Abstract

The Lindisfarne Gospels (LG), also known as BL MS Cotton Nero D.iv, an eighth-century English Gospel Book, has been revered since its creation for its unique illuminations and its Anglo-Saxon gloss of the Latin gospels. The codex has changed hands many times, surviving Viking attacks, the Norman Conquest, and the tragic biblioclasm associated with the English Reformation. This study examines the way that three owners of the manuscript have understood and negotiated the balance between protecting the LG and sharing its treasures with pilgrims and scholars. I explore the methods and motives of the eighth-century monastic community that produced the LG; the Jacobean librarian, Sir Robert Cotton; and London's British Library. Although growing collections, impressive buildings, and advances in digital technology suggest that present-day scholars have increased accessibility to rare books like this one, librarians enshrine the LG today in almost the same way that medieval clergy did.

Disciplines

English Language and Literature