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Kells, Book of

Kells, Book of. A Latin copy of the four Gospels and some preliminaries, possibly late 8th cent., but first recorded at the monastery at Kells (Co. Meath) in 1007 after its theft and loss of covers. The unrestrained decoration and unusually large size suggest that it was an altar-book, for liturgical reading and ceremonial pomp; full-page illuminations and lavish embellishment render distinction amongst similar ‘insular’ manuscripts. In 1654 the town governor sent it to Dublin for safety from Cromwellian iconoclasm, following which it was presented to Trinity College by Henry Jones, post-Restoration bishop of Meath.

A. S. Hargreaves

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Book of Kells

Book of Kells Illuminated manuscript of the four gospels in Latin. Probably begun in the late 8th century at the Irish monastery of Iona, which later migrated to Kells, County Meath, Ireland, its intricate illumination and superb penmanship have earned it the epithet of ‘the most beautiful book in the world’. After its collation in 1621 by James Usher, it was presented to Trinity College, Dublin, where it has remained.

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Book of Kells

Book of Kells: see Ceanannus Mór.

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