British Library, Additional MS 70000
(Percy Psalter)


Produced: England (York), 1280-1290
Location: British Library, London, England, UK
Type: Psalter
Language: Latin
Folios: 168
Illustrated: Yes
Media: Parchment
Script: Gothic
Dimensions: Height: 17.5 cm Width: 12 cm
Folio 55r


The bestiary scenes all appear near the bottom of a few more elaborately decorated pages, usually resting on the decorative page frame. Other animals are drawn individually or in small scenes at the top and bottom of the pages. Most illustrations are simple pen drawings with a color wash.

The manuscript does not appear to have been highly valued by its owner. Starting about midway through the manuscript many pages have been defaced with graffiti consisting of crude pen swirls, faces and architectural drawings, as well as several inscriptions naming people and calling on God for mercy. The penwork all seems to be by the same hand. One inscription (folio 119v) reads: "By fire alas my house was smoked so / By Water Bad my Throat was choak'd so / By Woman bad the Jews gain'd Jerico" followed by (on folio 120r): "Fire, Water, Women are Mens Ruin; / Says Wise Proffesor Vander Bruin".

Other psalters with marginal scenes from the bestiary include Queen Mary Psalter (British Library, Royal MS 2 B VII) and Bayerische Staatsbibliothek, Gall.16.

[Adapted from the British Library description]

This manuscript is an illuminated Psalter made in York in the last quarter of the thirteenth century. It is the first part of the Percy Hours (Add MS 89379), which originally formed a single-volume Psalter-Hours.

Borders with marginal images, including scenes from the bestiary, in colours and gold: animals and hybrids (ff. 2v-14r); a stag hunt, with portraits of a lady and knight and 3 coats of arms (f. 16r); lions licking their cubs, with a magpie (f. 39v); the capture of a unicorn, with hybrids, a pelican feeding its young, and an owl (f. 55r); a beaver hunt, with a centaur, boar and crane (f. 65r); the capture of an antelope, with an owl, rabbit, bird and fighting cocks (f. 66r); a monkey hunt, with jays, a somersaulting woman, a hybrid and rabbits; a yale hunt, with an owl, a duck and a dog (f. 113v); two mermaids (f. 115v).

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