The Eadwine Psalter (Cambridge, Trinity College MS R.17.1) is arguably the most ambitious manuscript produced in England in the twelfth century. Over a dozen scribes and artists combined to produce a book which contains five different version of the text of the Psalms, three in Latin, one in Old English, and one in Anglo-Norman, with a prologue, a commentary, and a concluding prayer to each Psalm. In addition, the most complex set of Psalter illustrations available, those from the ninth-century Utrecht Psalter, was adapted for the project; the largest known cycle of prefatory biblical pictorial narratives of the period was devised and happened as a pictorial preface; and every Psalm, prayer, and Canticle was given a set of fully illuminated major initials as well as gold and silver minor initials throughout. Several other noteworthy images feature in the book: a portrait of the 'Prince of Scribes', Eadwine himself, the depiction of a comet, and the two plans of the precinct waterworks of Canterbury Cathedral Priory installed c. 1160.
In the past the various aspects of this complex compilation have been treated individually (or in some cases not at all). It is the aim of the present volume of studies to counteract the tendency of modern scholarship to fragment its subjects by bringing under scrutiny between two covers all the major components of the Eadwine Psalter. To this end, thirteen distinguished specialists representing all the fields of inquiry have collaborated over a number of years and have consulted each other, comparing notes and opinions. The result is a volume of communal endeavor which locates the manuscript within a particular milieu, at once monastic and proud, aware of contemporary scholarship but inherently conservative.