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A decorated page, In 'The Bodmin Gospels'

A decorated page, In 'The Bodmin Gospels'

Medium: Ink and pigments on vellum

Date: 900

Shelfmark: Additional MS 9381

Item number: f.108v

Length: 26

Width: 16

Scale: Centimetres

Genre: Illuminated Manuscript

In many ways the pages of the Bodmin Gospels of St Petroc's Priory, Bodmin, in Cornwall, look back further still than the late 9th century when they were made, probably in Brittany, a 'Celtic' area where cultural links with western Britain and Ireland were maintained.

Facing the Gospel of John, this page was originally a Breton version of a type often associated with gospel books made in Britain and Ireland in the late 7th- early 9th centuries. It resembles the 'carpet pages' or pages of patterned ornament, the most beautiful examples of which are in earlier manuscripts such as the Lindisfarne Gospels and Book of Kells. Usually carpet pages do not feature human figures, as this Continental one does. In this respect it resembles the 'four-symbols page', seen in the same period as the carpet pages except with a four-part design presenting the animal symbols of the evangelists (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John). The Bodmin Gospels' page has five circles, in an arrangement resembling yet other designs depicting Christ in the centre with the evangelists or prophets in the four outer circles. Originally figures holding books were within the four outer circles and another figure within the centre, but these have been scraped off, possibly during the Reformation or perhaps during the middle ages in preparation for an 'updating' which was never executed, leaving only the two little angel figures in the middle.

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