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Cats in the Book of Kells

‘Authors like cats because they are such quiet, lovable, wise creatures, and cats like authors for the same reasons.’ (Robertson Davies) The lively antics of cats, prowling, hunting and quietly …

Fish in the Book of Kells

Dotted throughout the pages of the Book of Kells are relatively numerous images of fish. The fish has been used as a Christian symbol as far back as the second …

Intertwined men and animals

The pages of the Book of Kells are filled with the tangled, contorted bodies of literally thousands of men, lions, birds and snakes. Used to form the initial letters of …

Eucharistic imagery

There are two key sacraments central to Christianity – Baptism and the Eucharist. Sacraments are understood as key moments where a person enters into closer union with God. They are …

Symbols of Christ

In the early centuries of Christianity, artists faced a number of challenges in the visual depiction of Christian ideas. The majority of early Christians were not members of the wealthy …

The Evangelists

‘This book contains the concordance of the Four Gospels according to St Jerome… Here you can look upon the face of divine majesty drawn in a miraculous way; here too …

Medieval gospel books: Databank

There are a number of gospel books surviving from roughly around the time of the Book of Kells. The links below are digital reproductions of books made for the Insular …

Decorating medieval gospel books

The four gospels of the New Testament were a fundamental tool of the Christian Church. As we have seen throughout the course, gospel books, such as the Book of Kells, …

Art and meaning in the Book of Kells

Everybody looks at and understands images slightly differently. The images in the Book of Kells are no different. Your first impression when you see one of the more densely painted …

Next week: Modern meanings

Well done for reaching the end of Week 3 of our course. We hope you have enjoyed the videos and articles about the meanings behind illustrations in the Book of …

Flaws and imperfections

One would expect such an important, high-class object as the Book of Kells to be made of the best materials and to have been flawless in both text and illustration, …

Calligraphy in the Book of Kells

The neat hand used to transcribe the bible text into the Book of Kells is a beautiful example of the skill of the medieval scribe. We look at some of …

The script in the Book of Kells

One of the most distinctive features of the Book of Kells is its neat script, a form instantly recognisable as being of distinctively Irish or Insular in style. A library …

Pigments in the Book of Kells

The vibrancy, beauty, application and combinations of colour in the Book of Kells has fascinated viewers through the centuries. Determining what materials were used requires analytical work. We can only …

Working practice

The preparation of the parchment for script and painting was a complex and carefully thought through process. First the quires were prepared and loosely held together with a temporary stitch …
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