The Lindisfarne Gospels by Eleanor Jackson – Review
By Sandra Callard
This new book about The Lindisfarne Gospels is a wonderful way to see one of the most beautiful, fascinating and extraordinary pieces of writing and decoration that the world has ever seen. Written and illustrated over a period of years, the Gospels are hand-written and decorated by one man, a monk, more than 1,300 years ago on the small section of land in Northern England known then and now as Lindisfarne.
Lindisfarne still survives as a normal and active village, which spreads beside the remains of the old church amid the new, and is the solid and permanent site of villagers and visitors alike. They are both constant reminders of the glorious work that was created by this unknown monk so many years ago.
The first sight of The Gospels engenders a stunning and almost unbelievable joy that such a beautiful and ancient creation is still there to behold. They are displayed at other venues carefully and rarely, as the joy of seeing them vies with the fear of damage if they are moved, but this book lets the reader see as much as is possible of the actual writing, illustrations and beauty of these wonderful relics.
“A loving and apt companion”
But to call them relics could be a misnomer because the Gospels themselves are remarkably well-preserved, and this book is just about the best I have come across, both in its descriptions and knowledge of the era, as well as the pictures of the actual Gospels themselves. It really does bring the artefacts remarkably to life.
There is, of course, nothing like the real thing, but this beautifully crafted tome lets you get up close and personal with the words and illustrations – something that is virtually impossible with the original texts.
The book also has a running commentary throughout on the prints, illustrations and knowledge that surrounds these wonders, and each picture, print or illustration is attended by a careful and close understanding in their explanations of what the book is actually telling you. It is without doubt a loving and apt companion and guide to the beauties of the incredible Lindisfarne Gospels themselves.
‘The Lindisfarne Gospels: Art, History & Inspiration’ by Eleanor Jackson is published by the British Library, £12.99 hardback