The Arnamagnæan manuscript collection – University of Copenhagen

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Department of Nordic Research > Collections > The Arnamagnæan manusc...

The Arnamagnæan manuscript collection

The collection in its entirety consists of approximately 3000 manuscript items, of which 1400 are in Copenhagen.

The collection is named after its founder, the Icelandic philologist and historian Árni Magnússon (Latinised as Arnas Magnæus, in Danish Arne Magnusson). Shortly before his death in 1730 he bequeathed his collection of manuscripts and printed books as well as his fortune to the University of Copenhagen, where he was professor of Danish antiquities.

The collection is now divided between Iceland and Denmark. In July 2009 it was added to UNESCO’s Memory of the World Register.

Supplementary collections

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After Árni Magnússon’s death the collection has been expanded with smaller supplementary collections.

Chief among these are the collections belonging to the Danish linguist Rasmus Rask and the Icelandic chief justice Magnús Stephensen respectively. Among the supplementary collections is also a large collection of accessoria, i.e. manuscripts which have been acquired through purchases and gifts.

Diplomas and charters

In addition to the manuscript collection there is also a collection of diplomas both originals and apographs (first-hand copies).


The collection contains 776 diplomas and 2895 apographs from Norway, the Faroe Islands, Shetland and Orkney, and 1571 diplomas and 1372 apographs from Denmark.

The Danish collection was expanded with 457 diplomas from the Ravnholt estate in Funen, the earliest of which date back to the early 15th century.

Photographic collection

All the manuscripts that were transferred to Iceland were conserved and photographed, including those manuscripts that came from the Royal Library in Copenhagen. In addition to these pictures the photographic collections contains photographs of Icelandic manuscripts in other collections, such as the Royal Library in Stockholm, Uppsala University Library, the British Library and the National Library of Iceland. The photographic collection forms part of the institute library.