The Book of Kells is a stunningly beautiful manuscript containing the Four Gospels. It is Ireland’s most precious medieval artefact.
It was created in a Columban monastery in either Britain or Ireland and is believed to have been created c. 800 AD.
In 1541, at the height of the English Reformation, the book was taken by the Roman Catholic Church for safekeeping. It was returned to Ireland in the 17th century, and Archbishop James Ussher gave it to Trinity College, Dublin, where it resides today.
The illustrations and ornamentation of the Book of Kells combines traditional Christian iconography with the ornate swirling motifs typical of Insular art. Figures of humans, animals and mythical beasts, together with Celtic knots and interlacing patterns in vibrant colours, enliven the manuscript’s pages. Many of these minor decorative elements are imbued with Christian symbolism and so further emphasise the themes of the major illustrations.
You can visit and see it for yourself.