On Saturday we toured the National Museum of Ireland. The artifact that caught my attention was the cover of a The Faddan More Psalter from the 8th century. Although I am not an English major, I have always been interested in the writing styles of different cultures and the importance that is placed in preserving written texts. This cover was made out of leather and had a papyrus binding. Three large buttons adorned the front of the cover. These may have been used with leather straps to close the book, although there did not seem to be any straps present. I attempted to take a picture of the cover, but was informed fairly quickly by security that “the use of photography is not allowed in this exhibit”. Luckily, I was able to find a photo on the internet.
The leather of the cover appeared to have some stains from its years of use. The book was also originally discovered in poor condition. The museum treated the book with a technique involving refrigeration of the text. One historically important aspect of this artifact is the papyrus lining on the cover. The lining demonstrates that there was direct contact between the people of Ireland and the Mediterranean around 800 AD.
The text, which this cover originally held is being preserved in the Long Hall of Trinity College. Although I did not see many other manuscript covers at The National museum, I have seen similar manuscript covers in Trinity’s collection. One particular manuscript is The Book of Kells, which was also determined to be from around 800 A.D. This manuscript is filled with intricate illustrations. Both of these texts, The Book of Kells and Fadden More Psalms, have allowed for the early study of medieval Christianity. A similar writing style and use of binding materials can be seen in both manuscripts.