CROSS CARPET-PAGE

June 28, 2014

Lindisfarne Gospels
There is no doubting the Celtic nature of this design.  Against a mesh of tightly packed animal interlacing, the outline of a cross with vase-shaped arms stands out.
There are five cross-pages in the Lindisfarne manuscript, one at the start of the book and the other four at the beginning of the Gospels.  In each case, there was a precise format, as the portrait of the saint was followed by a spread containing a cross-page and the initial letter of text.  
The carpet-pages in the Lindisfarne Gospels are often compared with the geometric designs to be found on mosaic floors, but that is less true of this particular page.  Here, the closest parallels are with the stone carvings on some grave slabs or the intricate, filigree patterns of Celtic metalwork.  One commentator has also likened the image to the ornately engraved metal plaques that were attached to some books, ingeniously suggesting that the small circles in the cross represent the rivets which held this covering in place.



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