07 November 2018, The Tablet

An Anglo-Saxon page turner

An Anglo-Saxon page turner

The giant eighth-century Codex Amiatinus
Photo: Photo: Sam Lane Photography


On a June day in AD 716 a group of Northumbrian monks stood watching as a boat sailed away down the River Wear. On board was their abbot, Ceolfrith, and a gift he was taking to the Pope: an enormous Bible, weighing more than 75 pounds.

Ceolfrith didn’t make it to Rome: he died en route, in France. But the huge book journeyed on with his companions to Italy, and reappeared a century or so later in a monastery in Mount Amiata in Tuscany, where it was given the name by which it has been known ever since, the Codex Amiatinus.

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