The St Albans Psalter, one of the most impressive medieval manuscripts created in twelfth-century England, has been digitized and is now available to view for free online. Along with being able its 209 folios, visitors to the website will be able to read a full transcription, translation and commentary on the pages, along with essays detailing the importance of the manuscript.
The project was created Professor Jane Geddes of the University of Aberdeen, with backing from the Arts and Humanities Research Council. Also known as the Psalter of Christina of Markyate, it was created for the Anglo-Saxon hermitess by her admirer Abbot Geoffrey at St Albans Abbey sometime between 1125 and 1145. Christina probably kept the psalter at her priory of Markyate, Hertfordshire, until the Reformation. After this, a fugitive English Catholic brought the manuscript to the Benedictine monastery of Lamspringe, founded in 1643, in Lower Saxony, and it was subsequently moved to St Godehard’s church, Hildesheim, when the monastery was suppressed in 1803.
It took over twelve years to have the manuscript digitized – in part because the parishioners of the German church at first objected to posting it online, but when the manuscript needed repairs to it binding it allowed for the opportunity to unbound and photograph each of the folios. The manuscript is now just finishing being displayed as part of an exhibition at the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles (Click here to read more about the exhibition)
Professor Geddes explains “Each page on the website has an illustration from the book, then a transcription and a translation, and then you have to click again to get a commentary from me, and if you just want to leave that out you don’t have to read that section, you could just start working it out for yourself.”
The St Albans Psalter contains a month-by-month calendar that includes important feast days, psalms, hymns, prayers and a letter from Pope Gregory the Great. Many of the folios have full page illustrations in a Romanesque style.