Skip main navigation

Making the Book of Kells

This article provides an overview to the making of the Book of Kells.

Today, in the era of digital technologies, we tend to take the transmission of knowledge for granted. Texts and images can be created with ease and shared over the web reaching millions of people in a matter of moments, or printed in multiple copies at the press of a single button. In the early medieval period, however, it was very different.

If a church or an individual wished to get a copy of a book, it had to be copied, by hand, from another book. Highly trained individuals were required to carry out the work.

Colours and inks needed to be gathered and mixed. Vellum or parchment needed to be prepared. Recent scientific analysis of the Book of Kells is helping us to understand in greater depth the efforts that were made to realise this ambitious manuscript.

Coming up this week

This week we will be meeting colleagues from the conservation department at the Library of Trinity College who will be exploring the pigments, calligraphy and binding used in the Book. You will get a chance to try out some of the most well-known illustrations and calligraphy of the Book, and learn about the scribes who illustrated the Book.

Don’t forget to consult the glossary which explains some of the key terms used in the course.

This article is from the free online

The Book of Kells: Exploring an Irish Medieval Masterpiece

Created by
FutureLearn - Learning For Life

Reach your personal and professional goals

Unlock access to hundreds of expert online courses and degrees from top universities and educators to gain accredited qualifications and professional CV-building certificates.

Join over 18 million learners to launch, switch or build upon your career, all at your own pace, across a wide range of topic areas.

Start Learning now