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Last Updated: Friday, 25 March, 2005, 04:18 GMT
Manuscript returned to cathedral
Canterbury Cathedral
The manuscript would have been at the cathedral until the 16th century
An 11th Century manuscript has been returned to Canterbury Cathedral having been missing for hundreds of years.

The manuscript is a double-page spread from a gospel lectionary, thought to have been written by a highly-skilled scribe from the Holy Roman Empire.

It is thought the scripts, on the subject of Easter, went missing from the cathedral, like many others, during the mid-16th Century Reformation.

The pages were purchased for the cathedral at a price of 7,000.

Probably dismembered

Each reading on the scripts is introduced by a decorated initial in gold and silver, on a blue and green background.

Experts think the book they came from was probably dismembered during the Reformation.

Heather Forbes, the cathedral's archivist, said: "The cathedral archives already have pages from this lectionary containing the standard series of readings for Christmas Day, and the feasts of St Stephen, St John the Evangelist, the Holy Innocents and for the first Sunday after Christmas.

"Until recently, this was thought to be the only section of this book to survive.

Covered books

"We are grateful for Dr Richard Gameson of the University of Kent for spotting that the two manuscript fragments fitted together".

Experts think the pages survived because they were re-used as covers for books of a similar size, probably in the 16th Century.

The book covered by the Christmas pages stayed in Canterbury but the Easter pages ended up in Germany before being purchased recently for the cathedral.

The purchase was funded by the Friends of the Local Libraries, the V&A/MLA Purchase Grant Fund, Kent Archives Service and a group of local people.

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