1/4/07

The Bog Psalter

Excellent news today on the 8th century illumintated Book of Psalms recently found in a Tipperary bog. The Times reports that the book "is still in its original binding." As this book is probably a contemporary to the Book of Kells, which hasn't had its original covers for a long time, this 8th century bookbinding artifact is all the more exciting.

The provenance of the Book of Kells is murky, but we know it was in Kells by the 11th century because we have records of its being stolen from there during that period. Fortunately for us, said robbers then tore the text-block from its richly gilded and jewelled cover and ditched the actual pages, which were quickly recovered. They must not have been big readers. Ever since then it has been rebound several times, most of these far less than professional. In one notorious case some illustration was actually cropped from a few pages. In 1953, it was very finely rebound in four volumes of pigskin by Sir Robert Powell (who I have learned is the only person to be knighted for bookbinding). So while the actual pages of the Book of Kells may be in better condition than the Bog Psalter, the extant original binding of the latter makes it nearly as priceless.

I can't tell though from one of the last paragraphs in the article whether the binding or the text is of "a very high standard."

3 comments:

Roger Pearse said...

Very interesting -- I'd missed this find, and the information about the binding is very good news indeed.

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