This manuscript was written in Armagh by the scribe Máel Brigte, in 1138. He was 28 years old.

Known for the beauty and brilliance of their work, Irish scribes played an important role in the development of Gospel-book design. The main language used in the manuscript is Latin, with some Irish. It contains the Gospels of Saints Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, as well as poems and interpretations of the Gospels.

These texts reveal the breadth of Irish Learning.

Our scribe was something of a chatterbox! He left notes in the manuscript describing the death of a king in 1138 as a ‘great crime’ and commented on the Irish weather and a terrible storm that happened two years earlier.

This item has been loaned as part of the British Library’s "Treasures on Tour" programme, which is generously supported by the Helen Hamlyn Trust. The British Library works with other libraries, museums and galleries across the UK to share these collections with thousands of people every day, helping to inspire the next great idea or moment of joyful discovery.

Each Gospel text originally began with a lively picture of an animal, the ‘evangelist symbol’. This brightly coloured lion of St Mark is one of two evangelist symbols that survive in the manuscript. Harley MS 1802, f. 60v © British Library Board