On Display: Lindisfarne Gospels Carpet Page

Probably one of the most appealing aspects of the Middle Ages is its aesthetic. We all love castles, horses, armour, celtic knots, the list goes on. So, in this series we’ll be posting images of artwork and material culture. I’ll be starting with the first Carpet Page in the Lindisfarne Gospels:

Lindisfarne Gospels f. 2v(click for a larger image)

This is f. 2v (i.e. the back side (verso) of the second sheet (folio) of the manuscript) of the Lindisfarne Gospels, by far the most famous and probably the most stunningly illuminated of the Anglo-Saxon manuscripts. It was made in the late 7th or early 8th centuries at Lindisfarne, a monastery in the north of England that was founded by Irish missionaries, and held control over a vast network of smaller monasteries in the region.

Carpet pages like this one are characterized by geometric and colourful designs that take up an entire page, as here. They are mainly an Irish tradition, and can show an Irish artistic influence, as here.

They were also popular enough that they influenced other types of media. An incredibly common kind of tomb stone in Ireland and northern England uses a carpet-page like design:

Notice the similarity to the Lindisfarne carpet page. This suggests that the stones may have been designed by the same artists as were responsible for illustrating manuscripts – they were used to creating certain kinds of designs, and transferred these designs to stone.

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4 Responses to On Display: Lindisfarne Gospels Carpet Page

  1. Jacob says:

    Is that ‘quicumquae [hypercorrect] hunc titulum legerit orat pro berechtuine’? It’s interesting that it’s in the third person – if I remember aright (which I may not) Roman ones are often directly addressed to the reader.

  2. Jacob says:

    Also recte ‘oret’, no? Or is ‘oro’ sometimes construed as third in Ireland?

    Though perhaps I am becoming bogged down in trivialities.

    • JB says:

      I don’t really know the finer points of Hiberno-Latin, but i’m assuming it’s just a mistake. The quality of the latin on inscriptions obviously varied quite a bit, and the sense is perfectly clear, anyway.

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