Seeing Red

The initial page of St. Luke in the Lindisfarne Gospel has over ten thousand of them. Think of that. They are always arranged in threes and sometimes used to accentuate letters. Tiny drops of red lead, ornamental enhancers. Rubrication, it is called. It makes the letter appear to float up off the page and glow. So intrinsic often unremarked, so pervasive often undifferentiated by the casual glance. In Ireland, water is like that. River, rain, lough, stream, sea. Drip, pour, soak, squelch. The land is a sponge, the sky provident, the sea encompassing. Moth-eaten lace-land, seepage fills the gaps. Water, water everywhere, some of it fit to drink.

Lindisfarne Gospels. Actual size 34x25cm. British Library Cotton MS Nero O 1V. Produced in the Northumbrian island monastery circa 698 AD. Written and illuminated in honour of St.Cuthbert. What a lovely man Cuthbert must have been, whose feet the otters dried.

Ten thousand dots on a page 34×25 cm.

There were small wonders before micro-chips.