Treasure emerges from the mud of history
Dalya Alberg, Arts Correspondent
To the untutored eye, it looks like a lump of mud, but experts say that an 8th-century psalter found in an Irish peat bog is exceptionally significant.
Even though the vellum pages of the early Book of Psalms are a crumpled mass, they are likening it to the Book of Kells, one of the world’s most beautiful illuminated manuscripts.
As the find is thought to date from the late 8th century, the illuminators of both books would have been contemporaries, within ten or twenty years of each other. The two books — among few survivals of an age of outstanding manuscript production — are comparable in their large-format size.
Specialists from the museum and Trinity College Dublin — which was given the Book of Kells in the 17th century — are collaborating with international experts on an ambitious project to separate the more than 100 leaves, each measuring 32.4cm by 22cm (12.7in by 8.6in) and with about 30 lines to a page. Decoration on the first page includes an interlaced border and the figure of an eagle.
The psalter, written in Latin, is still in its original binding and is, said Mr Read, of “a very high standard”. Such lavish books would have been produced in scriptoria attached to important monasteries. There were once six such monasteries within about 15km (9 miles) of Faddan More. The nearest was Birr, 7km away.
Thursday, January 04, 2007
THE BOG PSALTER is being compared to the Book of Kells in the Times of London: