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The Lindisfarne Gospels

Duration:
45 minutes
First broadcast:
Thursday 20 February 2003

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the Lindisfarne Gospels. In 597 Pope Gregory the Great ordered that a mission of monks be sent from Rome to convert Britain to its own brand of Christianity - lest it be submerged by the pagan beliefs of the Anglo-Saxon overlords. Just over 100 years later, the Lindisfarne Gospels were produced - lavish and ornate manuscripts, central to the story of how Britain came to be unified by the flag of the Roman Church – and they came to embody a set of beliefs and ideas that dominated Britain for a thousand years.

Was the Rome mission in the 6th century the only strand of Christianity to sweep through Britain? Why did Northumbria become a key battleground for ideological dispute? How successful were the Lindisfarne Gospels in unifying the different strands of Christianity? To what extent did they serve as a founding statement of Christian identity in Britain?

With Dr Michelle Brown, Curator of Illuminated Manuscripts at the British Library and author of A Guide to Western Historical Scripts: From Antiquity to 1600; Dr Richard Gameson, Reader in Medieval History at Kent University and editor of St Augustine and the Conversion of England; Professor Clare Lees, Professor of Medieval Literature at King's College London and author of Tradition and Belief: Religious Writing in Late Anglo-Saxon England.

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