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The Lindisfarne Gospels to head North in 2022

The Lindisfarne Gospels, the most spectacular surviving manuscript from early medieval England, will go on display in the northern town of Newcastle on loan from the British Library in 2022.

The manuscript will feature in a high-profile exhibition at the Laing Art Gallery, Newcastle, with a supporting exhibition at neighbouring Newcastle City Library with the aim of attracting visitors from across Northern England and beyond.

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This is the fifth time since 1987 that the Lindisfarne Gospels has been on display in the North-East part of England.  In 2013 the manuscript was the focus of an exhibition at Durham University, which attracted nearly 100,000 visitors, and told the historic story of the Gospels and its spiritual significance. The manuscript has also been to the Laing Art Gallery twice before, in 1996 and 2000.

Matthew Evangelist portrait, Lindisfarne Gospels, c. 700 (Cotton MS Nero D IV) (c) British Library Board

The 2022 exhibition will focus on the meaning of the Lindisfarne Gospels in today’s world and how its themes link to personal, regional and national pride and identity. Working with curators and other experts from the British Library, academics and cultural professionals from across the North East, exhibition curators will explore the ways in which the Gospel book written on Holy Island in the early eighth century, which helped redefine the identity of its community across 400 years, can bring people together today by inspiring thinking about who we are and where we come from, about identity, creativity, learning and sense of place.

“We are delighted to be collaborating with our partners across the North East of England to display the Lindisfarne Gospels in Newcastle next year,” says Roly Keating, Chief Executive of the British Library. “The manuscript includes the earliest surviving example of the Gospels in English and is one of the great national and indeed international treasures in our care, renowned for the intricacy and beauty of its decoration. We are thrilled to be working with the Laing Art Gallery and the Newcastle City Library again to share the Library’s collections, which are for everyone, to captivate and inspire audiences young and old.”

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Carpet page for Gospel of John, Lindisfarne Gospels, c. 700 (Cotton MS Nero D IV) (c) British Library Board

To celebrate the Gospels going on display, venues across the North East will be invited to host supporting events and there will be an accompanying programme of activity for community groups and schools, as well as a high profile artist commission to reimagine the Gospels for a 21st century audience.

“The Lindisfarne Gospels is many things to many people but, first and foremost it is a book created in the North and of the North, by the community of Lindisfarne,” adds Cllr Simon Henig, Co-Chair of the North East Culture Partnership, which helped to co-ordinate the loan. “In 2022 this book will be placed at the centre of an exhibition in Newcastle and at the heart of events and activities across North East England. Hosting the exhibition over 20 years since the Gospels last visit to Newcastle, will be our contribution to the national Festival 2022.”

Text page with initials, Lindisfarne Gospels, c. 700 (Cotton MS Nero D IV) (c) British Library Board

Top Image: Lindisfarne Gospels c.700 installed in Anglo-Saxon Kingdoms exhibition at the British Library in 2018 (c) British Library Board

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