Book of Kells Now Online.

Josh Jones wrote this piece for Open Culture almost a year ago, but I missed it then:

If you know nothing else about medieval European illuminated manuscripts, you surely know the Book of Kells. “One of Ireland’s greatest cultural treasures” comments, “it is set apart from other manuscripts of the same period by the quality of its artwork and the sheer number of illustrations that run throughout the 680 pages of the book.” The work not only attracts scholars, but almost a million visitors to Dublin every year. “You simply can’t travel to the capital of Ireland,” writes Book Riot’s Erika Harlitz-Kern, “without the Book of Kells being mentioned. And rightfully so.” […]

Its exquisite illuminations mark it as a ceremonial object, and its “intricacies,” argue Trinity College Dublin professors Rachel Moss and Fáinche Ryan, “lead the mind along pathways of the imagination…. You haven’t been to Ireland unless you’ve seen the Book of Kells.” This may be so, but thankfully, in our digital age, you need not go to Dublin to see this fabulous historical artifact, or a digitization of it at least, entirely viewable at the online collections of the Trinity College Library. The pages, originally captured in 1990, “have recently been rescanned,” Trinity College Library writes, using state of the art imaging technology. These new digital images offer the most accurate high resolution images to date, providing an experience second only to viewing the book in person.”

(There is more, and a couple of video clips, at the link.) I was thrilled to see it in person when I was in Dublin many years ago, and I am thrilled to have it available online. Thanks, internet!


  1. David Marjanović says

    What strikes me is that some words are as legible as if printed today, and others might as well be Armenian.

  2. squiffy-marie von bladet says

    I have traveled to the capital of Ireland without the Book of Kells being mentioned, I had no idea it was such a transgressive act! Must be a right pain in the arse for commuters. (“Book of Kells, Patrick!”, “Book of Kells to you too Siobhán!”)

    (I have also traveled to the capital of Ireland and looked at said Book, but that was in a different century altogether.)

  3. What an opportunity! Everyone, please, in lieu of rushing to Ireland (or go also, if you can), rush to read John Logan’s “The Library.” It’s an experience.

  4. I too went to the capital of Ireland (but not the former capital), but the Book of Kells was closed that day. Alas.

  5. Uchán!

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