A series of special events will be announced soon in Newcastle as preparations are stepped up to welcome the Lindisfarne Gospels to the city.
This Friday is the start of the one-year countdown to a rare visit by the ancient illuminated manuscript which was written just a few miles away on Holy Island in the early 8th century.
Said to be the most spectacular surviving manuscript from Anglo-Saxon England, The Gospels is described as one of the world's greatest treasures.
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It will go on display in Newcastle - for the first time in 22 years - at the Laing Art Gallery exactly a year from today, September 17, 2022 where visitors will be able to view it up until December 3.
And it is even known which of its beautifully-illustrated pages will be on show to visitors.
It is announced today that it will be opened at a page introducing St John's Gospel, featuring the main initial which happens to be the last major decoration in the manuscript and shows off all its creator's skill.
Special events - due to be announced soon - will be held during the exhibition which also coincides with the 1,900-year anniversary of the first phase of building Hadrian’s Wall which is triggering a whole year of celebrations in itself.
There is also to be "a high-profile artist commission" to reimagine the Gospels for a modern audience.
Julie Milne, chief curator of art galleries, Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums, said: “We are delighted to be working towards the presentation of the Lindisfarne Gospels in Newcastle in 2022 and have now reached the landmark of only one year to go.
"We will be announcing further significant news in the coming months about both the exhibition and the associated programme.”
Friday's announcement also marks 1,300 years after the death in 721 of Eadfrith, the monk who became the Bishop of Lindisfarne in 698 and is believed to have created the Gospels in the monastery on the island.
Now in the care of the British Library, the manuscript was most recently on loan to the region in 2013 when it went on display at Durham University where it attracted almost 100,000 visitors.
It has been to the Laing twice before, in 1996 and then 2000.
This time it will be on show at the gallery in an exhibition exploring its place in the world today and themes including regional and national identity.
Another matter of interest for locals is that inserted in the text of the Gospels - 250 years after its creation - is a 10th century word-for-word translation of the Latin text into Old English by Aldred, a provost of the monastic community of St Cuthbert at Chester-le-Street, which is the oldest known translation of the Gospels into English.
The Gospels - taken with the monks when they fled Lindisfarne due to the Viking raids - eventually ended up in London where it was known to be by 1605.
Xerxes Mazda, head of collections and curation at the British Library, said: “The Lindisfarne Gospels is one of the greatest treasures in the library’s care and we are looking forward to displaying the manuscript in the North East once again next year.
"The Gospels is renowned for the intricacy and beauty of its decoration, and we are excited to see how it is reimagined for a 21st century audience.”
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