Wednesday, April 2, 2014

#AtoZ Challenge: B is for Book of Kells: #Irish Ancient Treasure

B is for Book of Kells

Today's A to Z Blog Challenge takes us to Medieval Ireland. Today ebooks and books are available everywhere and are highly available to readers throughout the world. The invention of Gutenberg's printing press in 1439 revolutionized the literary world. Today it's expected for everyone, no matter what their status is in life, to be able to read. Books and the ability to read and write were very rare during the Medieval Age.

I have always been fascinated by the Book of Kells. It has been considered the unofficial national treasure of Ireland for years. This ancient book has been described to represent the impact of Christianity on Ireland, the power of learning and the spirit of artistic imagination. It was created sometimes between the end of the 7th and 8th centuries by two scribes on 340 vellum leaves in Insular script. Insular script was a style of writing the originated in Ireland during the 7th century then spread to England and from there Europe. It is distinguished by a large initial letter surrounded by red dots. The letters that surround the initial letter at the start of a new paragraph generally diminish in size as the text travel across the page.  The letters p, d, q, b are written with very large bows while the letters with ascenders (b, d, h, l, etc.) are written with triangle or wedge shaped tops. Here's a page from the Book of Kells that shows some of the stylization I was describing. 

The Book of Kells contains the four Christian gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John; The Book of Columbia (aka: the Eusebian canons), and a fragment of Hebrew names handwritten in black, red, purple, and yellow ink. The book is missing part of the John's Gospel and some preliminary matter that was supposedly removed when the book was stolen in the 11th century. The Gospel of John stops at John 17:13 and preliminary matter that remains includes two fragments of Hebrew names, a gospel summary, short biographies of the Evangelists, and the Book of Columbia. You can view the actual book on Trinity College Dublin's digital collections page


  1. Thanks for the info on the Book of Kells. I have always loved its name and the artwork within. I hope someday to actually go to Ireland! And, Go girl at NaNoWriMo Camp!! I completed November 2013 for the first time and was SO energized after!!!

    1. You're welcome. I want to go to Ireland someday as well. It's NaNoWriMo the best?