Tiberius Psalter


The Tiberius Psalter is one of a number of important Psalters produced in Winchester during the mid-11th century. From the period of Bishop Æthelwold (r. 963–984) onwards, Winchester was a centre for monastic reform and learning, including the promotion of texts written in the vernacular. The main text of this Psalter is in Latin, but it also has an interlinear gloss, or translation, in Old English, probably written by the same scribe.

The manuscript contains 24 vibrant drawings in colour outline, depicting episodes from the lives of both Christ and King David, who was said to have been the author of the Psalms. These scenes include David rescuing a lamb from the jaws of a lion and his fight with Goliath; and Christ’s Temptation in the desert; Crucifixion, and the Harrowing of Hell. The idea of preceding the text of the Psalms with such images seems to have originated in England, and this is the earliest surviving example. The book’s vivid images enhance the devotional experience of reading and meditating on the Psalms, as well as providing a visual commentary on the biblical text.

Full title:
Psalter (the 'Tiberius Psalter')
2nd or 3rd quarter of the 11th century
Latin / Old English
Usage terms

Public Domain in most countries other than the UK.

Held by
British Library
Cotton MS Tiberius C VI

Full catalogue details

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