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Volume / Number: 2 / 274

CLA 274
  • Dublin Ireland Trinity College MS 58 (A. I. 6)
Script Irish Majuscule
Date VIII² (751 - 800)
Origin and Provenance

The origin of this magnificent MS is still in dispute. Prof. T. J. Brown, an expert in this field, writes: 'Written in a great Insular centre, as yet unidentified, but subject to Northumbrian influence in script and decoration alike. The possibilities include Northumbria itself, Eastern Scotland, and the Columban community at Iona, for which a new headquarters was constructed at Kells in 807–14. In view of the apparent date of the manuscript, Kells itself seems improbably on historical grounds.' It was at Kells after the suppression in 1539 that it came into the hands of Gerald Plunket of Dublin, a kinsman of Richard Plunket, the last abbot, then into those of James Ussher, Archbishop of Armagh, and passed with his library to Trinity College in 1661.

CLA Vol. 2
TM Number TM 66360
Support Parchment
Contents Testamentum Novum, Evangelia (Mt, Mc, Lc, Io).
Name Book of Kells. Codex Kenanensis.
Script Commentary

Written by several scribes. Script is a bold, very expert Irish majuscule—a veritable masterpiece of calligraphy: it has d, N n, R r, S (r and less frequent); some letters like m are curiously elongated to fill out the line, and various artistic tricks are employed for ligatures like mo, ha; uncial A is used at line-ends; suprascript u is c-shaped; to save space m and n at line-ends are often placed sideways. The capitula are written in a compressed type of majuscule verging on minuscule. Vernacular records are later additions.


☛CLA first-edition date (VIII–IX), origin, and provenance ('Written in a great Irish centre, probably in the monastery of Cenannus or Kells in Co. Meath: was at Kells throughout the Middle Ages and is recorded in the Annals of the Four Masters and in other sources.') changed to follow second edition. ☛Gamber, CLLA 143. ☛McGurk, Gospel books no. 87. ☛Steffens, Paléographie latine, Pl. 30.

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Last modified 05 April 2022