Precious Dublin Apocalypse manuscript now available to a global online audience

Posted on: 30 January 2019

Trinity College Dublin is celebrating the digitisation of the Dublin Apocalypse, one of great medieval treasures of the Library, with a symposium at which international scholars will reflect on this remarkable manuscript and its arresting vision of the end of days. The event will take place on Friday, February 1st, 2019.

In medieval Europe illuminated manuscripts containing the Book of Revelation were hugely popular among royalty and the wealthy elite. These devotional aids were designed to help the faithful understand one of the most dramatic and difficult Christian texts.

The Witnesses ascend into Heaven as a city falls.

The beautiful Dublin Apocalypse manuscript represents one of the most lavish examples of this tradition and is among the finest illuminated volumes in the Library of Trinity College Dublin. The 14th-century Latin manuscript of the Book of Revelation is accompanied by exquisite illustrations in gold and vivid colours and depicts scenes of the horsemen of the Apocalypse, battles with many-headed beasts and the heavenly Jerusalem for its readers to enjoy.

Now for the first time a full digital copy of the manuscript in all its splendour incorporating 118 individual digital scans can be viewed online by a global audience via the Library’s Digital Collections platform (

Laura Cleaver, Ussher Assistant Professor in the History of Medieval Art, explains: “An illuminated manuscript of international importance by a master artist, the Dublin Apocalypse provides an arresting vision of the end of the world. The manuscript is remarkable for its illustrations. Unusually the images rather than the Latin text dominate each page. Aside from its stunning beauty, the manuscript provides great insight into the long tradition of apocalypse manuscripts and how our ancestors contemplated the end of days.”

To celebrate the digitisation by the Library’s Digital Collections a one-day symposium will take place in Trinity Long Room Hub on Friday, 1 February 2019. The event, organised by the Library of Trinity College Dublin, in conjunction with the School of History and Humanities and the School of English, will draw together experts in their fields to discuss multiple aspects of the ‘Dublin Apocalypse’ and its broader context.

The Seventh Vial. An angel pours the seventh and final vial, bringing a plague of hail and fire. Below is the fall of Babylon.

Topics to be explored at the event include the history of how the manuscript reached Trinity; the manuscript’s artist; the iconography of the Dublin Apocalypse; and reflections on the twentieth-century history of the manuscript, which created a sensation when it was exhibited in 1930 in London’s Victoria & Albert Museum.

Speaking in advance of the event, Helen Shenton, College Librarian and Archivist, commented: “The Dublin Apocalypse is one of the Library’s hidden artistic treasures. As international scholars gather in Trinity to discuss this strikingly beautiful medieval manuscript, the full work is now freely accessible online, placing it alongside its peers on the global stage. This symposium, bolstered by the recent imaging of the manuscript, forms part of the Library’s programme to unveil our unique medieval manuscript collections, making them visible and accessible online like never before.”

Mark Faulkner, Ussher Assistant Professor in Medieval Literature, added: “We hope this will be the first of a series of conferences on individual manuscripts from Trinity’s outstanding collections, providing an opportunity for discussion between Trinity’s many medievalists, international experts and the public. These conferences show the vitality of medieval studies here in Trinity, as does Trinity’s new M. Phil in Medieval Studies, starting in September 2019. This programme has Trinity’s manuscripts at its centre, giving students the opportunity to study the medieval period, which in many ways made us who we are, through surviving artefacts at the home of the world’s most famous medieval manuscript.”

The full Dublin Apocalypse can be viewed in all its splendour at

The Dublin Apocalypse Symposium, Fri, February 1, 2019, 9:45am – 16:30pm, Neill Lecture Theatre, Trinity Long Room Hub, Trinity College Dublin. Registration here:

*Cover image: TCD MS 64, folio 4v – The Fourth Horseman. The fourth seal is broken bringing Death on a pale horse, the Hell-mouth follows him

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