A true treasure of medieval art, the Book of Kells is one of the most fabulous testimonials to the calligraphic art and illumination of the 9th century. Also known as the Great Evangelist of Saint Colomba, the manuscript would indeed tell the story of the 4 Gospels of the New Testament, through numerous ornamentations and finely calligraphic text. Exhibited at Trinity College (the University of Dublin), thousands of visitors flock to the school every year to discover it!
The Book of Kells is said to have been made by monks around the year 800, in the monastery of Iona, on an island off the coast of Scotland (on the west coast). Following the violence of the Viking invasions, the monks fled the island to Ireland, in County Meath, to protect the Book of Kells in the monastery of Kells (hence its name).
This book remained in this monastery until 1654, when the manuscript was sent to Dublin to protect it from Cromwell’s garrison. It was presented in 1661 to Trinity College, which then asked permission to keep it. Since that time, the Book of Kells has remained at the University of Dublin, and is preciously kept in the old Library. After many restorations of the book (mainly at the binding level), the Dublin University decided to organize a permanent exhibition of the manuscript in the 1800s.
The main courtyard of Trinity College gives you access to the Old Library, as well as a fine exhibition of the art of book illumination. You will be able to learn about the principles of medieval arts and discover some original pages from the Book of Kells in a separate room…
You will be able to testify to the finesse and quality of each letter, text and illumination present on each page. Each story has a lettering ornamented with colorful interlacing and gold leaf, as well as a beautifully calligraphic text.