5. Lindisfarne Gospels. Written in Latin around 698, in the monastery of Lindisfarne, situated on Holy Island, close to the coast of Northumberland, this is one of the greatest masterpieces of miniature. It is probably connected with the translation of St. Cuthbert d. 687, which took place 20 March 697. The Latin text of the gospels is that of the Vulgate of St. Jerome: the exemplar almost certainly was a book of the gospels brought to the monastery of Monkwearmouth-Jarrow from southern Italy. United States Map The texts of the Lindisfarne Gospels, the Codex Amiatinus and the Gospel of John of Stonyhurst form together one of the most important sources for the ancient form of the text of the Vulgate. The decoration consists of a series of illuminated pages and of other less decorated capitals. There are no manuscripts of the 7th-8th c. of certain Irish extraction which can equal the exceptional virtuosity of the great manuscripts of Northumbria, among which the Lindisfarne Gospels are the best documented and also the most complete.
6. The Book of Kells. This is the richest in decoration of all the insular books, and the initial pages reach the highest point of a development which began with the humble initials of the Cathach of St. Columba. Beyond the intrinsic quality and the amplitude of the ornamentation, the Book of Kells distinguishes itself from the other insular evangeliariums by the use of an organic decorative plan, by the miniatures inserted in the text and by the use of the so-called Beast Canon Tables: characteristics which could indicate just as much a totally new model or more models used by the artists of Kells, as an intermediate development as yet unknown in the insular miniature between the beginning and the middle of the 8th c. As for the date, it should probably be placed between the St. Petersburg Bede of 746 and the Evangeliarium Mac Regol of 822; but Northumbria, Pictland and Iona, just like Ireland, have been suggested recently as possible places of production. It is certain, however, that the manuscript was at Kells at the beginning of the 9th c.: it was probably written at Iona and transferred to Kells when Iona was sacked by Vikings in 806. III. Sculpture and carving.
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