The North East of England is an area with a clear identity. It was for this reason that a few years ago the government first tried to introduce a regional assembly here. It was voted down by the region. Maybe it was because we didn`t want yet another layer of bureaucracy. However one issue of local identity that is still making the news is the location of the Lindisfarne Gospels. Many in the region want them returned here as an item of local pride. This seventh century manuscript has in recent years been on display in the region. Pressure continues for it to have a permanent home here, most likely in Durham cathedral treasury. They were removed to London from Durham during the dissolution of the monasteries.
This week it was announced that the British Library would lend the book to the region for three months every seven years. They will next be here in 2010. The Newcastle Journal has been reporting on the story this week:
During Tuesday’s meeting between the Library and North East MPs, Durham City’s Roberta Blackman-Woods told Sir Colin Lucas, chairman of the British Library Board, that it made “much more sense” for the North East to have the Gospels and for them to loan them to London once every seven years.
Ms Blackman-Woods said Sir Colin “just smiled at this suggestion”.
She said: “The campaign has tremendous resonance in the North East because people really do think that these Gospels belong to the region.
“They were written here and they are related to the early development of Christianity here.
“People think deep down that there is something here linked to their heritage and we want them in the best place to reflect that. I’m not surprised by the support shown across the North East, because this is very deeply felt.”
I`m delighted that there is strong feeling in the North East about our Christian heritage: it`s not something I often notice!
The Journal is conducting a survey regarding regional opinion on the matter. I`m not sure what to think but on balance I believe it may be a good thing for the region to have them back, especially if it stirs up pride in our Christian heritage.