Bamburgh Select 25Psalter
Held by: Durham University Library: Bamburgh Manuscripts

Psalter written in Flanders for the English market, mid 15th century; in the Bamburgh Castle Library since mid 18th century.

Physical description of manuscript


Extent: ii+177+ii f
Size: 176 mm x 125 mm

Secundo folio: Servite

1-108, 118 + 1 leaf (f.82) inserted after 1, 12-178, 186, 19-208, 218 + 2 leaves (f.168-169) after 8, 226, 232. MMBL says 19-218, 2210 wants 9-10 (blank ?) after f.175, 232, but stubs of f.168-9 are visible before f.160, i.e. between quires 20 and 21.

Catchwords: Possible catchword on quire 2 (f.16v).
Signatures: Traces of signatures on f.9 “b”, 25 “d”, 84 ”l” (?), 106-107 “o”, 122-125 “q”, 131 “r” (??) and 140 “s”, suggesting that quires 1-21 were signed a-x; the two supplementary leaves at the end of quire 21, f.168-169, are lettered “y” and “z”.

No evidence of pricking for horizontal lines. Written space 101-104 x 65-67 mm; ruling very fine sharp reddish brown ink, 21 long lines; f. 82r-v, 16 lines ruled in red ink, 100 x 75 mm.


Written in textura, proficiently, by at least two hands, changing at the end of quire 2, f.16v/17.


Line-fillers red and blue with gold blobs. Paraphs, alternately blue with red flourishing and gold with black flourishing, separating run-over words/letters in (1)-(2) from the main part of the line.

Initials: (i) to verses of (1)-(3), entries of (4) and minor divisions of (5), 1-line, alternately blue with red flourishing and gold with black flourishing; (ii) to each psalm and canticle of (1)-(3), to (4) and each of its collects, and to each lection of (5), 2-line, gold, on grounds of deep pink and lightish blue patterned with white; (iii) to (5), 3-line, in blue patterned with white and with orange foliate terminals, on a ground quartered deep pink and gold patterned with white, with type (i) border (see below); (iv) to Ps. ci (f.100), 5-line, as (ii), terminating in sprays in ink with gold leaves; (v) to major divisions of (1), 5-line, in blue or pink patterned with white, enclosing historiation (see below), with type (1) border (see below); (vi) to (1), 10-line, in blue patterned with white and gold decorated with frets in blue and pink, enclosing historiation (see below), with type (2) border.

Borders: (1) with initials of type (iii and v), a bar (3 mm. wide) of gold and parallel alternately deep pink and blue sections down sides and below text, sprays in inner margin in ink with gold leaves, and, on the other three sides of pages, 20-25 mm wide, reflexed leaves and flower-heads in shaded green, blue, deep pink and orange, and small leaves in gold with ink bristles', also, on f.22v issuing from gold vases, and f.50, 64 and 81v, in patterns of interlacing stems of deep pink and shaded green; all to a straight outer edge; (2) with type (vi) initial, badly rubbed, as (i), except bar replaced by areas of solid gold, up to 16 mm wide, in sections, decorated alternately with fret interlacings of deep pink and blue, and with pairs of curling serrated leaves of shaded green, blue or deep pink, interspersed with gold balls.

Corrections and annotation

Substantial amount of correction, later 15th century: by subpunctuation f.31, 44, 84; by blotting out or deletion in red, e.g. f.16, 84, 96v; by interlineation, e.g. f.30, 139v; by marginal supply, e.g. f.31, 33, 44, 62, 110, 118v, 122v, 142v, 151, 153, 163, 164; and over erasure, e.g. f.12v, 16v, 45, 71v-72, by the hand of supplies on f.82rv and 164v, which was also responsible for the marginal supplies on f.118v, 122v, 151 and 153, as well as correction of versal initials. The hand of (6) was responsible for the marginal supply on f.110. Marks in the margins of f.1v-36, ` ; , indicate the insertion of punctuation for medial pauses in verses. Versals of type (i) corrected by substitution over erasure, e.g. f.34v; no attempt to make good flourishing, replacement blue darker than original, and gold replaced with the same deep pink as on f.82 supply.

In (1) Psalms 2-16, f.1v-10, have arabic numbers added in the 16th or 17th century, corresponding to those in Coverdale's version (1535) and in The Book of Common Prayer (1549), also verse numbers.


Slightly bevelled wooden boards, recovered in brown leather, but preserving badly damaged old sides of brown leather, each blind-stamped, probably with Oldham 1952, roll FP.f(7), recorded 1507-1620, see p. 47 and pl. xlii., to form a central lozenge within a double border; two early brass clasps on short straps, fixed to the front board by crude plates, with corresponding rounded-wedge catch-plates on the back board; edges of leaves stained red.

Manuscript history

Written in Flanders, mid 15th century.


Written for the English market. Book plate of Thomas Sharp indicates it became part of the Bamburgh Castle Library between 1732 and 1758.

Manuscript contents
Original title: Psalter
Language: Latin

Psalms 80:9 - 81:3 omitted on f.83, marked “vacat” and missing text supplied on f.82.

Modern title: Six ferial canticles
Language: Latin

Benedicite; Benedictus; Magnificat; Nunc dimittis; Te deum; Quicumque vult

Modern title: Litany
Language: Latin
Modern title: Office of the Dead
Language: Latin
Language: Latin

Psalms 80:9 - 81:3, apparently a rejected supply leaf to correct the omission on f.83.


Gameson, Richard, Treasures of Durham University Library (London: Third Millennium, 2007)

Ker, N.R., Medieval manuscripts in British libraries. II Abbotsford - Keele, (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1977)

Oldham, J.B., English blind-stamped bindings (Cambridge: CUP, 1952)