Textus Roffensis is a codex or handwritten book. It now consists of two books bound together during the 14th century. The first contains charters and laws, including the earliest surviving code of English law. The second is a collection of legal agreements relating to the Bishop of Rochester and the monks of Rochester Cathedral.
One of those agreements is called the Bridgework List, which specifies who is obligated to repair Rochester Bridge. For the duration of this exhibition, the Textus Roffensis is opened to the Bridgework List pages.
What does Textus Roffensis mean? It means Book of Rochester and its name suggests that it was an extremely precious book to the monks. Textus means more than just book. It means the volume had high status. It would have had a coloured, bejewelled front cover and would have been placed near the high altar inside the Cathedral.
Who wrote Textus Roffensis? We don’t know who wrote Textus Roffensis but we know he was a monk at Rochester and experts think it was written by one person, with two or three other people making later additions. The script is called Rochester Prickly, which is unique to documents from Rochester Priory.
Where was it written? It was written on site, probably in the scriptorium on the south side of the cloisters (now the Garth Garden). It is amazing to think that 900 years ago a monk was creating Textus Roffensis approximately 50 metres from where it is now on display.
Language Textus Roffensis is written in two languages. The first is Old English (Anglo Saxon) and the other is Latin. Old English was the language of the English people before William the Conqueror invaded. Latin was always the language of the Church, law and educated people, so many Charters and documents were written in Latin.