‘From Durrow to Kells’: Understanding Early Medieval British and Irish Gospel Books

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

Thirty years ago, George Henderson published his ground-breaking art historical study of Insular gospel books, bringing them out of the limits of stylistic analysis and into broad contextual and interpretative methodologies. In a one-day survey of the major examples and his approaches to them, we will moreover look at the further broadening of approaches to the manuscripts and their art since 1987. Our survey will consider new discoveries such as the Staffordshire hoard as well as questions posed in recent art historical, palaeographic and historical studies. We will be introduced to text and image approaches, methods emerging from considerations of performance and material, archaeological studies relating to contexts and other routes taken toward understanding the Insular gospel books in their artistic, social and historical background.


Henderson, George. From Durrow to Kells: the Insular Gospel-books 650-800. London: Thames and Hudson, 1987
Barbet-Massin, Dominique. L’Enluminure et le sacré: Irlande et Grande-Bretagne VIIe-VIIIe siècles. Paris: Université Paris-Sorbonne, 2013
Brown, Michelle P. Art of the Islands: Celtic, Pictish, Anglo-Saxon and Viking Visual Culture, c. 450-1050. Oxford, 2016
Webster, Leslie. Anglo-Saxon Art. London: British Museum, 2012
Brown, Michelle P. The Lindisfarne Gospels and the Early Medieval World. London: British Library, 2011
Farr, Carol A. The Book of Kells: its function and audience. London: British Library, 1997