I took a trip to Dublin just to visit the Book of Kells. It’s true. That’s how much of a nerd I am.
This book, written around 800 AD, has held a fascination with me ever since I first came across a reproduction of the Chi Rho page in one of my brother’s books during elementary school. I twisted within the horror vacui, the spaces completely filled with decoration, and lost myself permanently in the labyrinth. (Remind me to tell you about my love of Ariadne, sometime.)
The Book of Kells contains the four Gospels of the New Testament, and is housed in Trinity College, Dublin, smack in the center of town. You enter and exit through the gift shop—sneaky and effective trick, there—into a dark room with images and descriptions of various parts of the book. The exhibit teaches you about what you are going to see before you get to the book itself: a plea for tourists to understand just how beautiful and important one book can be.
Notwithstanding the crowds, it was a special experience for me. Apparently they turn the page every few days. On my day, we were on the incipit page for Matthew. Nestled next to the book were also the Book of Durrow and the Book of Armagh. (Wonder how they said that? Probably something like Monty Python and the castle of Aughhhhhhhhhh.) They even had some super early Caxtons up the stairs. (Caxton was the first printer working in England.)
Our subject today is called the Book of Kells because it ended up in a monastery at Kells, where it spent most of its medieval life. How it survived the plundering Vikings who took summer rampaging trips to Kells is not known.
We are so lucky that such precious books have survived. The loss of such a piece of beauty is not commensurate with its size, but with its value to us. And the Book of Kells, to me, is invaluable.
What a nerdy entry. Do you think you can outdo me in nerdiness? Leave a comment proving you’ve done something just as nerdy. I’ll come back with another nerdy fact about myself.