THE LINDISFARNE Gospels, written and illuminated in the north-east of England at the very end of the seventh century, is one of the outstanding masterpieces of early medieval European book painting.
The book, with both Latin and English texts, was made in honour of God and of St Cuthbert, by Eadfrith, Bishop of the island of Lindisfarne. Also known as Holy Island, Lindisfarne lies a few miles off the coast of Northumberland.
The British Library has issued a book (14.99) to coincide with its exhibition of the Gospels. Written by Janet Backhouse, the illustrated, pocket-sized book examines the Anglo-Saxon oeuvre in careful detail, explaining both the design and the text in their historical context. "No other European manuscript of so early a date reflects so clearly the conflicting but ultimately reconciled philosophies and practices of the age which produced it," Backhouse concludes. A must for lovers of early Anglo-Saxon art.