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THE DURHAM BOOK. A page from the Gospels of Lindisfarne, preserved in the British Museum.
This is a reproduction of a truly remarkable style of Illumination, which appears to have arisen in Ireland about the sixth or seventh centuries. The style is formed by an artistic and ingenious interweaving of threads, bands and ribbons of various colors, upon black or colored grounds, varied by the intro. duction of extremely attenuated lizard-like reptiles, birds and other animals known only to the fauna of the illuminator's imagination.
This manuscript, as is shown by an entry at the end of the book, was the hand work of the Eadfrith, Abbot of Lindisfarne, who wrote it in honor of God and St. Cuthbert, the illuminations being executed by the Monk Oethewald, who later became Abbott. These facts fix the date of the work as between 698 and 721 A. D. The book was held in great esteem and later chronicles of Durham relate marvelous tales of the miracles it worked. As is usual in such works, the grandest pages are those devoted to the beginnings of the gospels, the one shown in the plate being that of St. John. The interlinear translation of the Latin into the Saxon is of a much more recent date than the rest of the manuscript.