The Book Stops Here



Nassau Street, Dublin yesterday

A displeased monk calls for the ‘return’ of the Book of Kells to Meath.

Via Wikipedia:

There are at least five competing theories about the manuscript’s place of origin and time of completion. First, the book, or perhaps just the text, may have been created at Iona, then brought to Kells, where the illuminations were perhaps added, and never finished.
Second, the book may have been produced entirely at Iona. Third, the manuscript may have been produced entirely in the scriptorium at Kells. Fourth, it may have been produced in the north of England, perhaps at Lindisfarne, then brought to Iona and from there to Kells. Finally, it may have been the product of an unknown monastery in Pictish Scotland


Thanks Daniel

22 thoughts on “The Book Stops Here

  1. Ray

    Why not? It would be good to spread tourism around the country.

    Prime example : those Spanish cannons and other finds off Sligo should be kept in Sligo. At least for a few years.

    1. Martin Heavy-Guy

      I’m (very proudly) from Sligo but unfortunately I don’t agree.

      Sligo doesn’t have the infrastructure to maintain the canons – they will degrade quickly when taken out of the saltwater environment and need to be very carefully stored and conserved. This involves a lot of high-end chemistry and care by trained professionals. This in turn will take time and expertise that is available in the Dublin museums and universities, but not in Sligo (the IT Sligo Archaeology Department does not have a conservation section and has no PhD research in that area that I am aware of).

      Having said that, Sligo should be bolstered by the find. A local history museum with trained professionals that could include finds at Carrowkeel, Carrowmore and Kesh, for example, would be brilliant.

      But again, I’m not sure if the Book of Kells should be returned to Kells, or Iona, or anywhere else, not least because Trinity College has invested so much time and money into conserving and maintaining the book (and others, such as the Book of Durrow) but because it is a central location where people can see the book. If moved to Iona the book will be practically inaccessible to so many people that can cheaply and easily fly into Dublin.

      But I do sympathise with anyone who wants the move. I just can’t agree with it in a practical capacity.

    2. ahjayzis

      That’s like spreading the rides at Disneyworld proportionately around Florida – no one would bother and you’ve completely diluted your attraction.

      It’s not like the money stays in Dublin, it’s not a ‘rival county’, it’s the capital city.

  2. Chilis1

    Lindisfarne? Isn’t that where Aethelstan in Vikings is from? He wrote it obviously, mystery solved.

  3. Spaghetti Hoop

    Leave it where it is. In our capital city, safe and secure, and viewed by thousands of tourists each year.

    1. ahjayzis

      An awful lot of the country don’t seem to see Dublin as their capital though. It’s always seen as like a rival parish at best or a thieving connurbation of snooty elites looking down their nose at the cabbage-stinking rurdles – when really the city pays their way.

  4. Fardays

    Only two of those ‘reasons’ are footnoted in the Wikipedia page (actually Richard Sharpe, who is referenced for the Pictish theory, states in that article ‘there is no evidence that the Book of Kells actually was made in Pictland’). In recent years there are very (very!) few serious scholars who would state that the Book of Kells was completed anywhere but Iona.
    The recent exhibition of the Lindisfarne Gospels in Durham is perhaps a sign something similar would be a success in Ireland, but moving them permanently would be pointless.

      1. Fardays

        That’s what I tell my students, but it still doesn’t stop them….in fact I might use this post to illustrate that fact in the future.

        1. St. John Smythe

          Never quote Broadsheet if you want anyone to take you seriously …or keep your job.

  5. Bacchus

    The number of tourists who would go to Kells to see the book is negligible. More people gpo to Kells on Saturday night for chips. Leave it in one of the finest libraries in the world where people queue up to see it every day.
    Are there not very good copies of this made now? In fact is it not a copy that’s on display in Trinity? Can’t the interested people of Kells (both of them) buy a copy and put it in the chipper window?

  6. Hans

    They can have the book back…… when they can read it!

    Also listed as a national treasure so you have to mobilize the army if you want it moved anywhere!

    1. Marklar

      Is there a list of these available anywhere? A quick google didn’t lead me to much.

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