Dr Carol Farr 
Full-day, from 10.00 - 17.00
Maximum: 15 students
Venue: Senate House

A day’s study of the Book of Kells, its art and its relationships to decorated Latin manuscripts ca. AD 800. We will see it within the cultural significance of early medieval decorated manuscripts and examine reasons for its decoration. Beginning with a concise survey of Kells’ contents to see how it is both unique and typical of its time, we will explore questions of its date and place of origin, as well as its later medieval history. Its art, design and scripts will then be compared with other decorated manuscripts from Ireland and Britain. Moreover, its contemporaries from selected continental contexts will be compared with it as an object and with elements of its art to understand how it belonged to a wider context as well as its ‘Insular’ one. We will conclude with a look at the 1990 facsimile alongside print and digital facsimiles of some other manuscripts. As we will be using digital facsimiles, please bring a laptop, tablet, or smartphone to view images if possible.  Please contact the coordinators if you are unable to bring a device.


Meehan, Bernard. The Book of Kells official guide.  London: Thames and Hudson, 2018. A concise introduction that references recent scholarship; widely available and reasonably priced.

Meehan, Bernard. The Book of Kells. London: Thames & Hudson, 2012. The best print illustrations; valuable observations by the former Keeper of Manuscripts at Trinity College, Dublin.

Webster, Leslie. Anglo-Saxon art. London: British Museum, 2012. Excellent survey of early medieval art from Britain, in all media.

Nees, Lawrence. Early Medieval Art. Oxford: Oxford University, 2002. Accessible survey including art c. 800 in western Europe, all media.

Farr, Carol A. The Book of Kells: its function and audience. London: British Library, 1997. Some paperback editions still available at reasonable prices from on-line dealers; in SHL libraries.

Pulliam, Heather. Word and Image in the Book of Kells. Dublin: Four Courts 2006. A monograph on the minor decoration.

Barbet-Massin, Dominque. L’Enluminure et le sacré: Irland et Grande-Bretagne VIIe-VIIIe siècles. Paris: Université Paris-Sorbonne, 2013. Thorough survey of book art of Ireland and Britain.

Henderson, George. From Durrow to Kells: the Insular gospel-books 650-800. London: Thames and Hudson, 1987. Still the best survey in English of Insular manuscript art.