The Book of Durrow is an early medieval Gospel book decorated with carpet pages and framed symbols of the Evangelists. Housed in the Library of Trinity College Dublin, it is regarded as second only to the Book of Kells. The opening words of the four Gospels are given great prominence, and popular interest has focused on the high artistic quality of these pages and their relatioship to the art of the Book of Kells. Written by monks in Early Christian Ireland it is the earliest surviving fully decorated insular Gospel book, yet it was executed with such a degree of sophistication that it cannot have been the first. Its date is uncertain and controversial, though recent research indicates that it was probably produced early in the eighth century. While it derives its name from the Irish Columban monastery of Durrow, County Offaly, differing claims have been made that it was produced in Iona or in Northumbria. Parallels to features of the Book of Durrow can be found not only throughout the insular world but in Byzantine, Syriac, West African and Sassanian art. This is the first accessible work on the subject. Keeper of Manuscripts Bernard Meehan takes us on a guided tour of the masterpiece. With the help of some forty colour reproductions taken specifically for this book, he uncovers some of the mysteries that lie within its pages, and compares the art and history of the Book of Durrow with that of other rare volumes and artefacts.
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