The historic Lindisfarne Gospels will go on show today in Durham ending a 26-year hiatus for the North East.
More than 100,000 people are expected to view the historically precious book which, for the first time in 500 years, will be displayed alongside St Cuthbert’s own treasures.
Combined the gospels and items such as a sapphire ring, a portable altar and Cuthbert’s jewel cross, chart the incredible journey of medieval monks who guarded the sacred items after the island of Lindisfarne came under attack from Vikings in 793 and they were forced to flee.
With the manuscript and the body of Cuthbert they travelled the length and breadth of the North of England searching for a safe resting place which they finally found in Dunholm, Durham.
Now back in the city, the gospels will make Durham University’s Palace Green Library their home until September when they’ll be returned to the British Library in London.
Prof Chris Higgins, the university’s vice chancellor said: “This remarkable book is one of the great landmarks of human cultural achievement and has a uniquely important place in the art, scholarship, culture and Christian Heritage of the North East.
“Bringing together this amazing collection of artefacts and manuscripts alongside the extensive outreach programme for school children is one of the most important things Durham, a leading global university, can do to celebrate and promote the North East of England in which we are embedded.”
Housed in the university’s newly-created facilities the gospels will be displayed in the History of Book Gallery alongside the St Cuthbert Gospel, Europe’s oldest surviving bound book, from today until September 30.
It’s been 26 years since the manuscript was in Durham when it was displayed to mark the 1,300th anniversary of the death of Cuthbert.
The historically important book, said to weigh 18lbs, was last in the region in 2000 to mark the new millennium when about 180,000 people saw it at Newcastle’s Laing Art Gallery.
British Library chief executive Roly Keating said: “Lindisfarne Gospel Durham is set to be a unique celebration of one of the world’s great heritage treasures.
“Even after 1,300 years the Lindisfarne Gospels and the St Cuthbert Gospel retain the power to inspire wonder and awe.”
Admission to the exhibition costs £7.50 for adults with concessions for under 16s and over 60s.
For more information about tickets can be found at www.lindisfarnegospels.com