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Story behind amazing book discovery to be told at John Rylands

22 Mar 2012

The fascinating story behind a 1,200-year-old book unearthed by a mechanical digger operator six years ago in an Irish bog is to be told by the man who is supervising its conservation.

Story behind amazing book discovery to be told at John Rylands
Story behind amazing book discovery to be told at John Rylands

John Gillis, a Senior Conservator of books and manuscripts at Trinity College Library, Ireland, will speak at The John Rylands Library on March 22 in an event jointly organised by the Manchester Centre for Anglo-Saxon Studies (MANCASS), based at The University of Manchester, and Manchester Medieval Society.

As the first ancient manuscript ever found in a wetland environment,  the Faddan More Psalter is one of the most remarkable archaeological discoveries ever made.

Mr Gillis, who is working with the National Museum of Ireland on examining and conserving the manuscript,  will describe the latest discoveries he has made about the remarkable artefact.

New discoveries about the large leather bound illuminated book are continually being made during its six year conservation project.

The lecture will chart the complex and challenging conservation processes and the exciting discoveries made along the way.

Director of MANCASS Professor Gale Owen Crocker, from The University of Manchester, said: “Despite its covering of brown peat, the lettering and illuminated decoration of this book were amazingly still visible when it was discovered.

“It was immediately obvious that this was a Psalter  - a book of the Psalms -  datable from its decorative style to the eighth-century, a golden age of manuscript illumination in Ireland and Northumbria.

“We are delighted to host John Gillis who will be able to let us in on the latest insights into this remarkable find.”

Notes for editors

John Gillis, senior conservator at the National Museum of Ireland, will discuss the Faddan More Psalter at the Historic Reading Room of the John Rylands Library, Deansgate on March 22 at 6PM.

The Psalter went on display at the National Museum of Ireland in Kildare St, Dublin in June 2011.

Manchester Medieval Society - MedSoc –is open to anyone interested in medieval matters, academics, students and general public. For more details contact

Manchester Centre for Anglo-Saxon Studies - MANCASS - hosts three ordinary meetings per year, a joint meeting  with MedSoc, at least one conference per year and the prestigious annual Toller Lecture. It is open to anyone with an interest in Anglo-Saxon studies. To join the mailing list  and for this year's programme email the Director: Visit 

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The University of Manchester
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