The Book of Kells (c. 800 CE) is an illuminated manuscript of the four gospels of the Christian New Testament. It is currently housed at Trinity College, Dublin, Ireland. The work is the most famous for the intricacy, detail, and majesty of the illustrations. It is thought the book was created as a showpiece for the altar, not for daily use, because more attention was obviously given to the artwork than the text.
The book was produced by monks of St. Columba’s order of Iona, Scotland, but exactly where it was made is disputed. Theories regarding composition range from its creation on the island of Iona to Kells, Ireland, to Lindisfarne, Britain. It was most likely created, at least in part, at Iona and then brought to Kells to keep it safe from Viking raiders who first struck Iona in 795 CE, shortly after their raid on Lindisfarne Priory in Britain.
A Viking raid in 806 CE killed 68 monks at Iona and led to the survivors abandoning the abbey in favor of their order at Kells Co Meath. It is likely that the Book of Kells travelled with them at this time and may have been completed in Ireland.
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