British Library Cotton Roll XIV.12 presents a rich vision of British history from the perspective of its thirteenth-century maker. Over nearly sixteen metres of surviving parchment, human history from Adam and Eve to the reign of William Rufus is presented through an intricate combination of texts and imagery. This article considers the circumstances in and for which this remarkable roll may have been produced. In particular this study examines two diagrams at the start of the roll as intellectual frameworks for the account of history that follows. These designs bring together ideas about time, justice, familial relationships, human behaviour and theology that resonate with popular texts and iconography of the era, but which, in the diagram on the dorse of the roll in particular, present them in an original way. The roll thus provides a user with an account of history as an ever-expanding chronological and intellectual experience.
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