ONE of the most ancient and important manuscript volumes concerning the foundation and earliest history of Salisbury Cathedral has been returned to its archives.

The Register of St Osmund has traditionally been recognised as a manuscript belonging with the archives of the Cathedral Chapter.

However, it inadvertently became grouped within the Diocesan archives - the records of the Bishop of Salisbury as opposed to the records of the Dean and Cathedral Chapter - when they were kept at Wren Hall in the Close.

When these archives were transferred to the County Record Office (now called the Wiltshire and Swindon History Centre) in 1980 the register was also transferred.

Although it bears his name, the register was not compiled by Osmund but contains a record of the statutes, rules and customs made by or enjoined by him to be observed in the Cathedral.

Osmund was Bishop of Salisbury from 1078-1099 and is the acknowledged builder and founder of the Cathedral at Old Sarum.

The register is believed to have been compiled between 1220-40 at the time of Bishop Richard Poore and his immediate successors whilst the present cathedral was under construction. It is written on vellum (calf skin) in abbreviated Latin.

The Bishop of Salisbury, the Rt Revd Nicholas Holtam, said “I am delighted to see this ancient document, which somehow got confused with my predecessors’ records, returned to the cathedral. One of the glories of Salisbury Cathedral is the integrity and continuity of its ancient records and it reflects great credit on Wiltshire and Swindon History Centre that they recognized this particular document’s true home and encouraged its return.”