Book of Kells

I’m taking an online class about the Book of Kells from Trinity College in Dublin through FutureLearn.  The class is in the second week, but I don’t think it’s too late to join.  You can join here:  It’s been fascinating (and most of the reading and videos are pretty short so it’s not like it will take a huge amount of time).

This week though, there was an exercise to try and decorate a letter in the style of the Book of Kells.  Most of my interest in illuminated manuscripts is much later period (and I haven’t done anything in an Insular style in a very long time) but I decided to give it ago.

I found a letter M in “The Book of Kells” by Bernard Meehan (which was on the book shelf and handy) and decided to write out the word March for the current month. I wanted to use some iron gall ink and quill, but the ink decided not to get very dark (I think I need new ink!) so I went back to Calli brand ink and a metal dip pen.  If I was doing an SCA scroll, I’d spend a lot more time practicing the calligraphy.

I traced the letter and then went to look for paint.  I need to source out better colors for this era of illumination.  The paint is a combination of paints I made from dry pigments and tube gouache.  (I really need to make better notes on paints I make.  Some had colors labeled, but none listed the binder used. Future scribe will do a better job.)

I think it probably took about five hours start to finish. It’s on an Artist Trading Card so the size is 3-1/2 inches by 2-1/2 inches.

Book of Kells

And a blast from the past, a Book of Kells style scroll I did eons ago.

kells scroll


One thought on “Book of Kells

  1. Jehanne says:

    I saw that class. Congratulations for following through with it.

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