The decoration of the litterae notabiliores in the Cathach of Columcille
MetadataShow full item record
This item's downloads: 337 (view details)
The aim of this study is to examine the litterae notabiliores of what is known as the Cathach of Colum Cille (RIA MS. 12 R 33), the manuscript of a fragment of a psalter said to have been written in the late sixth century which has been restored to some extent. I have attempted to authenticate some of the stories relating to the manuscript and trace its movements. The initial letters are an admixture of uncial and semi-uncial and imaginative letters but origins of the decoration are, in some instances, obscure. The designs do not appear to have been copied from the exemplar. I have examined the manuscript, reviewed previous research and looked at the time and context in which it was written, the scribe/artist to whom it has been attributed, and researched the possible sources of the decorated letter. The decoration of this psalter came at the beginning of the later decorated Insular manuscripts. Placement of these initial letters establishes they were drawn simultaneously with the written text and notice was taken of the differences and similarities used in the decoration, which suggests the legend surrounding its manufacture and progress throughout history is suspect. The style of the decoration does not give any indication of the age of the manuscript but it is undoubtedly of early Irish origin.