Durham Gospels

Durham Gospels – Rosenkilde and Bagger – A.II.17 – Durham Cathedral (Durham, United Kingdom)

Lindisfarne Abbey, Holy Island (United Kingdom) — Late 7th century

Left incomplete by monks fleeing from the Vikings in the late 7th century, but with a ritual function to this day: every new bishop of Durham swears his oath on this Gospel Book with the oldest depiction of the Crucifixion in English art

  1. The fragment represents the oldest surviving specimen of an illuminated Insular Gospel Book

  2. It was brought to Durham by monks fleeing from Lindisfarne Abbey after it was attacked by Vikings

  3. The other decorative page consists of an elaborately illuminated full-page incipit for the Gospel of John

Durham Gospels

A.II.17 Durham Cathedral (Durham, United Kingdom)
  1. Description
  2. Facsimile Editions (1)
Durham Gospels

Named after its modern repository in Durham Cathedral, this fragment of a Gospel Book originated at Lindisfarne Abbey or possibly Iona in the late 7th century and was brought to Durham after the monks were forced to flee from Viking attacks. Although only two of the decorative pages survive, they include the oldest Crucifixion scene in Hiberno-Saxon art as well as a splendid incipit page for the Gospel of John. The same scribe responsible for the Echternach Gospels also appears to have written the Durham Gospels, but it is not clear whether this is an incomplete work or merely the surviving fragment of a Gospel Book that would have also contained the Evangelist portraits and carpet pages typical of Insular art. Nevertheless, these thirteen leaves represent the earliest specimen of an illuminated Insular Gospel Book and are thus of tremendous art-historical importance.


Alternative Titles
Late 7th century
One full-page miniature of the crucifixion of Christ; decorated initial at the beginning of the Gospel of John

Available facsimile editions:
Durham Gospels – Rosenkilde and Bagger – A.II.17 – Durham Cathedral (Durham, United Kingdom)
Rosenkilde and Bagger – Copenhagen, 1980
Facsimile Editions

#1 The Durham Gospels

Rosenkilde and Bagger – Copenhagen, 1980

Publisher: Rosenkilde and Bagger – Copenhagen, 1980
Commentary: 1 volume by Christopher D. Verey, Thomas J. Brown and Elizabeth Coatsworth
Language: English
1 volume: Exact reproduction of the original document (extent, color and size) Reproduction of the entire original document as detailed as possible (scope, format, colors). The binding may not correspond to the original or current document binding.
Facsimile Copy Available!
Price Category: €
(under 1,000€)
You might also be interested in:
Durham Ritual – Rosenkilde and Bagger – A.IV.19 – Durham Cathedral (Durham, United Kingdom)
Durham Ritual
Chester-le-Street (United Kingdom) – 10th Century

A fruitful union of the Gallican Rite from Gaul with the Roman Rite: the Durham Rite as an invaluable source on the history of the English Church and language

Experience More
Rule of St. Benedict – Rosenkilde and Bagger – MS Hatton 48 – Bodleian Library (Oxford, United Kingdom)
Rule of St. Benedict
Canterbury or West Midlands (United Kingdom) – Ca. 700

A document with a formative effect for the entire Middle Ages everywhere in Europe: the oldest surviving copy of the Rule of St. Benedict, produced in England ca. 700

Experience More
Blog articles worth reading
Filter selection