From E. Gordon Whatley's introductory note on these entries:
From the evidence available, it seems that the Anglo-Saxons before the Norman Conquest did not produce as much Latin hagiographic literature as their Merovingian, Carolingian, and Ottonian contemporaries on the Continent. Hagiographic texts are relatively rare among extant Latin manuscripts of Anglo-Saxon provenance. It is well known that in later Anglo-Saxon England, after the monastic decline and Viking inroads of the ninth century, latinitas was generally poor and saw improvement only in a few centers of the ecclesiastical reform. Apparently as a result of this, half of the native English saints’ vitae from the tenth and eleventh centuries were written by foreigners (see Dunstanus, Eadmundus, Swithunus, and Wilfridus). Nonetheless, it is clear that hagiography was an important genre in Anglo-Saxon England. Major writers in the early period, such as BEDE, ALDHELM, and ALCUIN, and in the later period, such as ÆLFRIC and BYRHTFERTH, devoted significant efforts to one or another form of hagiographic writing. Bede not only wrote several individual saints’ lives, but his Martyrologium is well known as the first “narrative” martyrology in the West and as the lineal ancestor of the most important and influential Continental martyrologies of the Carolingian age and beyond. The ninth-century OLD ENGLISH MARTYROLOGY, on the other hand, while apparently without any impact outside England, is becoming recognized (thanks to the work of the late J. E. Cross and Günter Kotzor) as a unique specimen of the martyrologist’s art. Finally, although the rhthymic Old English saints’ lives of Ælfric alone would constitute an important achievement in the history of Western hagiography, they survive alongside several thousand lines of justly celebrated Old English poetic saints’ lives and numerous anonymous hagiographies in vernacular prose.

Although valuable studies have been and are being done on individual hagiographic works and authors of pre-Conquest England, and on the saints’ cults themselves, there is as yet no comprehensive treatment of the Anglo-Saxons’ hagiographic writing or of their reception and adaptation of the early Christian and early medieval hagiographic traditions, both Western and Eastern, by which their own narrative compositions were undoubtedly influenced. (The first few chapters of the pioneer surveys by Gerould 1916 and Wolpers 1964, and the well-known articles by Kurtz 1926 and Colgrave 1958, focus on the early period, as do more recent discussions in Berschin 1986–91, vol 2, and Goffart 1988.) The materials for pursuing a more broad-based approach to Anglo-Saxon hagiography and hagiology have not been readily available. Hardy’s Descriptive Catalogue, in the Rolls Series (RS 26), although still a valuable guide to the manuscripts of insular history, biography, and hagiography, is outdated and incomplete in various ways and deals primarily with texts on insular saints. Moreover, the Bollandists’ roster of indispensable catalogues of hagiographic manuscripts unfortunately does not include any volumes devoted to the major libraries of England, except for one on Greek texts. And while Levison’s Conspectus of important hagiographic manuscripts (MGH SRM 7.529–706) analyzes the contents of some English libraries, he is highly selective as to which saints’ lives he itemizes, focusing mainly on Gallic, Merovingian, and Carolingian historical figures whose lives are relevant to the Monumenta Germaniae Historica series, especially to Scriptores rerum merovingicarum. This lack of hagiographic research tools in the Anglo-Saxon field has been matched by the lack of scholarly attention to the English hagiographic manuscripts themselves, which have only recently begun to be studied with the close attention they deserve.

Building on the preliminary list of hagiographic references supplied by Ogilvy (BKE pp 44–52), the present Acta Sanctorum, along with certain author entries in SASLC, attempts to collect in one place the basic materials for studying hagiography in Anglo-Saxon England, both what was written and what was available to be read. The entries that follow contain a digest of published information about the texts and textual traditions of all the anonymous vitae, passiones, and miracula that the Anglo-Saxons seem to have known. It is hoped that the entries will be of service not only to Anglo-Saxonists, Celticists, and students of medieval English culture in general, for exploring the hagiographic writing and reading of the Anglo-Saxons, but also to scholars outside the insular sphere, who need information about Anglo-Saxon copies and versions of particular hagiographic texts and about their reception in early England. (Continental scholars neglect English hagiographic sources at their peril, and vice versa.) It is also hoped that Acta Sanctorum will help in general to further stimulate and support the scholarly work undertaken in recent years on hagiography and the cults of the saints in England up to the year 1100.