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Page last updated at 06:31 GMT, Tuesday, 17 April 2012 07:31 UK

Oldest book in Europe saved for UK

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A seventh-century book that lay buried in a coffin for hundreds of years has been saved for the nation after a multi-million pound fundraising effort.

The British Library raised £9m to buy the St Cuthbert Gospel - a copy of the Gospel of St John - which is the earliest surviving intact European book.

Dr Claire Breay, lead curator of Medieval and Earlier Manuscripts at the British Library, told the Today programme's James Naughtie that the significance of the book is "unparalleled" and is "a landmark in the cultural history of Europe".

She described how it was placed in the coffin of St Cuthbert in around 698 and not discovered until the coffin was opened in 1104.

She went on to say that hundred of members of the public recognised the importance of the "national treasure" it is by donating money to buy the manuscript.


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