Ireland’s finest national treasure

June 11, 2010

Some say it’s Guiness, others claim it’s Jameson. Based on what I’ve seen so far, it could be haunting music. Or even great-looking men.

But actually, it’s the Book of Kells, a fantastic illuminated manuscript housed at Trinity College, in Dublin.

Ok, close your eyes.

Imagine that you are a Celtic monk in about 800 A.D.

Your job is to write out the four gospels of the New Testament and illustrate it. But first, you have to make the paper by soaking calfskin in water and lime. Scraping the hair off. Stretching and flattening it. And only then can you cut it into pages.

Then you must carve goose quills into ink pens at just the right angle so the ink will flow.

But you need ink, so you have to make your own out of plants, flowers, insects, minerals and other substances.

And then, finally, you’re ready to painstakingly copy the gospels out in calligraphy.

Yeah. I know. Well, we saw the end result this morning. Dated around 800 A.D. Incredible.

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