Psalter prefaced by Sarum use calendar, [c.1450]

Scope and Content

Psalter, known as the St Andrews Psalter. A Sarum rite calendar together with Psalms 1-150. English hand. The calendar is not defaced but wants all the Canticles except Confitebor [wanting v.6 onwards]. The whole is marked up as for the usage of the Book of Common Prayer.

Illuminated initials to psalms 1, 26, 38, 52, 68, 80, 97 and 109 in colours on decorated gold grounds. Borders in gold and colours, with illustrations of flowers, men, birds, monkeys, dragon, griffin and other creatures.

Administrative / Biographical History

Books of the Psalms were known as psalters, often also containing calendars, canticles, prayers and creeds. They were popularly used for private devotions but could also be used for liturgical purposes where all 150 psalms were to be recited each week. Depictions of King David, supposed author of many of the Psalms, frequently introduce the psalter; many of the surviving examples are richly ornamented. Psalms were also important in prayer books and later in books of hours.

Calendars were often found at the start of a manuscript, preceding devotional texts. They could be illuminated, and usually used different colours, especially red, to highlight feast days. The particular feast days and saints’ days commemorated can give clues as to the provenance of the work. They may include devices for calculating movable feasts, such as Easter Tables.

The Sarum rite or use applied to the liturgical customs, rites and calendar associated with the medieval cathedral of Salisbury, which was also known as Sarum. This was based on the Roman rites of the eleventh century, but with various French, Norman and local influences. It was said to have been instituted by St Oswald, a Norman noble and bishop of Sarum or Salisbury from 1078, who revised the missal, breviary and ritual to ensure that the existing Anglo-Saxon versions agreed with those of Rome. It was widely copied and spread through England and into Scotland. The Sarum churches followed the Roman ecclesiastical calendar, starting the year on 25 March, the date of the Annunciation, and supplementing it, as is still done, with a host of local feasts.


Single item

Access Information

By appointment with the Keeper of Manuscripts. Access to records containing confidential information may be restricted.

Acquisition Information

Eighteenth century or earlier.f.1 has eighteenth century press mark of the University of St Andrews.

Other Finding Aids

Individual Manuscripts and Small Collections database available as part of Manuscripts Database.

Alternative Form Available

Colour negatives of the illuminated pages are stored in box at start of Library of Congress sequence in St Andrews University Library.

Physical Characteristics and/or Technical Requirements

Binding: Brown morocco, gold lettering. Binding of the eighteenth century replaced by Cockerell in March 1961.

Vellum: 18.8x26.2cm

Archivist's Note

Description compiled by Maia Sheridan, Archives Hub project archivist, based on material from the Manuscripts Database

Conditions Governing Use

Applications for permission to quote should be sent to the Keeper of Manuscripts. Reproduction subject to usual conditions: educational use and condition of documents.




Full description in N R Ker and A J Piper, Medieval Manuscripts in British Libraries Oxford, 1992, Vol. IV (Paisley to York) p.244. The initial to Psalm 109 is reproduced in facsimile in Tresors des Bibliotheques d’Ecosse (Brussels, 1963) plate 9.