A catalogue of Western manuscripts at the Bodleian Libraries and selected Oxford colleges

MS. Douce 296

Summary Catalogue no.: 21870

Psalter ('the Crowland Psalter'); England, East Anglia, 11th century, second or third quarter, with 11th- and 12th-century additions



(fols. ii recto–viii verso) Two letters to Francis Douce from H. Petrie (21 and 25 April 1829), and notes by Francis Douce, John Jackson (see ‘Provenance’), J. O. Westwood (see ‘Bibliography’) and E. S. Ffoulkes.

[items 2–3 occupy quire I]

2. (fols. 1r–6v)

Calendar for the use of Crowland Abbey, laid out one month per page, written in black, blue, red and green (ed. by Wormald, 1934). Includes Guthlac (11 April) in blue and his translation (30 August), his sister Pega (8 January), as well as Kyneswida, Kyneburga and Tibba (6 March), Felix of Dunwich (8 March), Alfheah, archbishop of Canterbury (19 April, martyred 1012), Botulph (17 June, in capitals), Athelthryth (23 June, in capitals), Withburga (8 July) and Edmund (20 November, in capitals). Old English names of the months appear to the left of KL monograms. Verses on the ‘Egyptian’ days and on the position of the sun in the Zodiac (Hennig, 1955, p. 90) are at the head of each month. Notes on the number of days and nights in each month are at the top of each page and on the number of hours in day and night at the bottom of each page. Added obits of the family of Edmund Ironside (d. 1016) in a contemporary hand in gold: ‘Obiit Eadmundus clitus’ (10 January); ‘Ob(iit) A . . .’ (18 March); ‘Ob(iit) Eaduuardus Clitus anglor(um)’ (19 April, Edward the Exile, 1016–1057); ‘Ob(iit) . . . cl . . .’ (24 September). For a discussion of the obits, including the obit on 18 March, partially lost when the leaf was trimmed, see Keynes (1985). Egidius (1 September) in brown, Faith (6 October) in green capitals and Catherine (25 November) in red capitals are added in a late 11th- or early 12th-century hand. Further additions in a 12th-century hand include the obit of Lanzo, prior of the Cluniac Priory of St Pancras, Lewes (1 April, d. 1107), Anselm of Canterbury (21 April, d. 1109) and Hugh of Cluny (29 April, d. 1109).

3. (fols. 7r–8r)

Calendarial tables. The Easter table (fol. 8r) has a cross above the column for 1060–1087, probably in the original hand (see Rushforth, 2008, ‘Crowland Psalter’, p. 157); fol. 8v is blank.

[items 4–6 occupy quires II–XV]

4. (fols. 9r–105v)

Psalms 1–150 (Gallican version) in the biblical order, written with each verse starting on a new line. Imperfect owing to the loss of three leaves (after fols. 14, 72 and 81). The following text is missing: 9: 16 (‘gentes de terra illius . . .’) – 12: 2 (‘. . . Quamdiu ponam consilia’); 101: 1–11 (‘. . . Dies mei sicut umbra’); 108: 19–end (‘sicut uesti . . .’). Between fols. 83 and 84 a contemporary correction slip, with verses 5 and 6 of psalm 113, preceded by ‘h’ (‘hic’ (?)). The omission of verses on fol. 83v is marked with ‘d’ (‘deficit’ (?)). Punctuated throughout with metrum usually marked with a medial point (placed mid-line) or punctus elevatus, and the ends of verses usually marked with a low point (placed on the line of writing) or punctus versus. The psalms are preceded by titles, which do not conform to any of Salmon’s series (1959), and their numbers in Roman numerals. The titles of five psalms are quoted below: 15 Tituli inscriptio ipsi david (fol. 15v) 30 Psalmus ipsi david (fol. 25r) 63 Psalmus david (fol. 46r) 115 Psalmus david alleluia (fol. 84v) 140 Psalmus david (fol. 100v). There are textual divisions at psalms 1, 51, 101(?), 109, 118 and 119 (see ‘Decoration’). Subdivisions within psalms are marked with larger or gold initials, a line of text in capitals and sometimes ‘Gloria’ in red at 9: 20 (fol. 14r), 17: 26 (fol. 18r), 36: 27 (fol. 30r), 67: 20 (fol. 49r), 68: 17 (fol. 50r), 77: 36 (fol. 57v), 88: 20 (fol. 65v), 103: 25 (fol. 75r), 104: 23 (fol. 76v), 105: 32 (fol. 78v), 106: 25 (fol. 80r), 138: 11 (Et dixi . . ., fol. 99v), 144: 10 (fol. 103r). Psalm 118 is subdivided into twenty-two 8-verse units. At the end: ‘Finiunt psalmi dauid numero centum quinquaginta’.

5. (fol. 105v–112r)

Weekly canticles with titles:

  • (1) Confitebor tibi domine (Isaiah 12) (‘Incipiunt cantici. Canticum isaiae prophetae’ on 105r);
  • (2) Ego dixi (Isaiah 38: 10–21) (‘Canticum ezechie regis iudae’);
  • (3) Exultauit cor meum (1 Samuel 2: 1–11) (‘Canticum annae matris Samuelis’);
  • (4) Cantemus domino (Exodus 15: 1–20) (‘Canticum Moysi’);
  • (5) Domine audiui (Habakkuk 3) (‘Canticum Abbacuc prophetae’);
  • (6) Audite caeli (Deuteronomy 32: 1–44) (‘Canticum Moysi ad filios Israel’).

6. (fol. 112r–116v)

Daily canticles, prayers and creeds with titles:

  • (1) Benedicite omnia opera (‘Hymnus trium puerorum’) (fol. 112r);
  • (2) Te deum laudamus (‘Hymnus quem sanctus Ambrosius et Augustinus invicem condiderunt’) (fol. 113r);
  • (3) Benedictus dominus deus (‘Canticum Zachariae prophetae’) (fol. 113v);
  • (4) Magnificat (‘Canticum sanctae Mariae’) (fol. 114r);
  • (5) Nunc dimittis (‘Canticum Symeonis prophetae’) (fol. 114v);
  • (6) Gloria in excelsis (‘Hymnus angelicus’) (fol. 114v);
  • (7) Pater noster (‘Oratio dominica’) (114v);
  • (8) Apostles’ Creed (Credo in deum . . .) (‘Symbolum apostolorum’) (fol. 115r);
  • (9) Athanasian Creed (Quicumque uult . . .) (‘Fides catholica Athanasii episcopi’) (fol. 115r).

[items 7–8 occupy quires XVI–XVII]

7. (fols. 117r–127v)

Litany (ed. Lapidge, 1991) including Mary, Peter and Guthlac in capitals. Peter and Guthlac are invoked twice. Florentinus (relics at Peterborough from 1015), Alban, Oswald, Edmund, Edward, Kenelm and Alfheah among the martyrs; Benedict (first), Cuthbert, Neot, Erkenwald, Birinus, Swithin, Judoc, Botulph, Athelwold, Dunstan, Aidan and Egwin among the confessors; Athelthryth, Withburga, Sexburga, Ermenilda, Pega, Kyneburga, Kyneswida, Tibba, Tova, Osgitha among the virgins. Egidius, Faith and Catherine added on fols. 117v and 118r in a late 11thor early 12th-century hand. The litany is followed by prayers (fols. 119v–127v), including prayers before and after the recitation of the psalms (fol. 120v), for various intentions, to the persons of the Trinity (124v), the Virgin Mary (125r), Michael, Gabriel, Raphael, angels, John the Baptist, Peter, Paul, Andrew, twelve apostles, Stephen, Benedict, Gregory and All Saints. On fols. 121v–124v a prayer attributed to St Augustine, entitled ‘Incipit inquisitio sancti augustini episcopi . . .’, beginning ‘Domine ihesu christe qui in hunc mundum propter nos peccatores de sinu patris aduenisti . . .’. Owing to the loss of a leaf after fol. 124 a prayer entitled ‘Oratio ad spiritum sanctum’ ends imperfectly with ‘existens ab eis in enar . . .’. The next prayer begins imperfectly with ‘. . . me ab omni malo’.

8. (fol. 127v–130v)

Office of the Trinity added in a late 11th- or early 12th-century hand (ed. Raw, 1999). Imperfect after most of Sext; the use is secular, rather than monastic (see Raw, 1999). Written for a woman: prayers at Lauds contain feminine forms (fol. 129v). ‘AMEN’ in capitals is added at the end over the erased gold rubric ‘Coll[ecta]’. Fols. 131–133 are blank.

Language(s): Latin

Physical Description

Secundo Folio: praedicans praeceptum (psalter, fol. 10r)
Form: codex
Support: parchment; paper (fols. i–viii and 131–3)
Extent: 141 leaves
Dimensions (leaf): c. 263 × 162 mm.
Foliation: modern, in pencil; viii + 133.


(fols. i–viii) fol. i conjoint with the upper pastedown; fols. ii–v and vii attached to fol. vi; fols. vi and viii conjoint | (fols. 1–8) I (8) | (fols. 9–14) II (8−2) missing 1st and 8th leaves after fols. 8 and 14 | (fols. 15–70) III–IX (8) | (fols. 71–77) X (8−1) missing 3rd leaf after fol. 72 | (fols. 78–84) XI (8−1+1) 5th leaf cut out after fol. 81; contemporary correction slip added after fol. 83, the 7th leaf (fol. 83) | (fols. 85–124) XII–XVI (8) | (fols. 125–130) XVII (6) one or more leaves missing at the end | (fols. 131–133) fols. 131 and 132 conjoint; fol. 133 conjoint with the lower pastedown.


Ruled in hard point for 30 lines per page, with double vertical bounding lines extending the full height of page, and single horizontal bounding lines extending the full width of page; written above the top line; written space: c. 193 × 100 mm.

Quire II is ruled for 28 lines.


Round English Caroline minuscule; brown ink; the titles and first lines of psalms are in capitals; quire II is by a different scribe.


Pächt and Alexander iii. 43, pl. V.

Full-page miniature on fol. 40r, prefacing psalm 51, depicting the Triumphant Christ with cruciform halo, wearing a diadem and holding a book and a cross-staff. He treads on a lion and dragon, and pierces the lion’s mouth with the staff.

The miniature is enclosed in a ‘Winchester’-style border: a double-bar gold frame, decorated with flowers and acanthus leaves.

Gold Beatus-initial (fol. 9r), almost full-page, decorated with interlace, animal mask, and acanthus leaves on a pink ground. The written space is enclosed in a square frame in gold (flaking) and green. The beginning of psalm 1 is written in gold (flaking).

Psalm 51 (fol. 40v) starts with a panelled historiated initial Q(uid) topped by an animal mask and containing in the bowl of the initial a figure of a young man in a short tunic and hat (sometimes identified as St Michael, though wingless). He is holding a shield and raising a sword against a winged dragon forming the tail of the Q. The outline of the initial is in gold and the opening lines of text are in gold, green, red and blue capitals.

Psalms 109 and 118 (fols. 82r and 86r) start with large gold initials, the latter with foliate scrolls, and the opening lines of the text are in gold capitals. Psalm 119 (fol. 92v) and the first canticle (fol. 106r) start with large coloured initials and the opening lines of text are in coloured capitals.

Decoration is doubtless lost owing to the loss of a leaf containing the beginning of psalm 101 (after fol. 72). The eleven missing verses would have occupied approximately one page (i.e. the verso of the missing leaf), so the recto probably had a fullpage miniature or initial. Another full-page miniature on a verso probably faced the beginning of psalm 109, as the thirteen missing verses of psalm 108 would have fitted on the recto of the missing leaf.

Alternating red and blue (except October, green) KL monograms in the calendar.

3- and 4-line plain gold initials at the beginnings of psalms until fol. 86r, and simple red, green and blue initials afterwards. Gold initials with arabesque designs on fols. 127v–130v (the Office of the Trinity).

1-line plain red, blue or green initials at the beginnings of verses.

psalm titles in red ink; the opening lines of psalms at textual divisions and of the first canticle are in gold, red, blue and green


Red morocco over pasteboard with gilt roll decoration round the outer edge of both covers, 18th century. Made by Richard ‘Davy’ Wier (or Weir) in Toulouse in the 1770s (?) for Count Justin MacCarthy Reagh (see Howe, 1950). Gilt floral, arabesque and Greek key designs on spine. Panels separated by decorative strips in imitation of five double cord positions. Gilt lettering on spine: ‘PSALMI | ET | LITANIÆ || MSS. IN | MEMBRANIS’. 20th-century paper label on spine inscribed ‘Arch. F. d. 12’; remains of another paper label just above it. Marbled endpapers. Edges of textblock decorated with scallop patterns of thick red lines. Sewn on four cords. Green silk bookmark.


Origin: 11th century, second or third quarter, with 11th- and 12th-century additions ; English, probably East Anglia, perhaps Ely, Peterborough, or Crowland (?)

Provenance and Acquisition

Crowland, Lincolnshire, Benedictine abbey of St Mary the Virgin, St Bartholomew, and St Guthlac: made for the abbey, evidence of the calendar and litany. The names of Alfheah, archbishop of Canterbury (19 April, martyred 1012) and Florentinus (relics in Peterborough from 1015) occur in the calendar and litany, and suggest a terminus post quem for the manuscript. Rushforth (2008, ‘Crowland Psalter’) argues that obits added in gold in the calendar are contemporary with the production of the psalter and, together with the cross in the Easter table, suggest that the manuscript was written in the 1060s. (Cf. MLGB3: liturgical evidence, often to be found in the kalendar).

An addition of the Office of the Trinity and Sts Egidius, Faith and Katherine to the calendar and litany in the late 11th or early 12th century. Possibly owned at that time by Gundrada de Warenne, who together with her husband, William de Warenne, founded the Cluniac Priory in Lewes in the late 1070s or early 1080s (Rushforth, 2008, ‘Crowland Psalter’).

Lewes, Sussex, Cluniac priory of St Pancras early in the 12th century: added obits in the calendar.

Count Justin MacCarthy Reagh: acquired by the 1770s (?); sale Leigh and Sotheby, 18 May 1789, probably lot 1554.

John Jackson (d. 1794), F.S.A., see ODNB (brief biography in the entry for Jackson, John, d. 1807, traveller): bought for £4. 8s. 0d; sale Leigh and Sotheby, 28 April 1794, lot 368.

Francis Douce, 1757–1834, see ODNB: bought at Jackson sale for £5. 10s. 0d. Bookplate on the upper pastedown.

Bequeathed to the Bodleian in 1834. Earlier shelfmark: ‘G. C. 5’ (upper pastedown).

Record Sources

Elizabeth Solopova, Latin Liturgical Psalters in the Bodleian Library: A Select Catalogue (Oxford, 2013), pp. 8–15. Previously described in the Summary Catalogue.


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Digital Images

Digital Bodleian (5 images from 35mm slides)


    Printed descriptions:

    A. Watson, Catalogue of Dated and Datable Manuscripts in Oxford Libraries (1984), no. 471 (as 'between 1015 and 1036')
    S. J. P. van Dijk, Latin Liturgical Manuscripts in the Bodleian Library, Oxford, vol. 2: Office Books (typescript, 1957), p. 7

    Online resources:

    Selected other bibliography (to 2008):

    Douce catalogue, p. 49.
    Westwood, J. O., Fac-similes of the miniatures and ornaments of Anglo-Saxon and Irish manuscripts (London: B. Quaritch, 1868), p. 122.
    Frere, no. 448.
    Gasquet, F. A. and Bishop, E., The Bosworth Psalter (London: Bell, 1908), p. 34 n. 1, and passim.
    Homburger, O., Die Anfänge der Malschule von Winchester im x. Jahrhundert (Leipzig: Dieterich, 1912), pp. 55, 60 n. 1, 62, 67, pl. XI.
    James, M. R., A Peterborough psalter and bestiary of the fourteenth century (Oxford: Roxburghe Club, 1921), p. 33.
    Millar, E. G., English illuminated manuscripts from the Xth to the XIIIth century (Paris; Brussels: G. van Oest, 1926), no. 35.
    Atkins, I., ‘An investigation of two Anglo-Saxon kalendars’, Archaeologia 78 (1928), pp. 219–54, at pp. 222 n. 5, 225, 239.
    Saunders, O. E., English illumination (Florence: Pantheon-Casa Editrice; Paris: Pegasus Press, 1928), pp. 26–7, pl. 27.
    Wormald, F., English kalendars before A. D. 1100, Henry Bradshaw Society 72 (London: Henry Bradshaw Society, 1934).
    Howe, E., A list of London bookbinders, 1648–1815 (London: Bibliographical Society, 1950), pp. 98–9.
    Ker, N. R., Catalogue of manuscripts containing Anglo-Saxon (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1957), no. 224.
    Sisam, C. and Sisam, K. (eds.), The Salisbury Psalter edited from Salisbury Cathedral ms. 150, EETS O.S. 242 (London: OUP, 1959), pp. 6 n. 2, 48.
    Barré, H., Prières anciennes de l’occident à la Mère du Sauveur: des origines à saint Anselme (Paris: Lethielleux, 1963), pp. 129–30.
    Rickert, M., Painting in Britain: the Middle Ages, 2nd edn. (Baltimore: Penguin Books, 1965), pp. 52, 226 n. 16, pl. 42.
    Pächt and Alexander (1966–73), vol. 3, p. 43, pl. V (fol. 9r).
    Munby, A. N. L., Connoisseurs and medieval miniatures, 1750–1850 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1972), p. 52.
    Temple, E., Anglo-Saxon manuscripts, 900–1066 (London: H. Miller, 1976), no. 79.
    The Douce legacy: an exhibition to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the bequest of Francis Douce (1757– 1834) (Oxford: Bodleian Library, 1984), no. 208.
    Wormald, F., ‘Anglo-Saxon painting’ in J. J. G. Alexander, T. J. Brown and Joan Gibbs (eds.), Francis Wormald: collected writings, 2 vols. (London: H. Miller; New York: OUP, 1984), vol. 1, Studies in medieval art from the sixth to the twelfth centuries, pp. 111–22, at p. 120.
    ——, ‘An English eleventh-century psalter with pictures, British Library, Cotton MS. Tiberius C. VI’, ibid., pp. 123–38, at p. 126.
    —— , ‘Late Anglo-Saxon art: some questions and suggestions’, ibid., pp. 105–10, at p. 108.
    Gneuss, H.,‘Liturgical books in Anglo-Saxon England and their Old English terminology’ in M. Lapidge and H. Gneuss (eds.), Learning and literature in Anglo-Saxon England: studies presented to Peter Clemoes on the occasion of his sixty-fifth birthday (Cambridge: CUP, 1985), pp. 116, 127, 138, 140.
    Keynes, S., ‘The Crowland Psalter and the sons of King Edmund Ironside’, BLR 11 (1982–5), no. 6 (May 1985), pp. 359–70.
    Biggs, F. M., Hill, T. D., and Szarmach, P. E. (eds.), Sources of Anglo-Saxon literary culture: a trial version (Binghamton: Center for Medieval and Early Renaissance Studies, State University of New York at Binghamton, 1990), p. 137.
    Lapidge, M. (ed.), Anglo-Saxon litanies of the saints, Henry Bradshaw Society 106 (London: Henry Bradshaw Society, 1991), no. 32.
    Clayton, M. and Magennis, H. (eds.), The Old English lives of St Margaret (Cambridge: CUP, 1994), pp. 74–7.
    Pulsiano, P., ‘Psalters’ in R. W. Pfaff (ed.), The liturgical books of Anglo-Saxon England (Kalamazoo: Medieval Institute Publications, Western Michigan University, 1995), pp. 61–85.
    Remley, P. G., Old English biblical verse: studies in Genesis, Exodus and Daniel (Cambridge: CUP, 1996), p. 390.
    Gameson, R., ‘The Gospels of Margaret of Scotland and the literacy of an eleventh-century queen’ in L. Smith and J. H. M. Taylor (eds.), Women and the book: assessing the visual evidence (London: British Library; Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1997), pp. 149–71, at p. 168.
    Gneuss, H.,‘Origin and provenance of Anglo-Saxon manuscripts: the case of Cotton Tiberius A.iii’ in P. R. Robinson and R. Zim (eds.), Of the making of books: medieval manuscripts, their scribes and readers. Essays presented to M. B. Parkes (Aldershot: Scolar Press, 1997), pp. 13–48, at p. 33.
    Raw, B. C., Trinity and incarnation in Anglo-Saxon art and thought (Cambridge: CUP, 1997), pp. 1 n. 3, 12, 114.
    Pulsiano, P., ‘The prefatory matter of London, British Library, Cotton Vitellius E. XVIII’ in P. Pulsiano and E. M. Treharne (eds.), Anglo-Saxon manuscripts and their heritage (Aldershot: Ashgate, 1998), pp. 85–118, at pp. 102, 105.
    Morini, C., ‘Horologium e dægmæl nei manoscritti anglosassoni del computo’, Aevum 73 (1999), pp. 273–93, at pp. 279, 285.
    Newton, F., The scriptorium and library at Monte Cassino, 1058–1105, Cambridge Studies in Palaeography and Codicology 7 (Cambridge: CUP, 1999), p. 236.
    Raw, B. C., ‘The Office of the Trinity in the Crowland Psalter (Oxford, Bodleian Library, Douce 296)’, ASE 28 (1999), pp. 185–200.
    Jankulak, K., The medieval cult of St Petroc, Studies in Celtic History 19 (Woodbridge: Boydell, 2000), pp. 146, 149 n., 210.
    Gneuss, H., Handlist of Anglo-Saxon manuscripts: a list of manuscripts and manuscript fragments written or owned in England up to 1100, Medieval and Renaissance texts and studies 241 (Tempe: Arizona Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies, 2001), no. 617.
    Karkov, C. E., Text and picture in Anglo-Saxon England: narrative strategies in the Junius 11 manuscript (Cambridge: CUP, 2001), p. 61.
    O’Neill, P. P. (ed.), King Alfred’s Old English prose translation of the first fifty psalms (Cambridge, MA: Medieval Academy of America, 2001), pp. 14 n. 58, 15 n. 64.
    Wolter-von dem Knesebeck, H., Der Elisabethpsalter in Cividale del Friuli: Buchmalerei für den Thüringer Landgrafenhof zu Beginn des 13. Jahrhunderts (Berlin: Deutscher Verlag für Kunstwissenschaft, 2001), pp. 204, 214.
    Lapidge, M., The cult of St Swithun, Winchester Studies 4 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 2003), pp. 27, 51, 53.
    Gryson (2004), no. 443.
    Hilmo, M., Medieval images, icons, and illustrated English literary texts: from the Ruthwell Cross to the Ellesmere Chaucer (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2004), p. 50 n. 93.
    Karkov, C. E., ‘The sign of the cross: poetic performance and liturgical practice in the Junius 11 manuscript’ in Helen Gittos and M. Bradford Bedingfield (eds.), The liturgy of the late Anglo- Saxon church (London: Boydell, 2005), pp. 245–69, at p. 249.
    Rushforth, R., ‘The Crowland Psalter and Gundrada de Warenne’, BLR 21 (2008), pp. 156–68.
    ——, Saints in English kalendars (2008), pp. 39–40 no. 17.

Last Substantive Revision

2024-01: Matthew Holford: encoded description from Solopova catalogue.