Tuesday, February 25, 2014

The Book of Durrow

The Book of Durrow is a 7th-century illuminated Gospel Manuscript in the Insular art  style produced in the post Roman British Isles. It was probably created between 650 and 700. The place of creation  may have been Durrow Abbey in Ireland or a monastery in Northumbria in northern England where the monasteries at Lindsfarne or perhaps the Iona Abbey in western Scotland. The place of origin has been debated by historians for decades without a consensus. The Book of Durrow was certainly at Durrow Abbey by year 916. Today it is housed at the library at Trinity College, Dublin (MS A. 4. 5. (57)).

 It is the oldest extant complete illuminated Insular gospel book,  predating the Book of Kells by over a century. The text includes the four new testament Gospels of Matthew Mark Luke and John plus several pieces of prefatory matter and canon tables.. It contains a large illumination programme including six extant carpet pages, Introductory leafs with geometric shapes, a full page miniature of the four evangelist, four full page miniatures, each containing a single evangelist symbol, and six pages with significant decorated initials and text. It is written in majuscale  insular script,  the block capitals of the day.

 graphic: a page from the book of Durrow

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