The Lindisfarne Gospels was created in north-east England on the Island of Lindisfarne around 698AD. Unusually, it is the work of one man, Eadfrith, Bishop of Lindisfarne. This information was recorded in the back of the book by the monk Aldred in about 883AD; he also added the inter-linear gloss which is the earliest surviving translation of the Gospels into any form of the English language.
The Latin text of the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John is the Vulgate version of St Jerome which was written in the 4th century. An image of each of the four Apostles precedes their Gospels. These are depicted in quite a different style from their depiction in The Book of Kells: they sit plainly on the page with their symbolic beast; their clothing is picked out in contrasting colours and face and hair are reduced to a strong linear pattern.
The script is an insular majuscule; this is written with great regularity indicative of self-disciplined restraint and mastery of the craft. Individual flourishes and distinctive letters testify to it being the work of a single man as was confirmed by Aldred two centuries later. Each of the elaborate cross-carpet pages which precede the opening page of the Gospels contain a cross embedded within intricate and repeated interlaced design.
The opening page of each Gospel contains the first few letters of the opening word and appear as an intricate textile-like panel containing people and beasts and knot design interwoven. The page opening for the Gospel of St Luke is striking for its use of red lead in the form of 10,600 dots. It has been calculated that this alone would have taken some six hours of work. This page is also striking in that it is the only one of two which use gold paint. The other is the 'Chi Rho' page beginning St Matthew. With these two exceptions the pigments used are very much the same as those used in The Book of Kells.
The Lindisfarne Gospels is written in two columns to the page, and the text pages lack the high level of ornamentation of The Book of Kells, but this is countered by the beauty and evenness of the script.
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