Ramsey Psalter

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Beatus initial, f.4

The Psalter of Oswald also called Ramsey Psalter (Harley MS 2904) is an illuminated manuscript of the tenth century. Its script and decoration suggest that it was made at Winchester, but certain liturgical features have suggested that it was intended for use at the Benedictine monastery of Ramsey, or for the personal use of Ramsey's founder St Oswald. The litany includes a gold-lettered triple invocation of St Benedict of Nursia, and at the time of writing, probably before Oswald's death in 992, Ramsey was the only monastery dedicated to this saint.

Unsurprisingly for a manuscript with such strong connections to a monastic reformer like Oswald, the decoration shows strong Continental influence, including a famous tinted line drawing of the Crucifixion executed in the style of the Utrecht Psalter, and in its painted panels shows use of acanthus, a popular form of decoration on the Continent at this time; equally, however, there is use of insular interlace designs.[1]

It is believed that the monks of Ramsey were the first to produce illuminated capitals. The psalter probably was produced between 980 and 1000.[2]


  1. J Backhouse, DH Turner and L Webster ed. "The Golden Age of Anglo-Saxon Art" (British Museum, 1984)
  2. The Great Benedictine Abbey of Ramsey

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