British Library campaigns to buy the earliest intact European book

The Art Fund has pledged £250,000 towards the British Library's ambitious fundraising campaign to acquire the St Cuthbert Gospel for £9 million.

The Art Fund has pledged £250,000 towards the British Library's ambitious fundraising campaign to acquire the St Cuthbert Gospel for £9 million.

Created in the 7th century and intimately associated with one of Britain’s foremost saints, the Gospel is the earliest surviving intact European book and one of the world’s most significant books. The campaign follows a £4.5m National Heritage Memorial Fund grant towards the total.

A manuscript copy of the Gospel of St John, the St Cuthbert Gospel was produced in the North of England in the late 7th century and was buried alongside St Cuthbert on Lindisfarne, apparently in 698, and later found in the saint’s coffin at Durham Cathedral in 1104. It has a beautifully-worked original red leather binding, and is the only surviving high-status manuscript from this crucial period in British history to retain its original appearance, both inside and out.

The Library has until March 2012 to secure the full £9 million needed to save the book for the nation.
 

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