Lindisfarne Gospels

Lindisfarne Gospels

The Lindisfarne Gospels is an illuminated Latin manuscript of the gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. The manuscript was produced on Lindisfarne in Northumbria in the late 7th century or early 8th century, and is generally regarded as the finest example of the kingdom's unique style of religious art, a style that combined Anglo-Saxon and Celtic themes, what is now called Hiberno-Saxon art, or Insular art. [ [ Celtic and Anglo-Saxon Art: Geometric Aspects] Derek Hull, Published 2003Liverpool University Press. ISBN 085323549X (Google books link) ] The manuscript is complete (though lacking its original cover), and is astonishingly well-preserved considering its great age.


The Lindisfarne Gospels are presumed to be the work of the monk named Eadfrith, who became Bishop of Lindisfarne in 698 and died in 721. [ [ Lindisfarne Gospels] British Library. Retrieved 2008-03-21] Current scholarship indicates a date around 715, and it is believed they were produced in honour of St. Cuthbert. The Gospels are richly illustrated in the insular style, and were originally encased in a fine leather binding covered with jewels and metals made by Billfrith the Anchorite in the 8th century. During the Viking raids on Lindisfarne, however, this cover was lost, and a replacement made in 1852. [ Let Gospels come home] Sunderland Echo, 2006-09-22. Retrieved 2008-03-21] The text is written in insular script.

In the 10th century an Old English translation of the Gospels was made: a word-for-word gloss inserted between the lines of the Latin text by Aldred, Provost of Chester-le-Street. This is the first translation of the Gospels into the English language.

The Gospels were taken from Durham Cathedral during the dissolution of the monasteries, ordered by Henry VIII, and were acquired in the early 17th century by Sir Robert Cotton from Thomas Walker, Clerk of the Parliaments. Cotton's library came to the British Museum in the 18th century, and from there to the British Library in London. [ [ Time line] British Library. Retrieved 2008-03-21]

Current Controversy

A campaign exists to have the gospels housed in the North East of England, a move vigorously opposed by the British Library. [ [ Viz creator urges gospels return] BBC News Online, 2008-03-20. Retrieved 2008-03-21] Several possible locations have been mooted, including Durham Cathedral, Lindisfarne itself or one of the museums in Newcastle upon Tyne or Sunderland. A modern facsimile copy of the Gospels is now housed in the Durham Cathedral Treasury, which can be seen by visitors.

ee also

*Illuminated manuscript
*List of Hiberno-Saxon illustrated manuscripts
*Old English Bible translations


*Calkins, Robert G. "Illuminated Books of the Middle Ages". Ithaca, New York: Cornell University Press, 1983.
*De Hamel, Christopher. "A History of Illuminated Manuscripts". Boston: David R. Godine, 1986.
*Walther, Ingo F. and Norbert Wolf. "Codices Illustres: The world's most famous illuminated manuscripts, 400 to 1600". Köln, TASCHEN, 2005.

Further reading

*Brown, Michelle P., "The Lindisfarne Gospels: Society, Spirituality and the Scribe". London: The British Library, 2003

External links

* [ Turning the Pages] Leaf through the Lindisfarne Gospels online using the British Library's Turning the Pages software (requires Shockwave plugin)
* [ The Lindisfarne Gospels] , a free online seminar from the British Library.
* [ Lindisfarne Gospels: information, zoomable image] British Library website
* [ British Library Digital Catalogue of Illuminated Manuscripts entry]
* [ Lindisfarne Gospels] , from the Northumbrian Association.

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