Ramsey Psalter


This imposing copy of the Psalms is a fine example of the colourful illumination and the style of tinted line-drawing that were popular in 10th- and 11th-century England. The first Psalm begins with an elaborate and stylised ‘B’ decorated with drawings of acanthus leaves, gold interlace and an animal face. Such decorations was associated with the Winchester-school. The use of gold to write some text indicates the level of refinement of the manuscript and reflects the preciousness of the sacred text itself.

The Ramsey Psalter contains a stunning, tinted, outline drawing of the Crucifixion, that contrasts with the bright gold of the text on the opposite page. It has been suggested that this masterful work was made by a lay professional, who also illustrated the Boulogne Gospels (made at Saint-Omer) and the Harley Aratea

This Psalter may have been intended for the use of Oswald (d. 992), bishop of Worcester and archbishop of York, or for the monastery dedicated to Benedict of Nursia and the Virgin Mary that Oswald founded at Ramsey, in present-day Cambridgeshire. Ramsey was the only major monastery in England dedicated to Benedict at that time; Benedict’s name is written in gold in a list of saints that appears after the Psalter

Full title:
Psalter (the 'Ramsey Psalter' or 'Psalter of Oswald')
4th quarter of the 10th century, Southern England, either Winchester or Ramsey
Usage terms
Public Domain
Held by
British Library
Harley MS 2904

Full catalogue details

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