Book of Kells


The Book of Kells was produced in a monastery by monks on the Isle of Iona, Scotland, to honour Saint Columba in the early 8th Century. After a Viking raid the book of Kells was moved to Ireland in the 9th Century.

The Book was stolen in the 11th Century, and the cover was torn of it and chucked into a ditch. The cover, which was probably produced with gold and gems, it has never been found the cover and the book was damaged by water but was very well preserved.

In 1541, the Roman Catholic Church for safekeeping. It was returned to Ireland in the 17th Century and Archbishop James Usher gave it to Trinity College, Dublin, where it still lies today.

The Book of Kells was written on Vellum which was smooth for a writing surface. There are 680 individual pages, only ten different colours were used in the illuminations, however they were formed from rare and expensive dyes that had to be imported.

My first impression of the Book of Kells is that its old, beautiful and smoothly wrote by the monks. What captures my attention is the detail put into the illuminations and the beautiful colours used within the drawings. This work makes you feel very soothed and relaxed because of the curves used and the pretty colours and historical background.

In the work different Celtic knots and Celtic symbols like dragons are being used in lettering by the monks. The work is slightly abstract as the illuminations produced aren’t realistic because of the curved lines used, colours used and how the monks changed the shapes of the different objects to curve or blend into the shape.

The monks produced a lot of different lines in this work they produced, thin, thick, dominating, curved, straight, bold, vertical etc. they are very detailed and Celtic knots were difficult to draw it was a speciality a monk had and were blessed with. The focus of the work is based around Celtic knots, dragon heads, curved lines and anything that was important to the Celts like their historic language. This was portrayed by the Celtic knots being repeated a lot throughout the book, dragon heads were encircled with the drawing of the head with the letter.

The technical skills within this drawing was very high monks were seen very highly not just because of them being close to god but because of the talent they possessed to be able to draw this Celtic lettering and anybody that wasn’t a monk and could draw this lettering which was very few was seen in the hierarchy of people very close to the monks.

My point of view on the Book of Kells is that it is a beautiful book I especially love the history on it and how much detail has gone into each letter, and with the detail that’s gone into the lettering shows a lot of hours they took to produce. I think this work is very effective as the historical background to the Book and how the Book was used by the Celts and the Monks is all shown within the lettering and the book. I love how beautiful Celtic knots look especially when used within a letter from an historical time period it brings a beauty to the work that I believe couldn’t be found within a modern day piece.




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