search
Archaeology Magazine

A publication of the Archaeological Institute of America

archaeology
subscribe
Special Introductory Offer!

New Thoughts on Ireland’s Book of Kells

Friday, February 9, 2018

Ireland Book of KellsDUBLIN, IRELAND—According to a report in The Independent, Bernard Meehan of Trinity College, Dublin, has examined the Book of Kells, a 1,200-year-old illustrated copy of the four Christian Gospels, and offered new thoughts on its production. He thinks work on the four sections may not have begun at the same time, in Scotland, as had been previously thought. He says the handwriting of St. John’s Gospel, which was copied on the Scottish island of Iona, indicates it was made by a traditional scribe educated during the mid-eighth century. The book, traditionally the last of the four Christian Gospels, may have been intended to stand alone, since it was especially revered by medieval Celtic Christians. The same scribe’s handwriting has also been detected in the opening pages of St. Mark’s Gospel, however, suggesting that he may have died before completing that project. Meehan suggests a series of Viking attacks on the Scottish monastery, and possibly an epidemic, delayed production of the rest of the volume by about 50 years. Then, he believes, the remaining pages of St. Mark’s Gospel, and the entire texts of St. Luke’s Gospel and St. Matthew’s Gospel, were produced in Ireland, after the monks had moved to the safer, inland site at Kells. For more, go to “The Vikings in Ireland.”

Advertisement

Advertisement


Advertisement