Made around 730, the St Chad Gospels is an exquisite blend of Irish and Anglo-Saxon influences. It shows strong correspondences with the Lindisfarne Gospels, which predates it slightly, and the Book of Kells, which it predates by about 70 years. The St Chad Gospels contains the earliest surviving examples of Old Welsh writing.
|Reflectance Transformation Imaging (RTI) Gallery: During the summer of 2014, I used Reflectance Transformation Imaging (RTI) to capture dry-point glosses and the state of pigments for pages of the St Chad Gospels. Dry-point glosses are notoriously difficult to capture, etched with a stylus but no ink. These dry-point glosses include three Anglo-Saxon female names on page 226, which non-coincidentally also contains the Magnificat, Mary's song praising God.|
RTI requires a series of photos taken with varying directional lighting. Its software generates a composite file that when viewed allows for control over lighting and mathematical enhancements to provide a hyper-view of surface detail. This site's viewer offers specular enhancement, which increases the level of reflected light—best for viewing the dry-point glosses and state of pigments. I have also included a link to a short video discussing RTI and dry-point glosses, including new discoveries: The St Chad Gospels: Reflectance Transformation Imaging and Newly Discovered Dry-Point Glosses.
Features of the Website
|Historical Image Overlays: The Historical Image Overlays provide photographs taken over the last 125 years of the St Chad Gospels, beginning with images from 1887 and including images from 1911, 1929, 1956, 1962, 2003, and 2010. Choose any two images for comparison from the two drop-down boxes. You can observe how a page is aging by adjusting the top image's transparency with the slidebar located between the two drop-down boxes. When images from 1956 are compared to those from 1962, you can observe rare information about the effects of page flattening and manuscript rebinding on the pigments of an early medieval manuscript. I have included a brief discussion of some preliminary findings from overlaying these images.|
|Interactive 3D Gallery: The 3D Gallery offers sixteen of the most significant pages of the St Chad Gospels in interactive 3D. It is set up to function as a workspace and includes tools for measuring any feature of a page; creating annotations (I have a sample annotation for page 5, the Chi-Rho); and generating a URL for the position into which a 3D image has been manipulated (for easy return to a position or sending the URL to a colleague or friend and/or using it as a citation).|
Key commands include rotating a 3D image around any point by holding down the alt key, left clicking and moving the mouse; moving an image by holding down the mousewheel and moving the mouse; and increasing and decreasing an image's size by spinning the mousewheel. A full-screen view is available anytime by pressing the F key. Complete instructions are available at the top of the viewer for a 3D image.
While this is a beta version, it is extremely stable. The 3D Gallery has full functionality with Safari and Google Chrome. (Also, don't miss a video on 3D and its potential for studying manuscripts.)
|Overlay Viewer: This innovative viewer automatically loads the set of images taken for a page (regular color and multispectral, from ultraviolet to infrared). It allows the choice of any two of these images from a drop-down list and provides adjustment of the top image's transparency through a slidebar. This is the regular viewer for this website, whether you are in the image galleries for the St Chad Gospels or Wycliffe New Testament, Historical Image Overlays, or Multispectral Visualizations.|
|Multispectral Visualizations of Page 141: Page 141 has intrigued scholars for years. It contains an area of possibly erased text. A possible erasure is highly significant because page 141 also contains the oldest surviving Old Welsh writing. If this is an erasure, any recovered text might provide significant information about the early years of the St Chad Gospels in Wales. These thirty-two multispectral visualizations offer enhanced viewing of the possibly erased area. To generate the images, a colormap is applied to enhance ocular contrast, providing a rather dramatic flare. I have also supplied a brief discussion of page 141 and the layout of its Old Welsh memorandums.|
|Searchable Transcript: Presently, a searchable transcript of Matthew's Gospel is available, with the remaining gospels to follow. The text appears beside a selected page from the Image Gallery. To search the text, use the search box in the top right portion of the screen. Numbers separated by a colon represent a chapter and verse; single numbers represent a verse; and numbers separated by a period and beginning with an "E" represent Eusebian (Ammonian) section numbers.|
If you have questions about either of these manuscripts or comments about the website, please do not hesitate to contact me. I hope you enjoy the wonder of these exquisite treasures of Lichfield Cathedral.
Through an agreement with the Chapter of Lichfield Cathedral, I am delighted to offer digital versions of two of the Cathedral's most cherished manuscripts, the St Chad Gospels (also known as the Llandeilo Fawr Gospels, St Teilo Gospels, Gospels of St Chad, and Lichfield Gospels) and its Wycliffe New Testament (see Acknowledgements for complete information). These manuscripts provide irreplaceable insights into the early and later medieval period, from religious expression to liturgical practices to the art of bookmaking. In the future, I hope to continue my collaboration with the Cathedral and add further manuscripts, like the Cathedral's Gregory IX's Decretals and Justinian Codex Juris Canonici.
In the past, access to the St Chad Gospels and Lichfield's Wycliffe New Testament has been limited. In the case of the St Chad Gospels, a facsimile version has never been published—however, the National Library of Wales, Aberystwyth, produced three photostat copies and presented one to Lichfield Cathedral in 1929. The lack of a facsimile version has restricted scholarship on this great gospelbook and limited scholarly understanding of its artistic expression, functions, and contributions to the larger Insular tradition (manuscripts made in the British Isles from roughly 600-850 C.E.). This digital version helps to rectify this situation, supplying access to the complete St Chad Gospels through color and multispectral images. Color is essential for apprehending meaning as expressed through the use of contrasting and corresponding pigments and appreciating the beauty of this exquisite gospelbook. Multispectral images, from near ultraviolet to infrared, supply access to information not visible to the naked eye (see Imaging section).
However, it is important to note that 2D photography has its limits. For instance, it is clumsy at capturing surface details. Notoriously difficult to capture features, such as dry-point glosses, go under-represented, encouraging important features to be missed, or worse yet, leading to false interpretations. Therefore, I have employed various advanced imaging technologies to try to capture and render as much of the materiality of the St Chad Gospels as possible, knowing that I will fall short of the material richness of this glorious gospel-book (see Project for further information).
The Wycliffe New Testament lacks scholarship but for different reasons. The manuscript did not find a home at Lichfield Cathedral until the 1940s, and it escaped the notice of Conrad Lindberg in the 1970s when he updated Forshall and Madden’s list of Wycliffe Bibles and New Testaments. Lichfield's Wycliffe New Testament is in remarkable condition. It does not suffer from the water damage and wear of the Chad Gospels—although to be fair, it is 700 years younger.
Lichfield Cathedral holds the copyright to these images but has assigned the University of Kentucky the rights to release these images for scholarly purposes through an attribution non-commercial share-alike Creative Commons licensing agreement (England/Wales 2.0). If you desire images for publication or other commercial uses, information about fees and a request form can be found at Lichfield Cathedrals' Photograph and Image Request. For questions, please contact Clare Townsend, the manager of the Cathedral's libraries.
Viewing the Images: Images of these two manuscripts are located in IMAGE GALLERIES accessible through the drop-down menu that appear when you place your cursor over either ST CHAD GOSPELS (menu includes IMAGE GALLERY ) or WYCLIFFE NEW TESTAMENT (menu includes IMAGE GALLERY ) in the upper right of the banner. The image galleries have thumbnails and information about the chapters and verses for each page.
Overlay Viewer: The viewer for this website organizes all of the images taken for a page (RGB and multispectral) and allows easy access to them. Once you click a thumbnail, the viewer opens and automatically loads the full-color image (RGB) as the base layer (top drop-down box). The lower drop-down box allows you to overlay whichever spectral band you choose. The slidebar to the right adjusts the transparency of the overlaid image. Overlaid images offer multiple benefits for viewing. For example, overlaying a near infrared image and adjusting its transparency aids in sorting out bleed through of decoration and script from the other side of a page and overlaying an ultraviolet image can help identify letters that suffer from water-damaged and wear.
Each manuscript also has a list of its salient features, accessible through the drop-down menu that appears when you place your cursor over either ST CHAD GOSPELS (FEATURES ) or WYCLIFFE NEW TESTAMENT (FEATURES ) in the upper right of the banner.
For a full-screen view of an image, click the four arrows in the upper right of the viewer .
To search a transcription of the St Chad Gospels (currently, only Matthew's Gospel is available), type any Latin word in the search box at the top of the page and click search. I will add transcriptions of the other gospels as I complete them. Thumbnails of pages that contain the searched-for word (or words) will appear as part of a results page. Click a thumbnail and the viewer opens for that page.
I will continue to update this website as I develop new ways to visually present these manuscripts and facilitate scholarship. I am working to add further 3D images for the St Chad Gospels, gradually making the complete manuscript available in 3D. In the fall of 2012, I presented this work at the Digital Humanities Congress at Sheffield University in England, generating considerable interest and enthusiasm. In addition, I am encoding both text and visuals using TEI guidelines and will add them as I finish each gospel. Finally, I am including an analysis of the scribal hands of the St Chad Gospels, a supplement to an article I am preparing. I will continue to develop this website as a space for scholarly research and for anyone who wishes to explore these magnificent medieval manuscripts, treasures of Lichfield Cathedral and the world.