The Auchinleck Manuscript

The Auchinleck Manuscript image

The Auchinleck Manuscript provides a unique insight into the English language and literature that Chaucer and his generation grew up with and were influenced by


Main URL


The Auchinleck Manuscript is one of the National Library of Scotland's greatest treasures. Produced in London in the 1330s, it provides a unique insight into the English language and literature that Chaucer and his generation grew up with and were influenced by. It acquired its name from its first known owner, Lord Auchinleck, who discovered the manuscript in 1740 and donated it to the precursor of the National Library in 1744.

The manuscript volume has held a prominent place in discussions of the history and development of Middle English. Its texts provide important information about English dialects at an early stage of development, and a rare snapshot of the kind of English literary texts which were in circulation in England in the period before Chaucer. A wide range of genres are represented in the manuscript which includes romance, hagiography, texts offering basic doctrinal instruction, a chronicle, humorous tales, and poems of satire and complaint. The manuscript also provides the earliest example of lay and commercial book production in England.


This resource is particularly useful to scholars of language, literature and the history of book production. It is an important source for the early development of Middle English. It contains a large collection of Middle English poetry from a period when relatively few ME texts survive, and a substantial proportion of the texts are unique to Auchinleck, or in unique versions. It offers evidence of professional scribes collaborating on what was primarily a commercial venture.

The electronic edition includes a full transcription of the manuscript's 44 texts, accompanied by high-quality colour digital images of the manuscript pages. The transcriptions are fully searchable, with advanced search options available, including stemming, fuzzy search and phonic searching. There is also extensive background information on the origins and importance of the manuscript, editorial policy, glossary, and a bibliography.

Introductory reading

Wiggins, A. 'The Auchinleck Manuscript Project as an exemplar of collaborative research', February 2004. link (pdf)

Wiggins, A. 'Are Auchinleck Manuscript Scribes 1 and 6 the same scribe?: whole-data analysis and the advantages of electronic texts'. Medium Aevum, 73 (2004).

Technical Methods

The text was manually transcribed to produce accurate and consistently transcribed and edited texts. Modern punctuation and capitalisation were added to improve readability; other editorial decisions included correction of obvious scribal errors. The texts are marked up in TEI XML.

Special Characters

The resource includes the searchable special characters thorn (þ, Þ), eth (ð, Đ) and yogh (ȝ, Ȝ).

About the project

The Auchinleck Manuscript project was the initiative of the late Professor David Burnley who established the project in 2000 as a collaboration between the National Library of Scotland and the University of Sheffield. The project Research Associate and co-editor was Dr Alison Wiggins.


Search The Auchinleck Manuscript

Source Types

  • Literary Manuscripts


  • Transcriptions


  • poetry
  • religious texts
  • scribal cultures


  • English


  • Free

Time Period



National Library of Scotland

Cite this page:

"The Auchinleck Manuscript" Manuscripts Online (, version 1.0, 21 July 2024),