The Aberdeen Bestiary

Folio 93v - the age of man, continued. De lapidibus igniferis; Of fire-bearing stones

Folio 94r - fire-bearing stones, continued. De lapide adamas; Of the adamas stone

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Commentary, Translation and Transcription

These sections are located below the image on each page, scroll down page and click on the tabs to view them. It is also possible to view the translation alongside the image by clicking the translation icon in the toolbar

It is not part of the project to provide a definitive edition of the text of the Bestiary, but to help readers by providing a transcription and translation of the text. Currently the following editorial conventions obtain:


  1. The original capitalisation is retained, but capitals have been added for personal and place names, excluding deus and diabolus.
  2. The original punctuation, including a point and inverted semi-colon (both serving as commas), and a point (serving as a full stop), is represented by comma, full stop and question-mark; a colon has been inserted before quotations.
  3. Suggested readings are in [ ].
  4. Variants from other Bestiary texts (eg Ashmole 1511 and Patrologia Latina 176) are added where they indicate a corruption, elucidate a meaning and replace excised text. They are represented as [A: PL:]


  1. Direct quotations from the Bible, where identified, are cited from the Authorised Version in ( ).
  2. Paraphrased quotations are identified where possible and indicated as: (see Job, 18:22).
  3. Suggested translations of corrupt words are in [ ].
  4. Capitalisation is sparing; additional punctuation has been used where necessary to give the sense. Paragraphs have been created to break up the text.



Isidore on the etymology of death. Physiologus on fire-bearing stones.


The tale is divided into two scenes. A naked man and woman stand apart above a fire, offering each other fire stones. In the lower image, they embrace.


A literal illustration of the text only requires a picture of stones, as shown in London, B.L.Harley MS 3244, f. 60, but the arrangement of the figures and tree is intended to suggest the Fall in the Garden of Eden.Fire-bearing stones are male and female. When they are apart the fire does not ignite, when close together, the mountain burns. The warning is for men to stay clear of women and avoid kindling lust. Beside the painting are sketches which are a combination of the Ashmole and Aberdeen illuminations. Ashmole Bestiary, f.103v. Their comparisons are analysed here. There are colour indications: aerie or harie (blue) at the base of the upper marginal sketch (Clark 1992,225, reads this as mine for minium, red); in the upper sketch bisors, (grey). f.93v is glued to f.93r.



The fire-bearing stones which ignite when near each other. Iron pyrites provide the geological basis for this account. The adamas stone.


The adamas stone on a mountain.


The twelfth-century hand ends half way down the page and the text resumes in a late thirteenth-/early fourteenth-century script. There is a hastily painted sketch of a hill with a circle or rock on top. The upper initial is type 2. The lower initial represents the start of the later series of initials, type 4.