The Book of Kells

This is a handwritten ~ bound ~ copy of the Four Gospels ~ famed for the numerous designs adjacent to and incorporated with the script ~ known as illuminations. The pictures below show one of the first pages, and a sample of the text. The main opportunity for illuminating is the first letter of a passage of text. Each of the beatitudes lower picture ~ starts with an illuminated capital letter. An additional decorative bar has been added to the left hand margin.

The book of Kells
The Book of Kells ~ Folio 32 v ~ Christ Enthroned

The book of Kells
The Book of Kells ~ The Beatitudes

The book of Kells
The Book of Kells ~ The Chi Rho Page ~
Compare this with the ChiRho page of the Lindisfarne Gospels [112042]

The 'Book' is held in the custody of Trinity College, Dublin University, in Ireland. It has been trimmed and re-bound several times since it was first written in around 800. It is now bound into four volumes, and a permanent exhibition in the University normally has two pages open for public viewing (behind security measures). It had a million visitors in 2019.

There are currently 340 folios, each of size 255x330m. It is believed that some 30 other folios were orignally prepared ~ subsequently lost. It is believed to have originated in Iona ~ off the coast of Scotland ~ from where the Columban monks fled to Kells ~ in County Meath ~ Ireland ~ to avoid further attacks from marauding Vikings.

There is a wealth of information and publication available on the book of Kells, which I have not seen. These notes are aimed to be an introduction for those interested in pursuing their interest further ~ symbolism ~ early religion ~ calligraphy ~ history ~ pigment ~ page layout and design ~ binding ~ conservation ~ display ~ Celtic imagery and knotwork ~ iconography .The illustrations are taken from the many available on the WWW, and I hope that they are available in the public domain, sufficient for me to use them without specific acknowledgement here.

For those interested in other precious books I have notes ~

~ St Cuthbert's 'Gospel' [117143]

~ The Great Omar [115032]

~ The Lindisfarne Gospels [112042] ~ these are of a similar date to the Book of Kells, but with differences of style.

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