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Housing the Fadden More Psalter

Read about the fabrication of conservation housing for the Fadden More Psalter

The Faddan More Psalter, unearthed in 2006 from a bog in North Tipperary and now part of the Treasury display in Kildare Street, underwent a lengthy and complicated conservation process in our department over a four year period.

One of the many challenging aspects of the work was devising a method to store the fragile vellum folia fragments. It was clear from the outset that the Psalter would not be returned to a codex format, such was the level of deterioration. Once the surviving fragments had been de-watered, identified and stabilised, each folio or bifolio fragment was placed inside an inert ceramic faced film with the addition of a profiled lignin free card which ‘filled in’ the areas of loss. The package was then placed under vacuum, effectively sealing it from the atmosphere.

On completion of this operation, each fragment was stored in purpose made portfolios, each of which were tabbed to identify the folio number and quire. This collection of folders have remained in safe storage since completion in 2011. The opportunity recently presented itself to produce a custom housing for the thirty-plus folders. This was always part of the project and the design and function was decided upon by the conservation department during the treatment stage; Based on a document type box, the housing would allow safe transport of the Psalter, if required and its vertical format would both reduce ‘stacking pressure’ and ease consultation of the folio fragments.

The housing is constructed from a laminate of stable conservation standard boards, resulting in walls 7mm in thickness. All joins were reinforced with additional material. The separate lid was given substantial sides, so when removed there is unrestricted access to the contents. An internal support wall insures the lid is fixed firmly in position when in place. The structure was covered in acrylic coated cotton Buckram® and a vellum edging. A leather tooled label identifies the contents in a recessed panel on the lid.

The Faddan More Psalter is now safe and sound in its new environs and there is one less housing crisis in Dublin!

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