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Index of Middle English Prose: Cotton Collection

We aim to compile a catalogue of one of the foremost collections of medieval manuscripts and to develop a search tool for Middle English prose.

Man sitting at a table flipping through the Cotton Collection.
Photo: Alpo Honkapohja

About the project

Access to medieval manuscripts, which form a major part of our collective heritage, is dependent on the search tools available to us.

The Index of Middle English Prose (IMEP) is the most important reference tool for Middle English non-verse texts. It seeks to locate and identify all surviving English prose texts composed between circa 1200 and 1500.

Our two-year EU-funded project contributes to the IMEP by completing a catalogue of the Cotton collection, brought together by Sir Robert Bruce Cotton (1571-1631), now located in the British Library. It is considered one of the most important collection of manuscripts ever assembled in Britain by a private individual.


The project has two main objectives:

  1.  Preparation of a printed catalogue of Middle English prose in the Cotton collection. It will be published as a volume in the IMEP series. It is based on notes left behind by the original editor, the late Brian Donaghey (University of Sheffield), and archival work carried out by Dr. Alpo Honkapohja.
  2. Developing a search tool that can handle spelling variation in Middle English. The tool will be developed at the Text Laboratory of the University of Oslo and incorporated into the IMEP website, which is under development at the Cambridge Centre for Digital Humanities.

Relevant links



01.09.21 — 31.08.23


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This project receives funding from the European Union's Horizon 2021 research and innovation programme under Marie Skłodowska-Curie actions Individual Fellowships (MSCA IF) (

Published Jan. 24, 2022 10:38 AM - Last modified June 28, 2022 11:55 AM