The Book of Kells, which is on display in Trinity College, was written around the year 800 AD and is one of the most beautifully illustrated manuscripts in the world.
Trinity College, Dublin
The Book of Kells, which is on display in Trinity College, was written around the year 800 AD and is one of the most beautifully illustrated manuscripts in the world. It is also one of the oldest books in the world. It contains the four gospels, preceded by prefaces, summaries and canon tables or concordances of gospel passages.
It is written on vellum and contains a Latin text of the Gospels in insular majuscule script accompanied by magnificent and intricate whole pages of decoration with smaller painted decorations appearing throughout the text. It was probably produced by the monks at St. Columcille's Monastery, on the remote island of Iona, off the west coast of Scotland. With repeated raids from the Vikings, the monks fled Iona for the safety of Kells in 806 AD, taking their masterpiece with them.
The manuscript was given to Trinity College in the seventeenth century and since 1953 has been bound in four calfskin volumes. It has been on display in the Old Library there since the nineteenth century. Two volumes can normally be seen, one opened to display a major decorated page, and one to show two pages of script.
The Library of Trinity College is the largest research library in Ireland. In addition to the purchases and donations of almost four centuries, the Library is privileged in having the right to legal deposit of British and Irish publications. The Library contains a stock of almost four million volumes, twenty thousand current serials, significant holdings of maps and music and an extensive collection of manuscripts, the most famous being The Book of Kells. The 807 Book of Armagh and the 675 Book of Durrow are also on display in the Library. The Library is open Monday to Saturday all year round and has a Sunday schedule in the peak season.
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