Dublin, Trinity College, MS 57 Book of Durrow

  • Latin
  • s. vii2/s. viii (?)
  • Irish manuscripts
  • vellum
A 4. 5
Cat. no. 57
Book of Durrow
Provenance and related aspects
s. vii2/s. viii (?)
Late 7th or early 8th century, or at least 650 x 900.
Origin, provenance
Origin: Insular zoneInsular zone
Entry reserved for but not yet available from the subject index.

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Insular/disputed. It is known if the manuscript was actually produced at or near the Columban foundation of Durrow, from which it takes its name.
Provenance: ass. with Flann Sinna mac Maíle Sechnaill
Flann Sinna mac Maíle Sechnaill
(d. 916)
Flann Sinna (‘of the Shannon’), son of Máel Sechnaill mac Máele Ruanaid; was high-king of Ireland from the Clann Cholmáin, the leading branch of the southern Uí Néill.

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A silver shrine or cumdach was made to keep the manuscript along with other relics of St Columba. Roderic O Flaherty’s inscription suggests that the cumdach was commissioned by Flann mac Mael Sechnaill (Flann Sinna).
Provenance: Ireland
No short description available

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Dairmag/Dermag ... Durrow
County Offaly
No short description available

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The manuscript is thought to have been at Durrow by at least the 11th century, when a memorandum was added concerning transfer of land from Killeshin to Durrow (f. 248v). The manuscript remained there for the rest of the medieval period and into the 17th century.
Later provenance: Dublin, Trinity College LibraryDublin, Trinity College Library
Entry reserved for but not yet available from the subject index.

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The shrine was lost in the 17th century.
Later provenance: Rebound and rearranged in 1954.
Hands, scribes
Inscriptions on f. 247v, f. 248v and f. IIv.
Codicological information
25 cm × 15 cm
Palaeographical information
six carpet images, five evangelist portraits, decorated initials
Table of contents

Links to texts use a standardised title for the catalogue and so may or may not reflect what is in the manuscript itself, hence the square brackets. Their appearance comes in three basic varieties, which are signalled through colour coding and the use of icons, , and :

  1. - If a catalogue entry is both available and accessible, a direct link will be made. Such links are blue-ish green and marked by a bookmark icon.
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The above method of differentiating between links has not been applied yet to texts or citations from texts which are included in the context of other texts, commonly verses.


While it is not a reality yet, CODECS seeks consistency in formatting references to locations of texts and other items of interest in manuscripts. Our preferences may be best explained with some examples:

  • f. 23ra.34: meaning folio 23 recto, first column, line 34
  • f. 96vb.m: meaning folio 96, verso, second column, middle of the page (s = top, m = middle, i = bottom)
    • Note that marg. = marginalia, while m = middle.
  • p. 67b.23: meaning page 67, second column, line 23
The list below has been collated from the table of contents, if available on this page,Progress in this area is being made piecemeal. Full and partial tables of contents are available for a small number of manuscripts. and incoming annotations for individual texts (again, if available).Whenever catalogue entries about texts are annotated with information about particular manuscript witnesses, these manuscripts can be queried for the texts that are linked to them.


Primary sources This section typically includes references to diplomatic editions, facsimiles and photographic reproductions, notably digital image archives, of at least a major portion of the manuscript. For editions of individual texts, see their separate entries.

[dig. img.] Digital resources and imaging services, Trinity College Library Dublin, Online: Trinity College Dublin, 2009–present. URL: <>.
Luce, A. A. [ed.], Evangeliorum quattuor codex Durmachensis: The Book of Durrow, 2 vols, Olten: Graf, 1960.
Facsimile (vol. 1) and text (vol. 2).
Stokes, Whitley, and John Strachan [eds.], Thesaurus palaeohibernicus: a collection of Old-Irish glosses, scholia, prose, and verse, 3 vols, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1901–1910.  
comments: Three volumes published between 1901 and 1910: I. Biblical glosses and scholia (1901); II. Non-Biblical glosses and scholia; Old-Irish prose; names of persons and places; inscriptions; verse; indexes (1903); III. A supplement to Thesaurus Palaeohibernicus, by Whitley Stokes (Halle, Niemeyer, 1910). Reprinted by DIAS in 1975 and 1987, with Stokes' supplementary volume being included with volume 2.
Internet Archive – vol. 1: <link> Internet Archive – vol. 2: <link> Internet Archive – originally from Google Books: <link>
Vol. 2: 257 Notes direct link

Secondary sources (select)

Netzer, Nancy, “The Book of Durrow and the Lindisfarne Gospels”, in: Richard Gameson (ed.), The Lindisfarne Gospels: new perspectives, 57, Leiden, Boston: Brepols, 2017. 166–182.
Pulliam, Heather, “Cognition, colour and number in the Book of Durrow and other Insular gospel books”, in: Rachel Moss, Felicity OʼMahony, and Jane Maxwell (eds), An Insular odyssey: manuscript culture in early Christian Ireland and beyond, Dublin: Four Courts Press, 2017. 138–158.
Bhreathnach, Edel, “Observations on the Book of Durrow memorandum”, in: John Carey, Kevin Murray, and Caitríona Ó Dochartaigh (eds), Sacred histories: a Festschrift for Máire Herbert, Dublin: Four Courts Press, 2015. 14–21.
Howlett, David, “The colophon in the Book of Durrow”, Hermathena 168 (Summer, 2000): 71–75.
Werner, Martin, “The Book of Durrow and the question of programme”, Anglo-Saxon England 26 (1997): 23–39.
Meehan, Bernard, The Book of Durrow: a medieval masterpiece at Trinity College Dublin, Dublin: Town House and Country House, 1996.
Laing, Lloyd, “The provenance of the Book of Durrow”, Scottish Archaeological Review 9–10 (1995): 115–124.
Werner, Martin, “The cross-carpet page in the Book of Durrow: the cult of the True Cross, Adomnan, and Iona”, The Art Bulletin 72 (1990): 174–223.
Henderson, George David Smith, From Durrow to Kells: the insular Gospel-books, 650-800, London: Thames and Hudson, 1987.
Rössner, Corinna, Das Book of Durrow im Spiegel der Forschung zur hibernosächsischen Kunst, Schriften aus dem Institut für Kunstgeschichte der Universität München, 3, Munich: Tuduv-Verlag, 1985.
Bieler, Ludwig, “The palaeography of the Book of Durrow”, in: A. A. Luce [ed.], Evangeliorum quattuor codex Durmachensis: The Book of Durrow, 2 vols, Olten: Graf, 1960. 89–97.
Shorter treatments
Hofman, Rijcklof, “Durrow, Book of”, in: Brian Lalor (ed.), The encyclopaedia of Ireland, Dublin: Gill & Macmillan, 2003. 330.
Colker, Marvin L., Trinity College Library Dublin: descriptive catalogue of the mediaeval and Renaissance Latin manuscripts, 2 vols, Aldershot: Scolar Press, 1991.
Alexander, Jonathan J. G., A survey of manuscripts illuminated in the British Isles, vol. 1: Insular manuscripts, 6th-9th century, London: Miller, 1978.
de Paor, Liam, “The Book of Durrow”, in: s.n. (ed.), Great books of Ireland: Thomas Davis lectures, Dublin, London: Clonmore & Reynolds, Burns & Oates, 1967. 1–13.
Kenney, James F., The sources for the early history of Ireland: an introduction and guide. Volume 1: ecclesiastical, Revised ed., Records of Civilization: Sources and Studies, 11, New York: Octagon, 1966.  
Chapters: I. History in Ireland; II. Ireland in the ancient world (to about A.D. 700); III. The Irish church in the ‘Celtic’ period; IV. The monastic churches, their founders and traditions: the primitive foundations; V. The monastic churches: churches of the sixth to ninth centuries; VI. The expansion of Irish Christianity (seventh to twelfth century); VII. Religious literature and ecclesiastical culture (seventh to twelfth century); VIII. The reform movement of the twelfth century.
comments: Reprints: Records of Civilization: Sources and Studies. New York: Columbia University Press, 1929; First, revised reprint in 1966, with addenda and corrections by Ludwig Bieler; Records of Civilization 11. Shannon: Irish University Press, 1968; Records of Civilization 11. Dublin: Ó Táilliúir, 1979; Dublin: Four Courts Press, 1993.
630–631 (§ 455) [id. 455.]
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December 2011, last updated: August 2023