Whenever catalogue entries about texts are annotated with information about particular manuscript witnesses, these manuscripts can be queried for the texts that are linked to them.


Primary sources This section typically includes references to diplomatic editions, facsimiles and photographic reproductions, notably digital image archives, of at least a major portion of the manuscript. For editions of individual texts, see their separate entries.

[dig. img.] “Schaffhausen, Stadtbibliothek, Gen. 1”, Flüeler, Christoph [project director], and Urs Baumann [photographer] (et al.), e-codices: virtual manuscript library of Switzerland, Online: University of Freiburg. URL: <>.
[facs.] Bracken, Damian, and Eric Graff, The Schaffhausen Adomnán, 2 vols, Cork: Cork University Press, 2008-2014.  
This is the first in a series of facsimiles of major Irish historical manuscripts. Each will be published with an interpretive commentary. This first book reproduces the earliest surviving copy of Adomnán's Vita Columbae, the Life of St Columba, dating from the late seventh century. Columba established one of the greatest Irish monastic and cultural foundations of the Middle Ages on the Island of Iona off the west coast of Scotland, in the 560s.

The monastery of Iona had close associations with the kings of the northern part of Ireland, Scotland, and northern England. It was the spiritual centre responsible for the conversion of Scotland and northern England to Christianity, and was the mother house of a great monastic federation that stretched from Lindisfarne, in the east of England, to Durrow, in the heart of Ireland. The Life was written by Adomnán, the ninth abbot of Iona, before 697, to mark the centenary of his patron's death. Like Columba, he was a member of the powerful Uí Néill (O'Neill) dynasty.

Adomnán's Life of St Columba has been described as perhaps the most sophisticated saint's life to be written in western Europe in the course of the seventh century. It bears witness to the scholarly and spiritual attainments of early Irish Christian culture. The manuscript reprinted in facsimile is one of the foremost achievements of that learned culture and has been preserved in the Stadtbibliothek, Schaffhausen, Switzerland since the eighteenth century.

Introduction-Damian Bracken; Report on the Codex: Schaffhausen, Stadtbibliothek, Generalia 1-Eric Graff; Schaffhausen, Stadtbibliothek, Generalia 1: The history of the manuscript-Jean-Michel Picard; The Schaffhausen manuscript and the composition of the Life of Columba-Mark Stansbury; Some orthographic features of the Schaffhausen manuscript- Anthony Harvey; A note on the Irish manuscripts Commission and the Schaffhausen manuscript of Adomnán's Vita Columbae- Deirdre McMahon; Index.
For editions of the text, see Vita sancti Columbae (Adomnán)

Secondary sources (select)

Picard, J. M., “The Schaffhausen Adomnán—a unique witness to Hiberno-Latin”, Peritia 1 (1982): 216–249.
Picard, Jean-Michel, “Schaffhausen Generalia 1 and the textual transmission of Adomnán’s Vita Columbae on the continent”, in: Ní Chatháin, Próinséas, and Michael Richter (eds.), Ireland and Europe in the early Middle Ages: texts and transmissions / Irland und Europa im früheren Mittelalter: Texte und Überlieferung, Dublin: Four Courts Press, 2002. 95–102.
Dennis Groenewegen
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