Some of the earliest manuscripts in English preserve texts that demonstrate a striking and evocative awareness of the materiality of the written word. The above riddle, one of the many formal and distinctively Anglo-Saxon treatments of everyday objects and processes, features a speaking object that is transformed into a glorious illuminated Bible. The opening of the riddle, which describes the slaughter of the calf, is not afforded any great detail by the poet; by contrast we participate fully in the labour-intensive process associated with the production of vellum, described in visceral detail with emphasis on the physical effort. The preparation of the skin is written to appeal fully to the senses, while in the riddle the slaughter of the animal is glossed over, and the vellum ultimately is treated gently, being subjected to “wondrous work” as it is prepared to receive the sacred words. The tone of the riddle shifts here: the energetic industry is replaced by a slow care, perhaps evocative of the time-consuming and detailed work of copying and decorating books and documents. The vellum responds to this, being transformed by the “dye of wisdom”: it is carefully folded by fingers, marked on with the ink that is applied by the “bird’s feather,” and carefully protected with boards: “a man bound me, / he stretched skin over me and adorned me / with gold.” The speaking object begins to articulate in other ways: the process involving the plunging of the skin into water is reminiscent of a baptismal rebirth, and the rather harsh process, whereby the vellum is, quite literally, pulled, scraped and stretched into shape, transforms the speaker from one who is abused to one who is honoured, materially, with “shining metal … clasp, and red dye.” There is now pride evident in the voice of one who will be the instrument by which to “bring fame far and wide / to the Protector of Men.”