Wednesday, April 18, 2012

British Library buys 7th century St Cuthbert Gospel

  • 18 Apr 2012
  • The Sydney Morning Herald
  • Press Association

British Library pays $14m for saint’s gospel

LONDON: A 7th-century book that lay buried in a saint’s coffin for hundreds of years has been saved for Britain after a fundraising effort. The British Library raised £9 million ($14 million) to buy the  the earliest surviving intact European book.

Its chief executive, Dame Lynne Brindley, said on Monday: ‘‘This was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to secure the Gospel for the nation and we were both grateful and touched that so many people felt moved to support our campaign.’’

The book, on show at the library in London, was produced in the north of England in the late 7th century and buried alongside St Cuthbert, an early English Christian leader, on the island of Lindisfarne off the coast of Northumberland about AD698.

The coffin was moved off the island to escape Viking raiders and taken to Durham, where the book, which is a copy of the Gospel of St John, was found when the coffin was opened at the cathedral in 1104.

The single largest contribution to the campaign was a £4.5-million grant from the National Heritage Memorial Fund, but there were also donations from trusts and the public.

Dame Lynne said: ‘‘To look at this small and intensely beautiful treasure from the AngloSaxon period is to see it exactly as those who created it in the 7th century would have seen it.’’

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