c. 1180-1220 - The Iona Psalter

A devotional work believed to have been created for Beatrix, the first Prioress of the Augustinian nunnery of Iona and the daughter of Somerled, the Lord of the Isles. Her possession of such a prestigious manuscript points to the power and importance both of the Christian community at Iona and of the Lordship of the Isles.

The psalter was probably made in Oxford, a centre of excellence for manuscript production. The Calendar and Litany indicate that it was intended for Iona. The decoration of the manuscript is relatively sparse, but the quality of the illumination is remarkable, ranging from large initials and their spiralling decoration to lively beasts and fish that fill the gaps at the end of lines. The facsimile shows the 'Beatus' page - taken from the first word of the first psalm - which is magnificently decorated with images of the biblical King David playing the harp, accompanied by three musicians.

Acquired by the National Library of Scotland with assistance from the Friends of the National Libraries, and the Pilgrim Trust.
MS. 10000

The Iona Psalter
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