Blickling Psalter

Blickling Psalter, also known as Lothian Psalter, is an 8th-century Insular illuminated manuscript containing a Roman Psalter with two additional sets of Old English glosses.[1]

The earlier of the two sets is the oldest surviving English translation of the Bible, albeit a very fragmentary one.[2][3][4][5][6] It consists of 26 glosses, either interlinear or marginal, scattered throughout the manuscript.[1] These so-called "red glosses"[7] are written by a single scribe mostly in red ink[8] in what is known as West Saxon minuscule, an Insular script found, for example, in charters of Æthelwulf, King of Wessex from 839 to 858.[9][10] The glosses were first published in by E. Brock in 1876.[11] A number of corrections were subsequently offered by Henry Sweet in 1885,[12] and by Karl Wildhagen in 1913.[13]

Only some of the psalms originally contained in the Blickling Psalter survive: Psalms 31.3–36.15 on folios 1–5, Psalms 36.39–50.19 on folios 6–16, and Psalm 9.9–30 on folio 64.[14]

The Psalter is sometimes included in the Tiberius group,[15] a group of manuscripts from Southern England stylistically related to the Tiberius Bede (such as Vespasian Psalter, Stockholm Codex Aureus, Barberini Gospels and Book of Cerne).[16]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b McGowan 2007, p. 205
  2. ^ According to Bede's Ecclesiastical History of the English People 4.24, 7th-century poet Cædmon retold Biblical stories in Old English verse (see Stanton 2002, p. 103); his only surviving work, the 9-line-long Cædmon's Hymn, is not of this type
  3. ^ Bede is reported by his disciple to have been working on a translation of the Gospel of John into Old English at the time of his death, reaching as far as chapter 6 verse 9 (Epistola Cuthberti de obitu Bedae, Cuthbert's Letter on the Death of Venerable Bede, see 1845 translation by John Allen Giles); nothing of this work is known to survive (see Wansbrough 2008, p. 537)
  4. ^ Stanton 2002, p. 104: "[After Cædmon and Bede] are the psalter glosses <...> which date from the ninth to the twelfth centuries."
  5. ^ McGowan 2007, p. 205: "The earliest layer of psalter-glossing in Anglo-Saxon England was made in red ink in <...> the ‘Blickling Psalter’"
  6. ^ Roberts 2011, p. 61: "The first glossed psalters extant from Anglo-Saxon England have ninth-century glossing. Earliest perhaps is the scattering of glossing in red ink added to the eight-century Blickling Psalter."
  7. ^ McGowan 2007
  8. ^ But also in black ink on folio 64r/v, "quite possibly" by the same scribe, see Crick 1997, pp. 68–69
  9. ^ Gretsch 2000, p. 105 n. 78
  10. ^ Crick 1997
  11. ^ Brock 1876
  12. ^ Sweet 1885, pp. 122–123
  13. ^ Wildhagen 1913, pp. 16–19[432–435]
  14. ^ Psalm references broken down by folio, 1r: 31.3–11, 1v: 32.1–12, 2r: 32.12–33.2, 2v: 33.3–15, 3r: 33.16–34.3, 3v: 34.4–13, 4r: 34.13–23, 4v: 34.23–35.6, 5r: 35.6–36.3, 5v: 36.3–15, 6r: 36.39–37.10, 6v: 37.11–20, 7r: 37.20–38.7, 7v: 38.8–39.4, 8r: 39.4–13, 8v: 39.13–40.4, 9r: 40.5–14, 9v: 41.2–10, 10r: 41.10–42.5, 10v: 43.2–11, 11r: 43.11–22, 11v: 43.22–44.5, 12r: 44.6–17, 12v: 44.17–45.9, 13r: 45.9–46.9, 13v: 46.10–471.2, 14r: 47.12–48.10, 14v: 48.11–19, 15r: 48.19–49.8, 15v: 49.8–19, 16r: 49.20–50.7, 16v: 50.8–19, 64r: 9.9–21, 64v: 9.21–30 (see Pulsiano 2001, p. lv)
  15. ^ Brown 2011, p. 134
  16. ^ Brown 2005, p. 282
  17. ^ Crick 1997, plate VII
  18. ^ Pulsiano 2001, p. xxxvii; plagę. uestigia published as plagæ uestigia in Brock 1876, p. 255, and as plagae vestigia in Sweet 1885, p. 122 (æ, ae and e caudata (ę) represent the same sound)
  19. ^ cicatrices is Latin for "scars", plagae vestigia is Latin for "traces of wounds", same as Old-English dolgsuaþhe, compound of dolg ("wound") and suaþhe ("traces", see Bosworth-Toller Anglosaxon Dictionary: entry + addenda)


  • E. Brock (1876) The Blickling Glosses, in: Richard Morris (1876) The Blickling Homilies, Volume II, pp. 251–263
  • Michelle P. Brown (2005). "Mercian manuscripts? The "Tiberius" group and its historical context". In Michelle P. Brown; Carol A. Farr (eds.). Mercia: An Anglo-Saxon Kingdom in Europe. pp. 281–291. ISBN 9781441153531. google books preview
  • Michelle P. Brown (2011). "Writing in the Insular world". In Richard Gameson (ed.). The Cambridge History of the Book in Britain. The Cambridge History of the Book in Britain Volume 1: c.400–1100. Cambridge University Press. pp. 121–166. doi:10.1017/CHOL9780521583459.005. ISBN 9780521583459.
  • Julia Crick (1997). "The case for a West Saxon minuscule". Anglo-Saxon England. 26: 63–79. doi:10.1017/S0263675100002118. hdl:10036/3049. pdf available online
  • relevant plates (V–VIII) are available online between pages 24 and 25 of another article in the same volume of the journal, doi:10.1017/S026367510000209X