Giant Bible produced in Sunderland and Jarrow returning to UK after 1,300 years

A giant Bible is returning to Britain after more than 1,300 years.

Friday, 1st December 2017, 1:59 pm
Updated Tuesday, 12th December 2017, 1:21 am
The Codex Amiatinus, a giant Bible which is returning to Britain after more than 1,300 years to go on display in an exhibition on treasures of the Anglo-Saxon world.

The Codex Amiatinus was made in the Anglo-Saxon monastery of Wearmouth-Jarrow in the early 8th Century and taken to Italy as a gift for Pope Gregory II.

The book, the oldest complete manuscript of the Bible in Latin to survive, is now coming back to British shores where it will go on display alongside the oldest surviving will written by a woman, in an exhibition on treasures from the Anglo-Saxon world.

Measuring a foot thick, the "extraordinary object" was described by the British Library's chief executive Roly Keating as "one of the great acts of creative book production of the entire millennium".

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Mr Keating said: "It was gifted to the Pope in the year 716 and has been in Italy ever since."

The Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana in Florence has "agreed to lend it back to the UK for the first time in 1,302 years".

The abbot who took the Bible to Rome died en route, but the book still made it to Italy.

"It has never been back to Britain since it set off 1,302 years ago.

"It is one of the greatest treasures of Anglo Saxon England and the earliest complete surviving manuscript of the Bible in Latin, " Keating said.

Other highlights of the exhibition, Anglo-Saxon Kingdoms, which opens in October next year, includes the oldest surviving will by a woman.

Dating from the 10th Century, "mega-wealthy" noblewoman Wynflaed gives an "extremely detailed" account of her possessions, which experts said "gives a flavour of the human intimacy" during "tumultuous years".

Written on cotton, the will, thought to originate from southern England, survived a fire in the 18th Century.

Wynflaed lists her estates, slaves, horses, tapestries, dresses, headbands, red tent, seat cushions, bed curtains, wooden chests, cross, metal cups, jewellery, coins and books in the document, which belongs to the British Library.

It will go on show in an exhibition spanning six centuries, from the eclipse of Roman Britain to the Norman Conquest.

Keating described the show as the "most spectacular and most comprehensive exhibition ever mounted of the arts and literary treasures of the Anglo Saxon world".

It will bring together four principal manuscripts of Old English poetry "for the first time," including the only medieval manuscript of Beowulf, which is already in the British Library's hands.