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Psalm 51 Initial, In 'The Bosworth Psalter'

Psalm 51 Initial, In 'The Bosworth Psalter'

Medium: Ink and pigments on vellum

Date: 980

Shelfmark: Additional MS 37517

Item number: f.33r

Length: 39.5

Width: 26.5

Scale: Centimetres

Genre: Illuminated manuscript

One of the most striking features of the Psalter, apart from its very early date, is its exceptionally large size. This gives the impression that it was created as a consciously prestigious object for use in important liturgical ceremonies, rather than for private study or devotion. By the 12th century, however, when extensive Old English glosses and Latin commentaries were added, it seems to have been being used for a different purpose. All the evidence suggests that the book was made in Canterbury, perhaps for St. Dunstan, but scholars have long argued over whether it comes from the cathedral or from St. Augustine's Abbey. The 150 psalms are often divided into groups of 50 in early Psalters, with enlarged initials at Psalms 1, 51, and 101. This initial 'Q' fills almost half the page, and coloured display capitals fill the rest.

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