The Bangor Pontifical Project

The Bangor Pontifical Project is an initiative of Bangor University’s 125th Anniversary Celebrations. A collaboration between the University and Bangor Cathedral, the project has enabled the Bangor Pontifical – a hidden and precious treasure of medieval Bangor – to be made universally accessible via a permanent, high resolution website. The Pontifical is owned by the Dean and Chapter of Bangor Cathedral and it is still brought to the cathedral for special occasions, although it is now kept for safety in Bangor University Archive.

The Bangor Pontifical is an exceptional manuscript. It is the only complete liturgical manuscript known to survive from the medieval diocese of Bangor, and one of just two extant books from medieval Wales as a whole to contain substantial plainchant notation. Inscribed as belonging originally to Anian ‘Sais’, bishop of Bangor between 1309 and 1328, the Pontifical is now confidently dated to the first quarter of the fourteenth century. It contains texts and detailed instructions for the liturgical observances to be conducted by a bishop: the dedication of churches, altars and cemeteries; the enthronement and consecration of an archbishop; and special blessings given during the canon of the Mass and on other specific occasions. The manuscript also contains a very substantial corpus of plainchant, all copied onto a four-line stave. Several of these chants are known from no other source.

The Bangor Pontifical Project provides free, global access to this unique manuscript. This website enables users to examine the book in its entirety, to zoom in on its intricate decoration and musical notation, and to hear some of the chants performed.

Viewing the Pontifical

You can view the Pontifical on this site or via the Digital Image Archive of Medieval Music (DIAM) website.

Viewing on this website

Visit the 'View the Pontifical' page.

Viewing on the DIAM website

  • Visit http://www.diamm.ac.uk/
  • Click the ‘Register’ button in the top right corner.
  • Once registered, click ‘Advanced search’, scroll down to ‘City’ in box 1, type in ‘Bangor’ in box 2; then click ‘Search’.
  • Click on the icon to the right of the words ‘Bangor Pontifical’, then the Image List tab, and all the images will appear.

Four images from the Pontifical may also be viewed here at the Gathering the Jewels website for Welsh heritage and culture, which features over 30,000 images of objects, books, letters, aerial photographs and other items from museums, archives and libraries throughout Wales.