St Cuthbert Gospel

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The St Cuthbert Gospel is an early 8th-century pocket Gospel book, written in Latin. The essentially undecorated text is the Gospel of John in Latin, written in a script that has been regarded as a model of elegant simplicity. Its finely decorated leather binding is the earliest known Western bookbinding to survive, and both the 94 vellum folios and the binding are in outstanding condition for a book of its age. It is one of the smallest surviving Anglo-Saxon manuscripts. The book takes its name from Saint Cuthbert of Lindisfarne, North East England, in whose tomb it was placed, probably a few years after his death. It was probably a gift from Monkwearmouth-Jarrow Abbey, where it was written, intended for St Cuthbert’s coffin when his remains were placed behind the altar at Lindisfarne. It presumably remained in the coffin through its long travels after 875, forced by Viking invasions, ending at Durham Cathedral. The book was found inside the coffin and removed in 1104. After the Dissolution of the Monasteries in England by Henry VIII between 1536 and 1541, the book passed to collectors, and is now owned by the British Library.

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