Zoomorphic Initial, In 'The Gospels Of Mael Brigte'
Medium: Ink and pigments on vellum
Although the main text is in Latin, there are a series of added notes in Irish at the end of each Gospel which provide the scribe's name: Mael Brigte Ua Mael Uanaig; his age: 28; the fact that he was writing in Armagh; and the date of completion: 1138. In the 13th century further academic notes were added, which suggest that the book was used for study in the new university of Paris.
The initial 'U' at the start of Luke chapter 24 is in the form of a frontal creature or human with big staring eyes. The figure with its stylised face and body resembles others in contemporary manuscripts associated with Scotland and Ireland, such as the Book of Deer (now in Cambridge University Library). Running diagonally across the page from upper left to lower right is a line which marks where one piece of parchment has been stuck to another, to compensate for the uneven edge of the smaller piece.