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Revealed: The Gospels’ return
DETAILS of the Lindisfarne Gospels’ return to the North- East will be revealed today.
As many as 200,000 visitors are expected to make a pilgrimage to see the priceless Eighth Century Gospels when a three-month stay in Durham City opens in a year’s time.
The book, created on Lindisfarne in honour of St Cuthbert, will be the centrepiece of an exhibition in the newlycreated Dunelm Gallery, on Palace Green, only yards from the saint’s final resting place in Durham Cathedral.
Their long-awaited return will mark the first time that the saint and the sacred text have been reunited in more than 500 years.
The Gospels were taken to Durham by the monks who founded the city in 995AD and were removed on Henry VIII’s orders during the Dissolution of the Monasteries.
Now housed in the British Library, they last returned to the North-East 12 years ago, when nearly 200,000 visitors saw them during their brief stay at Newcastle’s Laing Art Gallery.
Representatives from Durham University, Durham Cathedral, Durham County Council and the British Library, which has sanctioned the three-month loan, are due to reveal details of the visit this morning, a year before the exhibition opens on July 1, 2013.
During the launch, the newly-formed Lindisfarne Gospels Community Choir will perform a piece called “On Eagle’s Wings”, which is inspired by the eagle used to represent St John in the Lindisfarne Gospels.
Next year, a significantly enlarged choir will perform in Durham as the exhibition opens, one of the events timed to coincide with the Gospels’ return.
The programme will feature exhibitions and performances, art and music, workshops and conferences, pilgrimages and retreats across the North.
Dr Keith Bartlett, Lindisfarne Gospels programme director, said: “The exhibition is a tremendous vehicle to showcase the heritage, spirituality and creativity of the North- East.”
The manuscript, which includes the earliest surviving example of the Gospel story written in English, will be displayed alongside other treasures, including the Seventh Century St Cuthbert Gospel and St Cuthbert’s treasures, including his jewelled cross, sapphire ring and travelling altar.
Dr Claire Breay, from the British Library, said: “Together, the Lindisfarne Gospels and the St Cuthbert Gospel help us interpret Britain during a time of great change, when a new national identity and new forms of learning, literature and art were emerging.
“These unique treasures...were the masterpieces of their time, and even after 1,300 years, retain the power to inspire wonder and awe.”
For details of the exhibition and tickets, go to lindisfarne gospels.com