The Lindisfarne Gospels is an illuminated manuscript gospel book probably produced around the years 715-720 in the monastery at Lindisfarne, off the coast of Northumberland, which is now in the British Library in London. The manuscript is one of the finest works in the unique style of Hiberno-Saxon or Insular art, combining Mediterranean, Anglo-Saxon and Celtic elements.
The Book of Kells is an illuminated manuscript Gospel book in Latin, containing the four Gospels of the New Testament together with various prefatory texts and tables. It was created in a Columban monastery in either Britain or Ireland and may have had contributions from various Columban institutions from both Britain and Ireland. It is believed to have been created c. 800 AD. The text of the Gospels is largely drawn from the Vulgate, although it also includes several passages drawn from the earlier versions of the Bible known as the Vetus Latina. It is a masterwork of Western calligraphy and represents the pinnacle of Insular illumination. It is also widely regarded as Ireland's finest national treasure.
The Celtic cross is a form of Christian cross featuring a nimbus or ring that emerged in Ireland and Britain in the Early Middle Ages. A type of ringed cross, it became widespread through its use in the stone high crosses erected across the islands, especially in regions evangelized by Irish missionaries, from the 9th through the 12th centuries.
The St Cuthbert Gospel, also known as the Stonyhurst Gospel or the St Cuthbert Gospel of St John, is an early 8th-century pocket gospel book, written in Latin. Its finely decorated leather binding is the earliest known Western bookbinding to survive, and both the 94 vellum folios and the binding are in outstanding condition for a book of this age. With a page size of only 138 by 92 millimetres, the St Cuthbert Gospel is one of the smallest surviving Anglo-Saxon manuscripts. The essentially undecorated text is the Gospel of John in Latin, written in a script that has been regarded as a model of elegant simplicity.
The Book of Durrow is a medieval illuminated manuscript gospel book in the Insular script style. It was probably created between 650 and 700. The place of creation may perhaps have been Durrow Abbey in Ireland or a monastery in Northumbria in northeastern England or perhaps Iona Abbey in western Scotland—the place of origin has been debated by historians for decades without a consensus emerging. The Book of Durrow was probably at Durrow Abbey by 916. Today it is in the Library of Trinity College Dublin.
Durham Cathedral Library, Manuscript A.II.10. is a fragmentary seventh century Insular Gospel Book, produced in Lindisfarne c. 650. Only seven leaves of the book survive, bound in three separate volumes in the Durham Cathedral Dean and Chapter Library. Although this book is fragmentary, it is the earliest surviving example in the series of lavish Insular Gospel Books which includes the Book of Durrow, the Lindisfarne Gospels, the St. Teilo Gospels and the Book of Kells.
Triquetra denotes a particular complicated shape formed of three vesicae piscis, sometimes with an added circle in or around the three lobes. Also known as a "Trinity Knot" when parallel doubled-lines are in the graph, the design is used as a religious symbol adapted from ancient Pagan Celtic images by Christianity. It is similar to the valknut, a Norse symbol.
Celtic art is associated with the peoples known as Celts; those who spoke the Celtic languages in Europe from pre-history through to the modern period, as well as the art of ancient peoples whose language is uncertain, but have cultural and stylistic similarities with speakers of Celtic languages.
Migration Period art denotes the artwork of the Germanic peoples during the Migration period. It includes the Migration art of the Germanic tribes on the continent, as well the start of the Insular art or Hiberno-Saxon art of the Anglo-Saxon and Celtic fusion in the British Isles. It covers many different styles of art including the polychrome style and the animal style. After Christianization, Migration Period art developed into various schools of Early Medieval art in Western Europe which are normally classified by region, such as Anglo-Saxon art and Carolingian art, before the continent-wide styles of Romanesque art and finally Gothic art developed.
Carpet pages are a characteristic feature of Insular illuminated manuscripts. They are pages of mainly geometrical ornamentation, which may include repeated animal forms, typically placed at the beginning of each of the four Gospels in Gospel Books. The designation "carpet page" is used to describe those pages in Christian, Islamic, or Jewish illuminated manuscripts that contain little or no text and which are filled entirely with decorative motifs. They are distinct from pages devoted to highly decorated historiated initials, though the style of decoration may be very similar.
Insular art, also known as Hiberno-Saxon art, is the style of art produced in the post-Roman history of Ireland and Britain. The term derives from insula, the Latin term for "island"; in this period Britain and Ireland shared a largely common style different from that of the rest of Europe. Art historians usually group insular art as part of the Migration Period art movement as well as Early Medieval Western art, and it is the combination of these two traditions that gives the style its special character.
Celtic cross stitch is a style of cross-stitch embroidery which recreates Celtic art patterns typical of early medieval Insular art using contemporary cross-stitch techniques. Celtic cross stitch typically employs rich, deep colors, intricate geometrical patterns, spirals, interlacing patterns, knotwork, alphabets, animal forms and zoomorphic patterns, similar to the decorations found in the Book of Kells.
George Bain (1881–1968), born in Scrabster in Caithness, Scotland, was an artist and art teacher who made an important and influential contribution to the revival of interest in Celtic and Insular art which began in the 19th century
Interlacing patterns are patterns of lines and shapes that have traditionally dominated Islamic art. They can be broadly divided into the arabesque, using curving plant-based elements, and the girih, using mostly geometrical forms with straight lines or regular curves. Both of these forms of Islamic art developed from the rich interlacing patterns of the Byzantine Empire and from Coptic art.
Lacertines, most commonly found in Celtic Art, are interlaces created by animal forms. Interlaces are a two-dimensional decoration formed by a number of ribbons or straps woven into a complex, usually symmetrical design. The art is intricate, often incorporating animals into the elaborate twisting knots, and maze-like weavings. Some of the most common animals used in lacertines are snakes, birds, lions, and dogs.
In the visual arts, interlace is a decorative element found in medieval art. In interlace, bands or portions of other motifs are looped, braided, and knotted in complex geometric patterns, often to fill a space. Interlacing is common in the Migration period art of Northern Europe, especially in the Insular art of Ireland and the British Isles and Norse art of the Early Middle Ages and in Islamic art.
St Orland's Stone is a Class II Pictish Cross-Slab at Cossans, near Kirriemuir and Forfar, Angus, Scotland
Aidan Meehan is an Irish artist and author of 18 books on Celtic art and design. including the eight-volume Celtic Design series and Celtic Alphabets, Celtic Borders, The Book of Kells Painting Book, The Lindisfarne Painting Book and Celtic Knots, all published by Thames & Hudson
Insular illumination refers to the production of illuminated manuscripts in the monasteries of Ireland and Great Britain between the 6th and 9th centuries, as well as in monasteries under their influence on continental Europe. It is characterised by decoration strongly influenced by metalwork, the constant use of interlacing, and the importance assigned to calligraphy. The most celebrated books of this sort are largely gospel books. Around sixty manuscripts are known from this period.