British Library buys Europe's oldest surviving book

The gospel is on display in King's Cross. Credit: British Library.

Europe's oldest book - the St Cuthbert Gospel - has been saved for the nation, after the British Library raised £9m to buy it.

The gospel dates back to the seventh century and lay buried in a saint's coffin for hundreds of years.

It was produced in the north of England and buried alongside St Cuthbert, an early English Christian leader, on the island of Lindisfarne off the coast of Northumberland in around AD698.

The coffin was moved off the island to escape Viking raiders and the book was rediscovered when the coffin was reopened in Durham Cathedral in 1104.

The gospel, which is now on show at the library in King's Cross, is the earliest surviving intact book from the whole of Europe. Even its original red leather binding survives today.

The chief executive of the British Library, Dame Lynne Brindley, said: "This was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to secure the Gospel for the nation and we were both grateful and touched that so many people felt moved to support our campaign."

The British Library raised £9m to purchase the book. Credit: British Library.