(15 July 2011)
The British Library, in conjunction with Durham University and Durham Cathedral, has announced plans to purchase the Stoneyhurst/St Cuthbert’s Gospel and a related partnership agreement to display the work in Durham and the British Library.
Prof Paul Murray offered these thoughts on this development:
“I am thrilled and delighted that Durham University has played such a strong role in the fundraising campaign to secure the St Cuthbert Gospel for the nation. It is particularly fitting that it will be displayed for 50% of the time on the UNESCO World Heritage Site that runs between Durham Cathedral, itself the shrine to St Cuthbert, and Durham Castle (University College), with the University’s Palace Green Library in between. Given that Durham Cathedral already holds the Durham Gospel Fragment, when the Lindisfarne Gospels return to Durham on a three-month loan in 2013 – itself a very exciting prospect – the way is now open to being able to display three of the world’s most important Gospel manuscripts in parallel, each of them intimately associated with Durham and the North East of England.
The decision of the British Library to work in clear partnership with Durham University, Durham Cathedral and other North East partners in this way is further testimony to the range and depth of highly specialised expertise that exists in Durham and to the capacity of these institutions to focus world scholarly and public attention on their study and significance. Taken together with the remarkable holdings at Ushaw College, concerning which the University has recently also entered into a Memorandum of Understanding with the Trustees (the Bishops of the Northern Catholic Province and the Diocese of Shrewsbury), the Durham holdings arguably constitute the most significant collection of medieval manuscripts, incunabula (pre-1500 early printed works) and early print books in the country.
This announcement of the clear future connection of the St Cuthbert Gospel with Durham University comes at the very point at which the University is working with the Ushaw Trustees and the national and international Catholic communities in order to establish a centre for Catholic scholarship and cultural heritage at Ushaw, under the expanded auspices of the University’s existing internationally regarded Centre for Catholic Studies, that will be of genuinely world-significance. It represents a firm public vote of confidence in Durham’s capacity to deliver on such goals and a further significant step towards their realisation. I urge all in the Catholic community who are able so to do to think seriously about how they might in turn support these crucial endeavours with imagination and generosity.
The Catholic community is here being presented with the opportunity to establish an international beacon of Catholic culture and scholarship that will endure for centuries. It is our collective responsibility to ensure that this opportunity is brought to fruition and full illumination for our own delight and the good of future generations.”
For more information, please see Durham University's announcement here.