Thousands of people have made the pilgrimage to see the Lindisfarne Gospels at their intended resting place.
For the past two months the much-anticipated exhibition in Durham has proved to be the hottest ticket in town with almost 90,000 people taking the chance to view the historically important manuscript while it’s back in the region.
With just 19 days left until the artefact leaves home turf for the British Library in London, people living closer to home are being urged to make the most of the opportunity to see the script back alongside the personal possessions of St Cuthbert for the first time in 500 years.
Dr Keith Bartlett, programme director with Lindisfarne Gospels Durham, said: “Tens of thousands of people have already enjoyed a visit to the exhibition and as the closing date nears I would advise anyone who has been waiting to get their tickets not to delay any longer, or they may just miss out.
“To accommodate audiences, the exhibition is open from 10am to 10pm, seven days per week and the daytime sessions in particular have been extremely popular, selling out many days in advance.
“There are currently a limited number of tickets available for daytime sessions but there are still lots of tickets for evening sessions.”
Currently housed in Durham University’s Palace Green the Lindisfarne Gospels and the St Cuthbert Gospel, Europe’s oldest surviving bound book, are on loan from the British Library until September 30. They sit alongside possessions of St Cuthbert including a sapphire ring, a portable altar and his jewel cross.
Together the items tell the journey taken by monks who guarded the sacred items after fleeing their island. They travelled the length and breadth of the North of England searching for a safe resting place, which they finally found in ‘Dunholm’, or Durham.
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.”
The manuscript was last in Durham 26 years ago when it was displayed to mark the 1,300th anniversary of the death of St Cuthbert. It was last seen in the region in 2000 at Newcastle’s Laing Art Gallery to mark the new millennium.
Its arrival back in Durham has inspired a series of events across the region with the Great Gospels Cake Off still to come on September 19, with the St Cuthbert Oratorio on September 28.
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.
Timed tickets to see the gospels are available from Durham World Heritage Site Visitor Centre and Waterstones Academic Bookstore in Durham.
They can also be bought online from www.lindisfarnegospels.com and from Ticketmaster on 0844 248 2013.