Current research on the Pontifical

Current Research on the Pontifical

Liturgy and Music

Continuing exploration of the liturgical and musical content of the manuscript and its Welsh, British and international contexts is central to the research of Sally Harper, one of the Project’s directors. Her extended article on the Pontifical may be downloaded below. (Inventories of the manuscript’s contents may also be downloaded here.)

Sally Harper, ‘The Bangor Pontifical: a Pontifical of the Use of Salisbury’, Welsh Music History, 2 (1997), 65–89. Click here to download the article.

Sally Harper, Music in Welsh Culture before 1650: A Study of the Principal Sources (Aldershot, 2007), 231–248.

An analysis of the episcopal ceremony for dedicating a church also mentions the Bangor Pontifical: see Thomas Kozachek, ‘The repertory of chant for dedicating churches in the Middle Ages: music, liturgy and ritual’ (PhD dissertation, Harvard University, 1995).

For more general references to Medieval Liturgy and to Pontificals, see the useful resources listed below:

Medieval Liturgy Bibliography

Pontificalia: A Repertory of Latin Manuscript Pontificals and Benedictionals compiled by Richard Kay

Art History

The Pontifical’s full-page miniature and border decoration reveal important connections with other manuscripts of similar date associated with the so-called ‘Queen Mary Psalter School’ and the ‘East Anglian School’ of manuscript illumination. Some of the most important studies on these two schools are listed below.

Lucy F. Sandler, Gothic Manuscripts 1285–1385 (A Survey of Manuscripts Illuminated in the British Isles, I) (London, 1986).

Lynda Dennison, ‘Liber Horn, Liber Custumarum and Other Manuscripts of the Queen Mary Psalter Workshops’, in L. Grant (ed.), Medieval Art, Architecture and Archaeology in London (British Archaeological Conference Transactions for the year 1984), 118–31.

Lynda Dennison, ‘The Technical Mastery of the Macclesfield Psalter: a Stylistic Appraisal of the Illuminators and their Suggested Origin’, Transactions of the Cambridge Bibliographical Society, XIII, pt. 3 (2009), 253-288.

R. Marks and N. Morgan, The Golden Age of English Manuscript Painting 1200-1500, New York, 1981 (repr. 1996).

A.D. Stanton, The Queen Mary Psalter: A Study in Affect and Audience (Philadelphia, 2001)

G. Warner, Queen Mary´s Psalter (London, 1912)

Michael A. Michael, ‘The Harnhulle Psalter-Hours: An Early Fourteenth-Century English Illuminated Manuscript at Downside Abbey’, Journal of the British Archaeological Association, 134 (1981), 81–99.

Norton, C., Park, D., and Binski, P., Dominican Painting in East Anglia: The Thornton Parva Retable and the Musee de Cluny Frontal, Woodbridge 1987


Other Liturgical Manuscripts associated with Wales

There are very few extant liturgical sources from medieval Wales, and only two have substantial musical notation. One is the Bangor Pontifical; the other National Library of Wales MS 20541 E, the ‘Penpont Antiphoner’, which includes a unique Office of St David. (A full list of liturgical manuscripts with Welsh associations is given in Sally Harper’s Music in Welsh Culture before 1650, 371–87.)

Key studies and resources are listed below.

National Library of Wales MS 20541E: The Penpont Antiphonal, ed. O. T. Edwards, Institute of Medieval Music Facsimile rhif 22 (Ottawa, 1997).

Owain Tudor Edwards, Matins, Lauds and Vespers for St David’s Day: The Medieval Office of the Welsh Patron Saint in National Library of Wales MS 20541 E (Woodbridge, 1990).

Daniel Huws, ‘St David in the Liturgy: A Review of Sources’, in St David of Wales: Cult, Church and Nation, ed. J. W. Evans a J. M. Wooding (Woodbridge, 2007).

The Welsh associations of the Pontifical itself are also explored in the following study, albeit slightly dated:

T. Morris, ‘The Liber Pontificalis Aniani of Bangor’, Trafodion Cymdeithas Hynafiaethwyr a Naturiaethwyr Môn (1962), 55–78.

On Digitizing Medieval Manuscripts

An overview of digitization may be found in a collection of recent essays based on the 2009 conference of The Institute of Documentology and Scholarly Editing (IDE), a network of researchers working on the application of digital methods on historical documents). See

The online journal of 'Digital Medievalist', an international web-based Community of Practice for medievalists working with digital media established in 2003, also contains many useful articles. See

For the research and imaging standards of the Digital Image Archive of Medieval Music (DIAMM), see

For the ground-breaking work DIAMM has done in digitizing manuscript sources for medieval music, and some of the problems encountered, see the article by DIAMM Co-Director and Project Manager, Julia Craig-McFeely, in the 2008 edition of Digital Medievalist: 'Digital Image Archive of Medieval Music: The evolution of a digital resource'.