BBC Homepage World Service Education
BBC Homepagelow graphics version | feedback | help
BBC News Online
 You are in: UK
Front Page 
World 
UK 
England 
Northern Ireland 
Scotland 
Wales 
UK Politics 
Business 
Sci/Tech 
Health 
Education 
Entertainment 
Talking Point 
In Depth 
AudioVideo 
Tuesday, 30 May, 2000, 23:32 GMT 00:32 UK
Ancient gospels reveal secret sketches
Lindisfarne gospels
Lindisfarne Gospels: New discovery after 1,300 years
Ancient sketches have been discovered beneath the manuscript of one of Britain's most treasured religious works.

The sketches of flowers, animals and Latin script were found by a scholar at the British Library in London, beneath the illuminated Latin manuscript of the Lindisfarne Gospels.

The beautifully-illustrated gospels were produced by monks on the Holy Island of Lindisfarne in Northumberland in the seventh century but fears that they might fall into Viking hands led to them being taken to the mainland.

They were later seized from Durham Cathedral and taken south to London where they are now the closely-guarded property of the British Library.

Cultural breakthrough

Michelle Brown, the curator of illuminated manuscripts at the British Library, who discovered the sketches, immediately recognised their significance.

"The importance of the sketches lies in the fact that the monks, who were among the few people at that time educated enough to read and write, for the first time appear to have been moving away from traditional Roman script familiar from churches in Rome.

"What's perhaps even more remarkable is that this new culture was born at a time of political turmoil, with the monks at Lindisfarne living under constant threat of invasion from Scotland."

The 60 previously undetected drawings seem to have been made using a metal-tipped pen on the calf-skin pages, leaving imprints that were visible through a powerful microscope.

They appear to be a series of practice sketches on the back of every page of the manuscript.

No other metal point paintings are known to have existed before the year 1100.

Search BBC News Online

Advanced search options
Launch console
BBC RADIO NEWS
BBC ONE TV NEWS
WORLD NEWS SUMMARY
PROGRAMMES GUIDE
See also:

22 Mar 98 | UK
'We want the good book'
04 Feb 98 | UK
Give us back the Gospels
Internet links:


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more UK stories are at the foot of the page.


E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more UK stories