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MS 58: Psalter, 15th century

Identifier: MS 58


The manuscript is an English Psalter that was created in the 15th century. This manuscript could be from around Salisbury, or is at least Sarum Use.
The fly-leaves at the start of the manuscript (as well as some borders within the manuscript) are full of medical lore, prescriptions, etcetera, all in a 17th century hand.
The Kalendar starts on f.1r.
The Psalter starts on f.7r. It is missing Psalms 96:1—Psalms 97:9; and Psalms 42:5—Psalms 43: 24.
The Canticles and Quicunque vult start on f.116r. This section is incomplete.
Writing The script is a very clear small Gothic, the vellum fine, and the illumination good. The verses have blue and gold penwork initials and line-endings of blue and gold scroll throughout.
Illumination Each Psalm has a two-line initial of burnished gold on a background of blue and lake, and each has attached to it a marginal border consisting of two narrow bands of blue and gold with feathery branch work and gold ivy leaves springing from the centre and corners. The initials to the divisions of the Psalter occupy eight lines of text, are historiated, and accompanied by full borders of elaborate design. The borders are formed of broad bands of gold and colour with foliage curling round them, surrounded by feathery branch work, interspersed with starry flowers and ivy leaves. At the upper right hand and lower left hand corners in each case there is an eagle bearing a scroll, Da gratiarum munera. At the lower right hand corner a pink hind lies upon the grass and bears the same scroll. In all the borders but one a bishop kneels in prayer above the eagle in the left hand corner, bearing a scroll generally uninscribed, but in one case (f. 52) bearing the words Deum time. The initial to Ps. xcvii is missing, and the margins are very badly cropped, so that the borders in many cases have suffered.
Illumination The subjects of the miniatures are rather unusual. Each miniature has a background of crimson and gold scroll.

List of illuminations:

  1. Fol. 7: Beatus Vir. The Father crowned, centre, the Son, left, nimbed and showing the marks of wounds, David crowned, right, each with one hand on a book on their knees, the other blessing.
  2. Fol. 23: Dominus Illuminatio. David slays the lion in the sheepfold.
  3. Fol. 33v: Dixi custodiam. David slaying Goliath.
  4. Fol. 42: Dixit insipiens. David, bearing Goliath's head on his sword, meets two women at the gate of the city.
  5. Fol. 52: Salvum me fac. Saul crowned, with sceptre, seated by the side of a river, threatening David, who is carrying his harp in mid-stream.
  6. Fol. 65: Exultate Deo. Priest in green robe, blue hat, marrying a king and queen, two men blowing trumpets at either side.
  7. Fol. 90: Dixit Dominus. David crowned, with harp, five attendants.
  8. Fol. 116: Confitebor tibi. Floriated initial with floral border.


  • 15th century

Language of Materials


Conditions Governing Access

The collection is open to all. The manuscripts can be consulted in the Centre for Research Collections, Edinburgh University Main Library.


1 bound MS volume

Custodial History

The Kalendar is English, probably Sarum. The occurrence of Saint Erkenwald twice, 30 April and 14 November (in red), points to London. Other significant names are: 25 February, Saint Ethelbert, Confessor (of Kent); 20 May, Saint Ethelbert (of East Anglia); 28 February, Saint Oswald, Confessor (of Worcester and York). There is unfortunately no Litany. The illumination is distinctively English. The occurrence in most of the borders of the figure of a kneeling bishop suggests, along with the other evidence, that it possibly belonged to a bishop. The prominence of a hind and an eagle in all the borders may or may not be significant.
On the verso of the second flyleaf at the beginning is an inscription, Ex libris Jacobi Smart 1698. Both fly-leaves and many of the margins in the body of the book are full of medical lore, prescriptions, etcetera, all in a 17th century hand.

Previous reference

D. b. III. 10

Physical Facet

Material: Vellum

Binding: Modern, with metal clasps

Collation: a6, b8-d8, e7 (wants 7), f8-i8, k7 (wants 8), l8-q8, r2=126.


12.86 cm x 7.62 cm


Secundo folio: text Multi dicunt anime
Foliation and number of lines to a page: ff. 126, 26 lines to a page.

Repository Details

Part of the University of Edinburgh Library Heritage Collections Repository

Centre for Research Collections
University of Edinburgh Main Library
George Square
Edinburgh EH8 9LJ Scotland
+44(0)131 650 8379