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Book of Hours Number 3


Book of Hours, Use of Sarum, in Latin

C. 1400, SPAIN or ITALY

Dunfermline Reid 3

Paper and parchment. i-iii (paper of c. 1800) + 183 (parchment of c. 1400) + iii-vi (paper of c. 1800)


Ruling in light brown ink and 12 lines of text per page throughout. The scribe does not write above or below the ruling lines except for catchwords, which are written in the bottom center of the page.


The pages are in quires, as can be seen from the binding.


Italian Gothic Rotunda. The script is very slanted on f.50v. Gold lettering begins on f.56r.

Punctuation: colon for significant stops, overline for abbreviated words.   


Catchwords are written at the bottom of the last page of each folio. They begin on f.8v and continue every eight pages until f.63v Qui, which should be on f.64v. They then continue on every eight pages from here. F.95v (et) is not matched on the following page. The catchwords are misplaced again when one appears on f.107v (et). There should be a catchword on f.103v and f.111v. The catchwords continue on every eight pages from here.

The pages have been cropped enough to cut off the end of some longer flourishes, presumably upon rebinding.

Due to its small size the book appears to have been made for individual use, though still possibly at communal prayers.


Rebound in about the early 20th c. Brown leather binding front and back are both without decoration. Spine, though a bit disintegrated, bears some gold tooling of floral patterns and ‘OFFICIUM / B. M. V. [?] IEG / MANUSCRIPT’. Pattern of the pastedown on the inside of front and back covers is red, green, and white. Later, Reid pasted a white square on top with black crest bearing the letters GR, presumably for George Reid. The pages are fore-edged in gold.


Compiled about 1400, likely in Italy or Spain based on the style of the initials and their flourishes. Bought by Reid, and possibly passed through the library of someone called ‘Merr’.


*1. Inside cover bears Reid’s crest, and a 20th c. hand has written ‘Merr’s hist. No 3’ in red ink and scratched out the second ‘r’ in blue ink.

*2. ff.ir-iiiv. Blank paper fly leaves added with the later binding.  

3. ff.1r–93r. Hours of the Virgin

4. ff.93v–99v. Hours of the Cross. The quires are mis-bound and part of the Hours of the Cross are missing.

5. ff.100r-116v. Penitential Psalms. Leaf 100 is bound backwards, i.e. the recto should be the verso.

6. ff.116v-129v. Litany  

7. ff.130r-180v. Office for the Dead. F.130r – Psalm 114 beginning at verse 7. About a page is missing: the beginning of Vespers, which begins the Office of the Dead, is missing. It probably had an illuminated initial and was taken out because of that.

8. ff.181r-183v. Three blank but ruled medieval pages.

9. f.183v. 18th c hand at the top but it is illegible.

10. A stub of a page of medieval parchment. It appears to have been cut.

*11. ff.iiir–viv. Three blank paper pages c.1800.



F.1 has cherubs in silver ink.


Initials alternate red (with light grey flourishes) and blue (with red flourishes). Some initials at the beginning of prayers have particularly long flourishes in the border.

F.52r contains an illuminated ‘D’ in Deus, as does f.60v. The latter includes gold circles and red and blue flowers.


There is a face drawn before the ‘P[salmu]s’ rubric on f.60v, line 9. F.141v has a face drawn in-between the words in line 1.


The catchwords also have unique flourishes; f.71v has red flourishes, and f.95v is entirely in red.


F.27r has the Greek letter alpha in the right-hand margin, probably from a later reader marking that place in the book for themselves.

This is not a beginner’s book of hours, as, instead of being copied out in full, some psalms are only given their first verse or two; the rest of the psalm would have been memorized. 

The litany skips Disciples and Innocents, John and Paul, doctors, monks, and hermits, but adds Barbara, Clara, Margaritha, Helisabeth, Hursula cum sociis tuis. Since most of the saints that are skipped are men and most of the ones added are women, especially virgin martyrs, it could be speculated that this book was created for a woman.

Thanks to volunteer Abigail Johnston from the University of St Andrews who taught herself rare book cataloguing and found out so much more about George Reid’s manuscript Books of Hours