This three-volume work describes the origin, flowering and decline of one particular monastic school during the 50 years which followed the reception into England of the Benedictine reformation which had swept Northern Europe during the middle years of the 10th century. Ramsey was endowed and established in 964, with a magnificent library, school and scriptorium. It was backed by powerful patrons, and Byrhtferth, its schoolmaster, was entrusted to cultivate in England the new learning that had become the driving force of the Continental reform. Starting with Bede's historical and scientific works, he resuscitated the national vernacular chronicles and assembled for the first time materials for both regional and national chronicles in Latin. He also produced a number of saints' lives. Abbo of Fleury, the most renowned Continental scholar of his day, visited Ramsey from 985 to 987, bringing with him many computistical and scientific tracts and teaching in its school. Ramsey was also at the forefront of an artistic revival, introducing important new features into book illumination.
This radical study of the school of Ramsey brings all this together for the first time, shedding fresh light on the intellectual climate in late Anglo-Saxon England, with special attention to its indebtedness to Continental scholarship. The first volume is concerned mainly with the new curriculum in monastic schools and Byrhtferth's important historical works. The second volume (divided into two books) include a wide-ranging survey of the development of mathematical, medical and scientific studies in England before the Norman Conquest. Many basic texts are edited and translated in a series of appendices, and illustrated by 100 line drawings.