DCL MS. A.IV.3Commentary on Psalms
Held by: Durham Cathedral Library: Durham Cathedral Manuscripts

Manuscript codex containing an anonymous Commentary on Psalms written in England in the early 13th century.

Digitised: https://n2t.durham.ac.uk/ark:/32150/t1m4m90dv63j.html

Physical description of manuscript

Parchment: low quality with a glaring H/F contrast; leaves of different sizes with numerous edgecuts and flaws, many heavily follicle-marked. Arranged FH, HF. Moderate damp damage throughout, spreading in from the fore-edge; the first and last pages are more weathered and stained than the rest; an original flaw bisecting f.56 has re-joined by a modern repair.

Extent: i+137+i f
Size: 260 mm x 192 mm


Modern pencil foliation.

Secundo folio: Et erit tanquam lignum

I9 (original structure uncertain: leaves 2, 4 and 7 are singletons; the bifolium 1+9 and the singleton 2 are all glued to the outside of the bifolium 3+8), II-III8, IV-V12, VI-VII10, VIII-IX12, X-XI4, XII-XV8

Catchwords: Contemporary catchwords survive in whole or part on most of quires II-XI; no surviving signatures or catchwords in quires XII-XV.
Signatures: Quires I-XI bear two sets of contemporary signatures: a Roman numeral on the first recto and the last verso (many of the latter set are more or less cropped).

Written area: up to 206-222 x 155-160 mm. Conceived as 2 columns per page (width, 70-80 mm) but only the left-hand one was regularly planned for. Lines: up to 54 (space, 4 mm; height of minims, 1+ mm). Pricking: knife; generally upper and lower margins only; in quire I (where 2 columns were supplied) also in the outer margin. Ruling: generally ink, occasionally (e.g. f.9v-13v) lead. A left-hand column was invariably drawn; a right-hand one was also supplied on f.1-11 and 106-137 (quires XII-XV). Where there is a left-hand column only, it is flanked by single verticals and no horizontals are extended. On f.1-11 and 106-137, single verticals flank both columns, the first two and last two horizontals are generally extended. The ruling was not carefully done: some verticals are off-true; slips and re-rulings are common.


The majority of the text was written by two scribes: one responsible for all of quires III-XI, part of II, and possibly part of I) and the other responsible for quires XII-XV, with various other hands appearing in the first two quires. Their script is Textualis libraria, and the writing is confined to the left-hand column of the pages in question.


None. Each block of text is normally introduced by a paraph (done in the ink of the text to f.105v, thereafter in red or green). The lemmata at the start of commentaries are sometimes underlined in ordinary ink.


Standard Tuckett binding, mid 19th century full brown calf over thick wooden boards (Charles Tuckett, binder to the British Museum, rebound many Durham manuscripts in the 19th century)

Manuscript history

Written in England, early 13th century.


Inscription: “‘.I.I. liber Sancti Cuthberti de Armario Dunelm′. Glose Super psalterium”, 13th/14th century; f.1r, top. To which was added: “de splendement”, 15th/16th century, probably by Thomas Swalwell, monk of Durham c.1483-1539. Listed in the 1392 Spendement catalogue.

Manuscript contents
(a)     f.1r-137v
Modern title: Anonymous Psalm Commentary
Incipit: Versus iste potest esse thema in festo uniuscuiusque martiris uel confessoris, qui non abiit per consensum uoluntatis
Explicit: et superfluitates uestium fingendas curiositas christiana uarios habet et facit artifices quibus fortassis careret ydolatria
Language: Latin

Breaks off incomplete or unfinished at Psalm 143.12. The commentary is generally set out as a single block of text on the left-hand column of each page, invariably starting with a lemma and often ending with a quotation from another biblical book. The text supplied by the original scribe in the right-hand column of f.5r was entirely, albeit rather ineffectively, erased. The text written by the original scribe in the left-hand column of f.82v was erased and a longer text supplied in rasura by a different hand. The layout indicates that the text was designed for expansion throughout.

Citation: Stegmüller RBMA 9082

Microfilmed in 1985/86 by the Hill Monastic Manuscript Library, St John's Abbey and University, Collegeville, Minnesota. Copies held by them and Durham Cathedral Library.

Digitised material for Durham Cathedral Library MS. A.IV.3 - Commentary on the Psalter
Digitised February 2020 as part of the Durham Priory Library Recreated project


Catalogi veteres librorum Ecclesiae cathedralis dunelm. Catalogues of the library of Durham cathedral, at various periods, from the conquest to the dissolution, including catalogues of the library of the abbey of Hulne, and of the mss.   OCLC citation, Surtees Society 7, (London: J.B. Nichols and Son, [1838]).

Stegmüller, Friedrich, Repertorium biblicum medii aevi   OCLC citation (Madrid: 1950-1980)

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