Robert Bruce Cotton organized his library in a room 26 feet (7.9 m) long by six feet wide filled with bookpresses, each with the bust of a figure from classical antiquity on top. Counterclockwise, these are were Julius Caesar, Augustus, Cleopatra, Faustina, Tiberius, Caligula, Claudius, Nero, Galba, Otho, Vitellius, Vespasian, Titus, and Domitian. (Domitian had only one shelf, perhaps because it was over the door). In each press, each shelf was assigned a letter; manuscripts were identified by the bust over the press, the shelf letter, and the position of the manuscript (in Roman numerals) counting from the left side of the shelf. Thus, the Lindisfarne Gospels, Nero B.iv, was the fourth manuscript from the left on the second shelf (shelf B) of the press under the bust of Nero. A few of the cabinets had only one shelf so that the shelf letter was left out of the press-mark. The British Museum retained Cotton's press-marks when the Cotton collection became one of the foundational collections of its library, so manuscripts are still designated by library, bookpress, shelf, and number (even though they are no longer stored in that fashion). For example, the manuscript of Beowulf is designated Cotton MS Vitellius A.xv, and the manuscript of Pearl is Cotton MS Nero A.x.
Two large portfolios containing a collection of 16th century maps, charts and plans of towns, buildings, fortifications and related items. Some of the items are plans for projects that were never completed.
A portfolio containing a large collection of mostly Anglo-Saxon charters, also contains a few later medieval charters, Papal Bulls, and some other items. Includes: Item 3 The Ismere Diploma; Item 106 Magna Carta: Exemplification of 1215
A portfolio containing a miscellaneous collection of drawings and prints, many of them military in nature.
Troy Book by John Lydgate, edition of 1555 with some variations. According to heraldic evidence the manuscript was created between 1411 and 1458, probably during Lydgate's lifetime.
(1) fos. 3-117, 8th and 9th-century material from France, which had arrived in England by the 9th or 10th century
(2) fos. 120-53, once part of BL Egerton 3314, belonging to the 11th century. It consists of two parts:
fos. 120-41, part A, computistical texts; annals of Christ Church, Canterbury; Old English and Latin prognostications and charms
fos. 142-53, excerpts from Bede, De temporibus anni, with additional notes.
Correspondence on relations between Elizabeth I and Mary, Queen of Scots
Correspondence of Charles Brandon, Duke of Suffolk, with the court of Henry VIII
Miscellany, separated by Henry Savile the Elder from Dublin, Trinity College 114. It includes the following items:
fos. 25r-97r. Symeon of Durham, Liber de exordio atque procursu Dunelmensis ecclesiae, including Bede's Death Song
fos. 99r-99v, Pseudo-Bede, De Quindecim Signis
fos. 99v-102r, Pseudo-Augustine, De Antichristo quomodo et ubi nasci debeat
Abbreviatio de Gestis Normannorum ad Gulielmum I Regem Angliae
Additional Glosses to the Glossary in Ælfric's Grammar
(1) The first and earliest part is the Cotton-Corpus Legendary, a Worcester manuscript (1050 x 1075) which includes Byrhtferth's Life of Oswald, his Life of Ecgwine and Lantfred of Winchester's Translatio et Miracula S. Swithuni.
(2) In the second part, various texts with dates ranging between the 10th and 13th century are bound together. These include the Oswald Cartulary and IV Edgar (a law-code belonging to King Edgar, r. 959-975). Folios 182 and 183 of Cotton Nero E.i, pt.2 (Worcester cartulary), are now bound separately as London, BL, MS. Add. 46204.
A composite volume of three 12th-century manuscripts. These include: a collection of Welsh saints' Lives, an excerpt from Bede's "Historia Ecclesiastica Gentis Anglorum", and some of Alcuin of York's Epistulae.
Correspondence of the Spanish royal court with the court of Henry VIII
Latin Hymnal with Old English gloss
Miscellany of the mid-12th century. It has most of Ælfric's Catholic Homilies (first and second series) and cites from Ælfric's letters to Sigeferth and Wulfstan. Other works include a Life of Saint Neot; homily on the Phoenix; Old English Dicts of Cato; prognostications; the Vision of St Furseus; translations of Ralph d'Escures' homily on Mary; and excerpts from Honorius Augustodunensis, Elucidarium.
(1) Nigel Witeker, Miracula sancte Dei genitricis uirginis Marie and other poems; (2) Ely Chronicle (12th century); (3) Easter-table chronicle; (4) Hildebert of Le Mans, certain letters and sermons.