The Wall Edition
A year after its purchase by Canterbury College, one of the College's professors, Arnold Wall, published a transcription of the Roll with a facing page translation. This edition has remained the standard guide to the text for nearly a century.
With limited resources available to him, Wall successfully identified the two scribal hands responsible for the bulk of the Roll's text (today labelled the Lancastrian and Yorkist Scribes). He also identified a range of sources from which the Roll's text was drawn (Gildas, Nennius, Geoffrey of Monmouth, William of Malmesbury, Henry of Huntingdon, Gerald of Wales, William of Newburgh, Roger of Hoveden, and Ranulf Higden). It is also thanks to Wall's introduction that we know that the Roll originally ended in approximately 2 feet (610mm) of blank parchment. This blank section appears to have been removed at some point after 1919. It was probably originally intended to protect the manuscript when in storage.
Wall labelled the Roll's Latin as "monkish" and "very shocking to the Classical scholar". Partly, perhaps, because of Wall's lack of familiarity with medieval Latin, his edition contains a number of erroneous readings. It also contains omissions. These range from whole passages of commentary to the Roman numerals that were added to many of the roundels. The challenge of presenting the text in print also led to the omission of repeated and blank roundels, as well as to a degree of re-arrangement. Despite these issues, Wall's edition performed a valuable service: it was critical in ensuring that scholars outside Aotearoa New Zealand were able to access the Roll during the 20th and early 21st century. However, Wall made a number of assumptions about the Roll's origins that are today questionable and notably obscured the events that led up to its acquisition by Canterbury College.
The "Noah" Group
Wall assumed that the Roll was a unique item produced during the reign of Edward IV in a monastic environment. The first of these assumption was disproved by Alison Allan's pioneering research in the 1970s/80s. Allan identified the Canterbury Roll as part of what has become known as the "Noah" group, a series of rolls so named because of their starting point. Today, the majority of the "Noah" group manuscripts are held in British collections.
Other Manuscripts of the "Noah" Group
|Aberystwyth, National Library of Wales, Rolls 39|
|Cambridge, King’s College, MS 43|
|Lincoln, Lincolnshire Archives, 2-TDE/K/1|
|London, British Library, Additional MS 18002|
|London, British Library, Sloane MS 2732A|
|London, College of Arms, MS Box 28, no. 5|
|London, College of Arms, MS Box 28, no. 12|
|London, Society of Antiquaries of London, MS 570|
|Notre Dame, University of Notre Dame, Hesburgh Library, cod. Lat. D. 3|
|Oxford, Bodleian Library, Marshall MS 135|
|Oxford, Queen’s College, MS 167|
Source: Maree Shirota. "Royal Depositions and the 'Canterbury Roll'." Parergon 32, no. 2 (2015): 39–61, Project MUSE.
Wall's second assumption is also wrong: the Roll was originally created in the early years of Henry VI's reign. His third assumption, while not impossible, is at least unlikely. Wall proposed the Roll was created at Saint Werberg [Werburgh]’s abbey, Chester. It is more probable that it was created, as were similar manuscripts, in a secular workshop. The original scribe's early adoption of Indo-Arabic notation suggests the place of production was, at the very least, an urban environment in which either merchants, academics, or both were present.
The "Maude" Roll
Wall labelled the manuscript the "Maude Roll", a name which remained in use until it was officially classified as Christchurch, University of Canterbury, MS 1 in 2010. Wall's name was derived from the Roll's association with the Maude family of Christchurch. The family owned the document before it passed into the hands of the College. As Robert Rouse explains, Wall went to extraordinary lengths to present the Roll as a document commissioned by the Maude family. In so doing, his aim was to bolster a sense of connection between Britain and New Zealand. The opening page of the introduction to the 1919 edition focuses on the antiquity of the Maudes. Although he does not go so far as to tell an outright lie, Wall misleads by omission. He implies, quite inaccurately, that the Roll was a donation to Canterbury College. In reality, as Wall himself made clear in his 1965 autobiography, the manuscript was purchased from Sybilla Maude by the College for £50. There is no evidence – either on the Roll itself or elsewhere – to indicate the nature of the family's connection with the document or when they came into possession of the manuscript. While the Maudes may have acquired it in the 15th century – as Wall put it, "The family tradition is that it has been in the possession of the family since it was made." – it is equally possible, as Rebecca Hayward has suggested, that it was purchased in the 19th century prior to the family's arrival in New Zealand.