Æthelstan Psalter


According to an inscription on one of the manuscript’s pages, this small copy of the Psalms was once owned by Æthelstan, King of Wessex and England (r. 924–939) and given by him to Winchester Cathedral. The book was made on the Continent, probably near Reims, in the early 9th century. By the 10th century, it had come to England, where it was embellished with a calendar added before the Psalms and full-page images marking important divisions in the text. Two of these depict Christ in Majesty, surrounded by angels, prophets and martyrs, and are included in the prefatory material.  A third represents his Ascension and return to Heaven. It seems likely that originally there were two more images, dividing the Psalms into three groups of 50 Psalms. One of these, with a scene of the Nativity, is now in Oxford, but the other does not survive. In addition to the text of the Psalms in Latin, the manuscript concludes with the Litany in Greek, transliterated into Latin letters – a sign of the ongoing significance of Greek for Christians in the Latin-speaking West.

Full title:
The Æthelstan Psalter
1st half of the 9th century, Reims
Usage terms

Public Domain in most countries other than the UK.

Held by
British Library
Cotton MS Galba A XVIII

Full catalogue details

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