In July 2006 an early medieval manuscript was unearthed from a bog in Co. Tipperary in the centre of Ireland. The widely reported event was the start of ten years of research and conservation of what is now one of the National Museum of Ireland’s top ten treasures. Dating from the late eighth century, the codex is an illuminated psalter, written in Latin, from the age of the great Irish illuminated manuscripts. Although in a poor state of preservation having been entombed in the saturated bog for over a millennium, many features of the original book have somehow survived. One unexpected feature was the vegetable tanned leather cover, which seemed to draw stylistically from Near Eastern models for its form and is unknown to us in a Western context. This lecture will describe the material nature of the Psalter and some of the unique discoveries made along the way of what is the first Insular manuscript to be discovered in over two hundred years.
Dr. John Gillis is a Senior Manuscript Conservator and currently works in Trinity College Dublin at the Conservation Department. In 1988 he established and worked as Head of Conservation in the Delmas Conservation Bindery at Archbishop Marsh’s Library, Dublin. John has been teaching book conservation techniques and theory in Italy for over twenty years and he is currently working on a monograph detailing all aspects of the Faddan More Psalter, from art historical, codicological, palaeography and materiality.