Book of Durrow. IE TCD MS 57

Book of Durrow. IE TCD MS 57

Shelf Mark/Reference Number
  • IE TCD MS 57 ; former shelfmark: Lyon: A.4.5
Rights statement
  • Copyright The Board of Trinity College Dublin. Images are available for single-use academic application only. Publication, transmission or display is prohibited without formal written approval of the Library of Trinity College, Dublin.
Publisher location
  • Ireland
Date Created
  • between approximately 650-699
Physical extent
  • 248 folios
  • c245mm x c145mm
  • IE MS TCD 57 is a codex which belonged to the abbey of Durrow until its dissolution in the 16th century. It is the earliest of the surviving fully illuminated Insular Gospel Books. The 7th century text is in insular majuscule, often called insular half-uncial. Folios 1-248v (-245v as numbered in the codex): 'Book of Durrow', Gospels with prefaces, interpretations of Hebrew names and (on 5-7) canon tables (and also with record of a legal transaction concerning the abbey of Durrow, added on 248v in 11th century). A subscription on 247v seems to indicate that the codex was copied from a manuscript in the hand of Columba (founder of Durrow).An inscription on the last silver shrine in which the manuscript was formerly kept declared that the shrine had been made to the order of Flann Sinna, King of Ireland (877-915/916). This shrine disappeared after 1688. Coloured decoration includes six carpet pages, five Evangelist portraits, and initials. The carpet pages in IE TCD MS 57 feature the following: 1v: a double-armed cross; 3v: trumpet spirals; 85v: interlacing circles; 125v: interlace and panels of pattern; 192v: circle of interlace with a cross in the middle and panels of biting beasts as a frame; 248 (moved during rebinding, formerly 13): interlace with inset square crosses. Please see the Manuscripts & Archives Research Library’s catalogue entry for the manuscript here:
  • Bound in alum-tawed pigskin and wooden boards by Roger Powell in 1954.
  • For IE TCD MS 57 see R.O. Dougan, 'A Descriptive Guide to Twenty Irish Manuscripts in the Library of Trinity College Dublin', second edition, (Dublin, 1958), number 2; J. Guilmain in 'Speculum' 35 (1960) 30-31, 36, ib. 62 (1987) 21, and in 'The Art Bulletin' 67 (1985) 543-544 with figs. 13, 15; P. McGurk in 'Scriptorium' 15 (1961) 8, 13 and in 'Irland und die Christenheit', edd. P. Ní Chatháin and M. Richter, (Stuttgart, 1987), 171, 174; H. Bober in 'Homage to a Bookman, Essays on Mss., Books and Printing Written for H.P. Kraus', (Berlin, 1967), 48-49; P. Engelbert in 'Revue Bénédictine', 78 (1968) 234-235; K. Gamber, 'Codices Liturgici Latini Antiquiores, Spicilegii Friburgensis Subsidia' 1, (Freiburg, Switzerland, 1968), 1:142-143; M. Werner in 'Gesta' 8 (1969) 3-17 and ib. 20 (1981) 23-33 and 'Insular Art: An Annotated Bibliography', (Boston, 1984), 109-110; B. Fischer in 'Festschrift Bernhard Bischoff', (Stuttgart, 1971), 108 and 'Bibelhandschriften im frühen Mittelalter', (Freiburg, 1985), 83; E.A. Lowe, 'Codices Latini Antiquiores' 2, (Oxford, 1972), 43 with plate; T.J. Brown in 'Anglo-Saxon England' 1 (1972) 219-246 passim; J.T. McNeill, 'The Celtic Churches', (Chicago, 1974), 125; P. Doyle in 'Biblical Studies: The Medieval Irish Contribution, Proceedings of the Irish Biblical Association' 1, (Dublin, 1976), 31-45 passim; H. Zotter, 'Bibliographie faksimilierter Handschriften', (Graz, 1976), number 140; C. Nordenfalk, 'Celtic and Anglo-Saxon Painting', (New York, 1977), 15, 19-20, 24, figs. v (a), vi (b), pls. 2-8; L. Nees in 'Gesta' 17 (1978) 3-8; Alexander o.c. 9-12, 15, 29-32, 38, 42, 53, 66, 71, 72, 77, 84, 86, 89, illustrstration numbers 11-22, fig. 4; B. Bischoff, 'Paläographie der römischen Altertums und des abendländischen Mittelalters', (Berlin, 1979), 116, 251-252; H. Gneuss in 'Anglo-Saxon England' 9 (1981) 16; D.H. Wright in 'Die Iren und Europa im früheren Mittelalter', ed H. Löwe, (Stuttgart, 1982), 1:99-100; T.J. Brown ib. 106-109 passim; R.G. Calkins, 'Illuminated Books of the Middle Ages', (Ithaca, New York, 1983), 31, 33-63, black and white pls. 9-25, coloured pls. 2-3; J. Harthan, 'An Introduction to Illuminated Manuscripts', (London, 1983), 16; Stan Knight, 'Historical Scripts', (London, 1984), C3; T. O’Neill, 'The Irish Hand', (Dublin, 1984), 4 with facing pl., 61 with pl., 97; L.E. Boyle, 'Medieval Latin Palaeography: A Bibliographical Introduction', (Toronto, 1984), numbers 619, 661, 672; F. Wormald, 'Collected Writings', edd. J.J.G. Alexander et al., 1, (Oxford, 1984), 19-21; F. Henry and G. Marsh-Micheli, 'Studies in Early Christian and Medieval Irish Art' 2, (London, 1984), 23-25, 33, 38-39, 46, 84, 127, 129, 155, with illustrs.; W. O’Sullivan in 'Peritia' 4 (1985) 353-354; A. de Majo, C. Federici, and F. Palma in 'Scriptorium' 39 (1985) 4 n.8; M. Lapidge and R. Sharpe, 'A Bibliography of Celtic-Latin Literature, 400-1200', Royal Irish Academy Dictionary of Medieval Latin from Celtic Sources Ancillary Publications 1, (Dublin, 1985), number 516; Corinna Rössner, 'Das Book of Durrow im Spiegel der Forschung zur hibernosächsischen Kunst, Schriften aus dem Institut für Kunstgeschichte der Universität München' 3, Munich: Tuduv-Verlag, (1985). G. Henderson, 'Studies in English Bible Illustration' 1, (London, 1985), 12, 16-17, 19, 21, 28 and 'From Durrow to Kells: The Insular Gospel-Books 650-800', (London, 1987), 19-55 with plates; T.H. Ohlgren, 'Insular and Anglo-Saxon Illuminated Manuscripts: An Iconographic Catalogue c. A.D. 625 to 1100', (New York and London, 1986), number 6; G.O. Simms in 'Treasures of the Library: Trinity College Dublin', (Dublin, 1986), 40, 48-49, pls. 27, 31-33; C. de Hamel, 'A History of Illuminated Manuscripts', (Boston, 1986), 20, 23, pl. 16; O. Pächt, 'Book Illumination in the Middle Ages', (London, 1986), 11, 36, 60, 65-66 with nn. 4-5, figs. 76, 83, 87, 88, pl. II; U. Roth in 'Ireland and Insular Art A.D. 500-1200', ed. M. Ryan, (Dublin, 1987), 23-29; F. Avril and P.D. Stirnemann, 'Manuscrits enluminés d’origine insulaire' viie-xxe siècle, (Paris, 1987), 3; J. Stevenson in F.E. Warren, 'The Liturgy and Ritual of the Celtic Church', second edition, (Woodbridge, 1987), xci. For further bibliography on TCD MS 57 see Lowe t.c. 55, 60, and Alexander o.c. 32. MartinWerner, 'The cross-carpet page in the Book of Durrow: the cult of the True Cross, Adomnan, and Iona', The Art Bulletin 72 (1990): 174 223. Lloyd Laing, 'The provenance of the Book of Durrow', Scottish Archaeological Review 9 10 (1995): 115 124; Bernard Meehan, 'The Book of Durrow: a medieval masterpiece at Trinity College Dublin', (Dublin: Town House and Country House, 1996); Martin Werner, 'The Book of Durrow and the question of programme', Anglo-Saxon England 26 (1997): 23 39; Rijcklof Hofman, 'Durrow, Book of', in: Lalor, Brian (ed.), 'The encyclopaedia of Ireland', (Dublin: Gill & Macmillan, 2003). 330; Heather Pulliam, 'Cognition, colour and number in the Book of Durrow and other Insular gospel books' in Rachel Moss, Felicity O'Mahony and Jane Maxwell (eds.), An Insular Odyssey: Manuscript culture in early Christian Ireland and beyond, (Dublin 2017), 138-158.
Finding aid
  • The codex belonged to the abbey of Durrow until its dissolution in 16th century. In 17th century the codex was kept near Durrow by a man who used it to cure sick cattle by putting on the book some water which the cattle would then drink. Henry Jones, Bishop of Meath (1661-1682) and vice-chancellor of Trinity College Dublin, presented the codex to the College.
Resource type
  • iron-gall ink
  • colored ink
  • vellum (parchment)
  • Irish
Digital Object Id
  • MS57_001
  • 0136376


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