George IV Bridge – celebrating 50 years
The Iona Psalter: acquired in 1960
The Iona Psalter at the National Library of Scotland was probably written in Oxford between 1180 and 1220. The calendar and litany include a number of Iona saints, which suggests that the psalter was intended for Beatrix, the first prioress of the Augustinian priory of Iona.
Both the script of the psalter and its decoration are of remarkable quality, ranging from large initials with decorative spiralling to the lively beasts and fish which fill the gaps at the ends of lines. The 'Beatus' page shown here is magnificently decorated with four medallions containing images of King David harping and three musicians.
Oxford was known as a centre of 13th-century book production. The original owners of manuscripts made there often lived far from Oxford and our Iona Psalter is a good example of this phenomenon.
The manuscript's significance was recognised by the Pilgrim Trust and the Friends of the National Libraries, and both organisations contributed towards its purchase.