The following is the text of a paper given at the London Medieval Manuscripts Seminar, in the Palaeography Room, Senate House, on 6 November 1997. I have revised a number of the opinons presented here, but hope that this provides a context for my suggestion that the 'Christina' initial to Psalm 105 was not a significantly later addition to the volume (see Geddes (2005), p. 95 and the Aberdeen website).

Links have been provided to the images on the Aberdeen university website, and to online versions of the handout that was provided, but the text has not been altered, nor expanded of fill-out the passages that were ad libbed. The slides shown in 1997 often showed openings of facing pages, which the Aberdeen website unfortunately does not usually provide.


It is reported for the first time that the outer bifolium of the first quire of the Psalms text is by a differeent scribe than the rest of the Psalms text. The likely reason is that the original opening of Psalm 1 was not eleborate enough, and so it was re-done to produce the openign that we have today. The bifolium is written in a style of script that has been believed to have developed at St Albans c.1140, and it is decorated by the same artists as the rest of the Psalms. The implication is that the Psalms section of the Psalter was still being produced c.1140, a decade or more later than many scholars had previosuly thought. This also means that the pasted-in initial to Psalm 105, previously dated to c.1135 or later, could be contemporary with the mansucript, rather than a subsequent addition.

A reassessment of the scribes of the St Alban's Psalter: art historical and other implications

[Opening slide: Flagellation, etc.]

The Psalter of Christina of Markyate, the English 12th-century Psalter now in Hildesheim, Germany -- which is also known by such names as the St. Alban's or Albani Psalter -- will probably be known to most of you as one of the masterpieces of Romanesque art. The main artist is one of the thought to be one of the most inventive and influential of the century, and it is therefore of some interest to find out whatever we can about his single greatest surviving work.

Since Adolf Goldschmidt devoted a monograph to the manuscript in 1895, the psalter has now been the subject of detailed scholarly attention for more than a century. The study of the psalter has naturally come a long way during this time, and although the bibliography becomes ever larger each year, I just want to mention a few of the most influential studies of recent decades, since I shall have reason to refer to some of them again later on. The first is the lavish monograph published by the Warburg Institute in 1960, written by three of the leading scholars of the day: Otto Pächt, C. R. Dodwell, and Francis Wormald.

At almost exactly the same time that the Warburg monograph appeared, C. H. Talbot published his edition of the unique manuscript of the remarkably detailed biography of Christina, who almost certainly owned the Psalter, a saintly virgin and recluse who later became prioress of the nunnery at Markyate, just a few miles from St. Albans, to the north of London.

[Slide: Markyate]

Talbot's book, long out of print, has recently been re-published in paperback by Toronto University Press.

Although the text of his edition was made available to Pächt, Dodwell, and Wormald before their book went to the press, it seems that they did not see it in time to fully digest its implications for their own work.

And third, in 1982 the Psalter was treated at length in Rodney Thomson's detailed study of the Manuscripts of St. Albans Abbey, 1066-1235.

Whatever else we may wish to know about the Psalter, scholars have focused again and again on the old fundamental questions: who made the book, where, when, and for whom? These might seem like very old-fashioned questions to be asking, but they are important both for old-fashioned reasons - since the manuscript is so important to an understanding of the development of 12th-century English art - and also for somewhat newer ones, since Christina is one of the most interesting of all medieval women known to us, and the manuscript is a unique monument to medieval devotional practices. These questions are still valid today because after all this time and scholarly effort, we have arrived at only a partial consensus when it comes to answers. Having said that, however, almost everyone agrees that the book was made at the expense of Geoffrey, abbot of St. Albans from 1119 to 1146. Almost everyone agrees that it must therefore have been made at St. Albans, even though the main artist seems not to have worked there exclusively, and despite the fact that the main scribe of the Psalter seems never to have worked there on any other manuscript. And everyone agrees that the Psalter was owned by, and tailored for, Christina of Markyate, about whom I shall say more in due course.

Among the many areas of disagreement, however, are two main questions which I plan to talk about today:

First: was the psalter originally intended for Christina of Markyate from the start, or was it was adapted for her use only after it had been begun?

And second, when, during Abbot Geoffrey's 27-year abbacy (1119 to 1146) was the book made? My title is intended to emphasise that observations in one area, such as an examination of script, can have important implications for another, such as an understanding of images.

But before I go into any detail, I think it would perhaps be useful to take you on a quick guided tour of the structure and main components of the book. Part of what I shall have to say later is related to the physical structure of the first several gatherings, or quires, of the manuscript, and I have therefore provided you with a diagram of these on your handout.

[Explain handout, incl. pagination, quires, etc.].

[SLIDE: Jan]

As is usual in a Psalter, the volume opens with a Calendar listing the feasts of the church year. This occupies Quire I, as shown in the diagram; and I show the January page on the screen. The main script of the calendar is very similar to that found in at least one other manuscript from St. Albans.

As Goldshmidt pointed out in 1895, a record of the death of Roger the Hermit, who was a close friend and protector of Christina, has been added to the Calendar on 12 September by a different hand, which we shall meet again in a moment. Dodwell was able to establish from documentary evidence that Roger died between January 1121 and January 1123, and concluded that if Roger died before 1123, and if his death was recorded as an addition to the calendar, then the original writing out of the calendar must pre-date his death, and thus pre-date1123.

Other writers such as Thomson have quite rightly pointed out the flaw in this logic, namely that that the calendar might have been written after 1123, and then the obit added later still; so now most scholars hedge their bets by proposing a date-range starting early, at about 1120, and extending a decade to about 1130.

[SLIDE: Feb. detail]

There are two other scribes whose work is found in the calendar, the most important of which made a large number of additions, and whose work can probably be dated to after 1155, since one of the additions is a record of the death of Christina, and documentary evidence suggests that she was still alive in that year. The other scribe made just two additions to the calendar, datable to 1145 or later, since one of them records the foundation of the nunnery of Markyate, of which Christina was prioress, and of which the dated foundation charter survives.

[Slide: pp. 22-23: Annunciation to Shepherds]

Quires II and III are occupied by a series of full-page miniatures, mostly taken from the Bible, especially the life of Christ. Among the earlier scenes is the Annunciation, and shortly after this comes the Annunciation to the Shepherds and the Three Magi before Herod, now on the screen. The scenes I am showing are chosen simply because I have colour slides of them.

[SLIDE: p. 48: Entombment]

Later on in the gospel narrative, Quire III ends with the Incredulity of Thomas [SLIDE: p. 52] now on the left of the screen.

Then something very odd happens. As you can see from your handout, Quire IV consists of just two leaves of which the first depicts two scenes, one above the other, relating to St. Martin, but there is no apparent reason for their presence here. After this unexplained intrusion the cycle then returns to the post-passion events of the Gospel narratives, with the Ascension of Christ, and Pentecost.

[SLIDE: pp. 56-57]

On the last page of this quire there is an image of King David as composer of the Psalms, shown wearing his crown, but accompanied by a sheep and a goat, alluding to the fact that he started life as a humble shepherd-boy.

This image faces a coloured drawing, the first page of Quire V, which illustrates some of the key moments in the legend of St. Alexis, a version of which is written in French, on this and the following several pages. It is this very unusual scene which was chosen to give the Alexis Master, the main artist of the miniatures in the Psalter, his name. This quire is distinct from the rest of the volume by the layout of its pages, its use of French, and the handwriting of the text: the scribe is thought to be the same as the person who added the obit of Roger the Hermit, which I mentioned a moment ago.

[SLIDE: p. 70-71]

Next, but still in the same gathering, comes a sort of mini-cycle of three scenes, with the Meeting of Christ with the disciples on the Road to Emmaus, the meal at Emmaus, and Christ's disappearance from the table. It has been convincingly argued that the Emmaus scenes were included in the book because they bear a striking resemblance to events in Christina's own life, in which a mysterious stranger appeared to Christina, and then even more mysteriously disappeared, from within a closed room.

[SLIDES: pp. 72-73

Now we have finally reached the text of the Psalms themselves. On the verso of the leaf with the final Emmaus scene, the last page of Quire V, we find a second image of David composing the Psalms; but this time enclosed in the letter 'B' which starts the Latin text of the first Psalm: 'Beatus vir...', 'Blessed in the man...'.

This faces a page of fancy, foliate display capitals spelling out the first several words of Psalm 1, on the first page of quire VI.

[SLIDES, p. 232-233 - note tail of 'Q']

The Psalms themselves, written by yet another scribe, have the unprecedented feature that each Psalm starts with a very large historiated initial, each of which has a caption, usually taken from the text of the Psalm, either written next to the initial, as in the example on the screen ... [Slide: p. 78] ... or inserted into it, as here, where it has been added on the book held by one of the figures. I don't have time to go into the details now, but it seems that the Alexis Master designed the initials, and they were then painted by probably two assistants.

Although it is not entirely relevant, I would like to just run quickly through a few other slides to give you an idea of the appearance of some of the other pages with these unusually large historiated initials.

[Slide: p. 207]

Here we see the effect of two initials on a single page... [Slide: p. 193] ... here we see how the scribe clearly pre-planned the writing of the text to accommodate the shape of an initial ... [Slide: p. 299] ... and here you get an idea of how the decoration can dwarf the text on a page.

The captions to the initials were apparently written by the scribe of the Alexis quire and the obit of Roger the Hermit. The implication is that this scribe came along after the Calendar and Psalms had been written, and made three main additions to the book: (a) the obit of Roger, (b) the main text of the Alexis quire, and (c) the captions to the Psalm initials. For this and other reasons, such as the fact that Christina's own Emmaus-like experiences seem to have occurred relatively late in her life, it has been suggested that the Alexis quire is a later insertion into the book, as are the associated scribal additions, perhaps post-dating the original parts of the volume by a decade or more.

[Slide: p. 416]

We now get to the end of the volume, with two full-page miniatures depicting the martyrdom of St. Alban, and yet a third image of David, which I show here [Slide: p. 417].

Main section

Well, as the title of my talk might suggest, I am not just concerned with the handwriting of the manuscript, but also with what an examination of the script might be able to tell us about the production of the book in more general terms. I essentially have just two simple observations to make today; and I shall try to keep the detailed analysis of scribal features to a minimum, so as to allow time to consider some of their more interesting implications.

[SLIDE: p. 285]

The first observation concerns the highly problematic historiated initial to Psalm 105, now on the screen, found on page 285 of the manuscript. To set out the problems that this initial raises, I shall quote at length from Dodwell's analysis in the 1960 Warburg monograph:

Dodwell wrote:

This initial differs from the others in more than one way. First, the caption which it illustrates has not (as is almost the invariable rule in this manuscript) been taken from the text of the Psalm. Secondly, it is probably later than the other initials and painted by a different artist. Thirdly, it is the only initial which has been made on a separate piece of vellum, which has then been stuck on to the main page. The reason for this is difficult to understand, since, when the page is held up against the light there is no evidence of another initial underneath.[End quote.]

Dodwell goes on to suggest, and no one has disagreed, that the initial depicts the saintly virgin Christina herself interceding before Christ, on behalf of a group of monks of St. Albans.

[Explain with slide] Dodwell has two main problems with this initial. The first is a methodological one: namely that neither the caption nor the image fits his hypothesis, on which his whole chapter is based, that the initials and their captions were designed to emphasise various aspects of the Benedictine way of life. The second problem is a practical one: he cannot understand why the initial should have been pasted in on a separate piece of parchment, because, surely, if there was no previous initial here to be covered-up, the artist could have painted the new initial straight into the blank space which it now covers? So far as I am aware, everyone that has referred to the initial has described it as being significantly later than all the others, but no one has provided an explanation for its many unusual features.

This initial has long caused puzzlement, but I believe that unnecessary confusion has been caused by the fact that the caption which accompanies the initial is written in a style of script which looks considerably later than the writing both of the main Psalter text, and of the captions to the other initials. The script of the caption is in what Thomson calls the 'Style II' St. Albans script, which I shall have more to say about in due course. In essence though, I may summarise by saying that in Thomson's analysis, Style I script dates from before about 1140, when this Psalter is though to have been made, and Style II script dates from after about 1140. Wormald and Thomson both state that the caption to this initial was written by the scribe who made additions to the calendar which are datable to after 1155, which I mentioned in passing earlier. In an earlier version of this talk I intended to undertake a detailed scribal analysis to explain why I think this identification is wrong, but I have since realised that it does not in the end materially affect my argument either way, so I shall spare you.

If you are willing to accept my assertion on trust for the time being, we can turn away from the question of the scribe of the caption and focus our attention instead on what promises to be a far more productive and interesting use of our energies, namely to try to understand WHY the initial was pasted-in on a separate piece of parchment. I can envisage two scenarios in which this situation might have arisen, but one of them is so unlikely, that I do not think anyone could take it very seriously.

In the unlikely sequence of events, the scribe would have written the text of the Psalms, leaving spaces for each initial as he went, as was usual. Then, when the main artist sketched out the designs for all the other initials, he left this one space blank, for no apparent reason; and when the other artists responsible for applying paint to these sketches worked through the volume, various other adaptations, alterations, and improvements were made to the Psalter, such as addition of the Alexis quire and the writing of the captions to all the other Psalm initials, nothing was done to rectify this gaping hole. Finally, it was only a number of decades after the Psalter had been finished, that someone decided to fill the gap with the present initial, but this person did not bother to rectify some other obvious textual omissions, which remain to this day… [Slide: p. 173] … to give one example of such a glaring omission, I show the initial to Psalm 51, whose opening words should read 'Quid gloriaris in malitia', but the 'quid gloriaris' bit has been left out.

[BACK one to p. 285]

Leaving that explanation of events to one side, then, let me move swiftly on to what I think is a far more credible alternative.

The scenario which I personally find the easiest to accept, is that the initial to Psalm 105 was executed some time before the text of the Psalms was written, or possibly at about the same time -- but not after. I envisage a situation in which Abbot Geoffrey of St. Albans decided to commission a Psalter, quite unprecedented in the lavishness of its decoration, for his close friend and confidante Christina of Markyate. But since nothing like this had ever been made in England before, at least not within living memory, he first commissioned a St. Albans artist, who has been identified in at least one other manuscript from St. Albans, to produce a sample historiated initial for such a Psalter. Not surprisingly, Geoffrey liked what he saw, and decided to go ahead with his plan to produce a whole Psalter with initials of this general type and size. Having decided on this major undertaking, he then called in the finest artist available in England, the so-called Alexis Master, but rather than waste the very fine existing initial, directed that a suitable place for it should be allocated during the writing of the text, into which it was duly glued once the text had been written. I am aware that this scenario is based on little more than speculation, but even if I have got the details of this series of events wrong, what I propose does at least have the merit that it neatly ties up several hitherto loose ends:

It has occasionally been suggested that the Psalter was originally intended for St. Albans, and was adapted for Christina's use only after it had been begun, but if what I am suggesting for this initial is correct, then one of the implications is that it would prove that the Psalter was made for Christina from the start. This should come as no surprise, because the calendar and litany preclude the possibility that it was originally intended for St. Albans use on liturgical grounds. Indeed, although the Calendar has a number of St. Albans feasts, it has others very specific to the region of Ramsey and Huntingdon, precisely the area in which Christina is known to have grown up.

And it follows from this, that if the book was made for Christina from the outset, it cannot have been started before 1123, the earliest possible date that she might have met Abbot Geoffrey. Thus we realise that the addition of the obit of Roger the Hermit, on which the dating of this manuscript has always been based, is almost completely irrelevant. Contrary to the long-held opinion that the Psalter must pre-date Roger's death in 1121/2, I am confident that it must post-date Geoffrey's meeting with Christina in 1123.

As an aside, I would like to suggest that it seems beyond a mere coincidence that, if an artist were going to execute an isolated historiated initial 'on spec', for possible later use in a Psalter, and he was therefore free to use any of the 17 or 18 letters of the alphabet with which one or more Psalms begin, he should choose the initial letter 'C', for a depiction of Christina.

The reason why I did not attempt to persuade you that the script of the caption of this initial, and of the post-1155 additions to the calendar, are NOT the same, is that it makes no difference: because even if the caption on the initial was written later than the rest of the manuscript, this does not necessarily mean that the initial itself is of the same date as the caption: the initial could have been executed and pasted into the book decades before someone added the caption. But if you object to my suggestions about this initial on the art historical grounds that, not only the script of the caption, but also the style of the painting , make it likely that the initial is a considerably later addition to the manuscript, then I shall try to resolve this problem in due course.

Point 2

[SLIDE: pp. 74-75]

I now want to move on to my second observation, which has more wide-ranging implications for our understanding of the manuscript. This concerns the handwriting of the main Psalms section of the Psalter.

By way of background, I should remind you that a large number of 12th-century manuscripts produced at St. Albans still survive to this day: Thomson describes over 100 manuscripts dating to before c.1235, of which the great majority are 12th-century. He, and others, have studied their script in great detail; and such study has revealed a sort of 'house-style' of St. Albans handwriting, which can be seen evolving through two main phases during the course of abbot Geoffrey's period of tenure, the so-called Style I and Style II St. Albans scripts. But despite this, and although the Psalter is almost universally believed to have been made at St. Albans at Abbot Geoffrey's behest, the script of the great majority of the volume, the text of the Psalms and the following prayers, is not of the recognisable St. Albans style, and has not been identified in any other manuscript, either from St. Albans or elsewhere.

In the 1960 monograph, Francis Wormald wrote a chapter on the handwriting of the Psalter, in which he identified five hands at work in the volume; most of which I have introduced you to already, and which are summarised on the handout.

In his assessment of the script he states that: "The hand of the Psalter [by which he means the Psalms section] seems to be uniform and it does not seem possible or profitable to divide it", and then he goes on to describe and analyse the letter-forms in some detail.

Thomson follows Wormald in the identification of five scribes, and agreed with him that the entire Psalms section was written by a single, otherwise unknown, hand.

It is this repeated statement that I wish to challenge now.

If you look at the slide on the screen, you will see two facing pages of the psalms, pages 74-75; and I hope that even if you are inexperienced at looking at twelfth-century script, with a little help, you will be able to see that they are written by two different scribes. The page on the left shows writing that is more regular, squarer, and more assured than that on the right. That on the right shows a very distinctive spiky serif to the left of the letters 'f' and tall 's', and at the top of ascenders on letters such as 'b' and 'd', which are absent on the left page. Some individual letter-forms are completely different: compare, for example, the lower bowl of the letter 'g', which has a pronounced hook on the left page, and a rather elegant curve on the right. We could go through the whole alphabet like this, but instead, finally compare the ampersands, such as those on the second line of each page: on the left the upper loop is set to the right of the lower loop, and the main descending stroke curves up from the line; while on the right, the upper loop is placed directly above the lower. And I could go through the whole alphabet like this.

[Explain with next two slides, pp. 74, 75]

I do not by any stretch of the imagination consider myself to be knowledgeable about 12th-century script, let alone that of St. Albans, so I wrote to Professor Thomson with my observation, and he replied with a very helpful letter in which he confirmed that I had indeed identified a second scribe at work in the Psalms; and he also added that this new scribe writes a good example of what he calls his 'Style II' of typical St. Albans script; and went on to list a number of St. Albans books with very similar handwriting.

So far, so good: if nothing else, we have now, for the first time, apparently established a firm link between the writing of the Psalms section of the books and the scriptorium of St. Albans, a link that had always been uncomfortably conspicuous by its absence. But what is particularly curious about this new scribe is that he wrote only one bifolium in the whole book, and this is the outer bifolium of the first quire of the psalms text. If you look at the quire diagram on your handout, you will see that I have marked this bifolium in bolder ink. From now on, for convenience, I shall call the newly-discovered scribe of this bifolium the 'new' scribe, as opposed to the 'main' scribe, who wrote the rest of the Psalms text.

It is the implications of the presence of the new scribe which I intend to discuss for most of the remainder of my time.

You will see from the quire diagram on the handout that there are three places where the new scribe's text comes up against that of the main scribe: at the juncture of pages 74 and 75; at the juncture of pages 90 to 91; and finally at the juncture of pages 92 to 93. As before, I can envisage two possible sequences of events; but again I shall just quickly rattle through the option that I consider to be most unlikely, so as to concentrate on the option which I find the most plausible.

[Demonstrate with mock-up of quire]

If the main scribe had written the whole of the first quire by himself, it would be a relatively easy matter for the new scribe to come along afterwards, and replace the outer bifolium of the quire, so long as he made sure that he copied the same amount of text onto each of the new leaves, as there had been on the original ones. If we look at the first place where the writing of the main scribe and the new scribe meet, we can see that the new scribe has been forced to squeeze up his writing considerably. Most obviously, he did not begin each new verse on a new line, as does the main scribe: clearly this would have been too wasteful of space. Towards the bottom of the page, the word 'fremuerunt', and the ampersand below it, have been made to spill out into the margin, presumably in order to avoid carrying the text over onto the next line down. Finally, in order to get the very last word onto the page, the word 'terre' has been abbreviated, even though the scribe might ordinarily have written it out -- the facing page is positively expansive by comparison: just look at all the blank space which the main scribe left at line-endings. One more point: you can see that the 'new' scribe writes his text so that it slightly follows the shape of the space of the intended historiated initial, whereas, if we turn the page to page 76, [SLIDE: p. 76] we see that this is in contrast to the normal practice of the main scribe, who leaves a squared-off space for each initial, regardless of whether its right-hand side was curved or vertical.

What happens then, you might ask, where the new scribe makes his next appearance?

[SLIDE: pp. 90-91]

If we turn skip ahead to pages 90 and 91, you can see that our new scribe, on the right-hand side, has now decided to start each new verse on a new line. All seems to be going well, until we again turn the page, [SLIDE: p. 92-93], and we find that he soon began to have doubts about whether he would be able to fit all the necessary text into the bottom 2/3rds of the page; he therefore started to write the verses as continuous text. Once again, he wrote his text so that it hugs the curve of the initial 'D' -- it is even more clearly visible in this case -- and once again, the text on the facing page is extremely spread out by comparison. By squeezing things up like this our new scribe managed to have almost half-a-line to spare when he reached the bottom of the page. If we can agree that this is HOW the new scribe came to write the outer bifolium of one quire, the next natural question is WHY did he do this?

Although it was unusual, what our new scribe did in the 12th century was by no means unique: without having made a special search, I have found exactly the same situation in two other English Psalters, one of the 11th-century, and one of the 13th, in which the outer bifolium of the first quire of the Psalms text is written in a different script to that of the rest of the Psalms. In each case, the rewritten leaf starts with a large decorative initial 'B' for the first word, 'Beatus'. And in each of these cases we can be confident that the new initial was bigger than the one it replaced, because, just as in the Psalter of Christina of Markyate, the scribe of the rewritten first leaf was forced to use various methods of squeezing more text onto each page: either by ruling an extra line for his text at the bottom of the page, or by squashing up his script to fit more words on to each line.

[Slide: pp. 72-73]

I hope, with all these other comparable examples pointing in one and the same direction you will be willing to accept my suggestion that this feature in the Christina's Psalter is, in all likelihood, due to the fact that, at some point after the first quire had been written, a decision was taken to replace the existing opening of the text with something more elaborate. In other words, the leaf with the original Beatus initial of the Psalter was removed and re-written, in order to allow the start of the Psalms text to be re-designed on a much grander scale. And indeed, in this book we have not only a historiated Beatus initial, but the very unusual page of display capitals with the first few words of the first psalm.

And it follows from this, since the replacement bifolium, written by the new scribe, has historiated initials by the same artists as in the rest of the Psalter, that the New scribe was working to re-design the start of the Psalms text at the same time as the rest of the Psalms were still being decorated. This seems to me to invite two conclusions, the first of which relates to the dating of the manuscript.

As I said before, it was Professor Thomson who confirmed my identification of the new scribe, and pointed out that this scribe wrote a typical 'Style II' St. Albans script. The significance of this is that, according to his own study, 'Style II' script seems not to have developed before about 1140. If the St. Albans Psalter was being made after the development of 'Style II' script, then this also provides an explanation for the 'Style II' script of the caption of the pasted-in initial depicting Christina, which we looked at in some detail earlier.

Interestingly enough, a late date is the one that sits most comfortably with what we know of Christina's life, and of her relationship with abbot Geoffrey, from her biography. I suspect that if I were to present any you with Christina's biography, and ask you to use this as the sole basis on which to suggest likely dates when abbot Geoffrey might have given her the Psalter, you would very likely come up with the following conclusions. Some of the relevant dates and events are on the handout.

First, it is obvious that the making of the Psalter would have to post-date their meeting, which cannot have been before 1123.

Second, that it is unlikely to have occurred within a short period of their first meeting, because the biography tells us that it took Geoffrey some time to form his high opinion of Christina.

Third, the occasion of Christina's monastic profession, formalising for the first time her relationship with St. Albans, would be a likely date for such a gift; and although this event is not reliably dated, the biography relates it immediately after an event that is datable to between 1125 and 1133.

Fourth, we know of a couple of reliably datable events when Geoffrey had particular reason to be grateful to Christina: there were at least three occasions when he believed his life to have been saved by her prayers, all listed on the handout.

Fifth, as I have said, most people are persuaded by the theory that the Emmaus scenes were included in the manuscript because of the close correspondence between the Emmaus events as recorded in the gospel narrative, and events in Christina's own life, involving the triple appearance, as well as the miraculous disappearance, of a mysterious pilgrim. As has been pointed out elsewhere, the implication of the biography is that Christina's encounters with this pilgrim occurred later than events which are datable to c.1140-1, which suggests that the Emmaus scenes in the manuscript would not have been produced any earlier than that date. The Emmaus scenes, you may remember, form part of the quire with the Alexis story, written by the scribe responsible for the obit of Roger the Hermit, and most of the captions to the initials.

So far, all these considerations have been pushing the likely date of the Psalter later and later.

Sixth, the foundation of Markyate priory, known from reliable sources to have taken place in 1145, might seem like a particularly appropriate moment for Geoffrey to have presented Christina and her community of nuns with a spectacular Psalter; but since the date of the foundation of the nunnery had been added to the calendar of the Psalter, rather than being included in it from the start, I suggest that the Psalter is not likely to have been produced at the time of the foundation.

Finally, if the Psalter was indeed made at Geoffrey's expense for Christina, it must presumably pre-date his death in 1146.

Thus, the external evidence provided by Christina's biography would lead one to expect Geoffrey to have made the Psalter for her probably some time in the late 1130's or early 1140's. And to repeat what I have already said: the conclusions of Professor Thomson's work, the most detailed study of St. Albans script to date, makes it hard to date the work of the 'new' scribe much earlier than about 1140.

[If time permits, say a few words about the Litany Trinity image]

Time doesn't permit me to extend this account of my observations and speculations into the territory of any of the other many questions which I have not addressed today, so I will simply finish by stating what I hope to have covered thus far.

The presence of the previously unnoticed scribe in the Psalms section of the manuscript provides us at last with a firm link to the script of St. Albans in the original planning and manufacture of the book. The way in which this scribe contributed a single bifolium to the book allows us to say that his involvement was on account of some sort of change of plan -- namely to provide an even more lavish opening to the text -- and yet he was clearly working at the same time as the artists of the initials, since their work appears on the same pages as his. The fact that the handwriting of this scribe is most comfortably dated to around 1140 also helps us to make sense of the pasted-in initial depicting Christina: this had always been though of as a later addition to the book, but my proposed later dating of the main work on the Psalter now makes it possible - if not likely - that the initial is also about contemporary with the rest of the book.

To conclude, then: I don't for a moment pretend that the ideas I have presented today are infallible, and I am aware that I have frequently crossed a boundary into unverifiable speculation; but I have done this deliberately in the hope of provoking debate and disagreement, since I do think that the discovery of the presence of the new scribe opens up a small can of worms, which potentially affects our understanding of a number of the most important of all twelfth-century illuminated manuscripts, and which should encourage us to challenge many of the currently held assumptions about the making of the Psalter of Christina of Markyate.

Thank you.