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This, however, was lost when Viking raids in 793 sacked the monastery, killed many of the community The Book of Kells is the most recognized and most remarkable artifact of medieval Celtic art.
It features page after page of lavish, colorful lettering, knotwork, illumination, decoration and illustration.
The text is interspersed with large illuminated pages, animated initials, beasts, grotesque figures, and brilliantly colored ornaments.
The text is written between two ruled lines, which accounts in part for the remarkable steadiness of line in this hand-written manuscript.
The early pictish art which has survived to the present day consists, for the most part, of sculpturally incised symbol stones and a range of beautiful silver and bronze artifacts.
Latterly ( 4th & 5th century) the pictish artists, under the influence of the Christian Irish artistic and cultural renaissance turned their efforts towards the creation of devotional sculptures, the cross-slabs sarcophagi and ultimately the intricate illuminated manuscripts, sadly few of which have survived the various religious reforms of the ensuing centuries.
Eighth-century illumination usually depicts scenes from the life of Christ, however the Kells illuminators were exuberantly creative, drawing from the rich context of Irish religious imagery and Celtic artistic tradition.
Few Bibles survived the period; and large illuminated Bibles such as the Book of Kells are exceptional. The scribes worked through the daylight hours in the scriptorium in absolute silence, communicating their material needs in signs to an officer armarius.The workmanship is so fine that some of the details can only be clearly seen with a magnifying glass.