Digitizing the St Chad Gospels

The University of Kentucky and the Litchfield Cathedral have formed a partnership to digitally preserve and study the fragile 8th century St Chad Gospels. The video below explains some aspects of the project. A more complete discussion of the project can be found at the link below from The Chronicle of Higher Education.


Jennifer Howard (5 Dec 2010) 21st-Century Imaging Helps Scholars Reveal Rare 8th-Century Manuscript. The Chronicle of Higher Education.


6 thoughts on “Digitizing the St Chad Gospels

  1. But hasn’t the digitization work already been done? The St. Chad Gospels can be viewed at the website of Lichfield Cathedral; after installing Shockwave, click on “Turn the Pages” in the side-bar, wait, and the book should appear.

    1. I didn’t look at the cathedral website. This process uses a variety of wavelengths of light that can reveal faded pigment and details about the ink used. Some of the most valuable information in the St Chad gospels is the marginalia which often is fainter, probably because it was written with common ink.

  2. Hello Michelle and James:

    One of the pleasures of Insular manuscripts is the belles-lettres climate which surrounds it, whose taste is exceptionally rare and fine. Perhaps an historian of attitudes of scholars to Insular books might start with E.A. Lowe’s passage about dining with cardinals off silver plates in the course of doing CLA. My contribution here (although I am tempted to tell you of my meeting with the French scholar to whom I will just now refer in Dublin, just after – with the TCD Librarian – eating tea and cakes in Bewley’s the famous Dublin teashop) relates to a trip to Lichfield to see the Gospels in 1975. They confided that when Francoise Henry wanted to photograph the codex, well they just placed it on some nice dry grass in the cathedral close and photographed it there- it had been a nice day. At that time Wendy Stein was working on the Gospels under Julian Brown. Later Michelle’s namesake from the BM was allegedly moving onto the St Chad Gospels, Wendy’s having presumably not found out all that was to be discovered (and she was hot stuff on marginalia etc). Now of course it has been given the treatment as it were; but to me nothing is more moving than these rare books, whether St Augustine’s Gospels at Westminster Abbey recently, or St Chad’s one Christmas at the end of a live broadcast on TV, being used liturgically. Benedict kissed the St Augustine’s volume in September. There is a quality to life, repeated pilgrimages. Not a quantity, a must-wannabe-wannaget quotient, as I foolishly used to believe, not a once-off has been done or not has been done score (and for a long season believing that near ruined my life!). Happily I now, from Georgia, see sense. May the splendour of the Church and its art long outlive and humble us all! Martin

  3. Martin, the St Chad Gospels are still used liturgically at Litchfield Cathedral. The article referred to them being used at the ordination of new bishops (as a form of continuity with St Chad the first bishop of Litchfield) and if I recall correctly for high festivals of the church.

  4. Yes, very occasionally, as at the Christmas service I referred to; and at ordinations, as you might expect. Today I have just seen a 5th century Georgian church. Would you like a post about that?
    (Lichfield has no ‘t’)

  5. In the last year, the title of this video has been changed to promote a grant and people not involved in the original imaging. The main NSF grant used for imaging was EDUCE, funds available because Ross Scaife, a digital humanist and the only humanities scholar on the grant, unexpectedly passed away. Other essential funds were supplied by the University of Kentucky’s College of Arts & Sciences. Such misrepresentation erases Ross’ contribution and leaves a false trail for future scholars to understand this digital work.

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