“It’s just beyond the beyonds of possibilities that this has been found”

A fascinating, but far too short, report on RTÉ news of the discovery by the National Museum of Ireland, through the intervention of a bulldozer, of extensive fragments of a manuscript of what appears to be an ancient Psalter, believed to have lain buried in a peat bog for as much as 1200 years – only two images are noted as having been released in the report[RealPlayer video]. While there’s little further detail on the Museum website, or anywhere else, the comments in the video report by Dr Pat Wallace of the National Museum of Ireland and the Head of Conservation, Rolly Read, are worth noting. Update National Museum of Ireland press release, and an Irish Times article, the Guardian also notes the find, and the wrong Psalm.. The BBC also reports More Images added courtesy of National Museum of IrelandFrom the RTÉ report:

It is understood the pages are those of a slim, large format book with a wraparound vellum or leather cover from which the book block has slipped.

Image courtesy of National Museum of Ireland

While in the news clip[RealPlayer], Dr Pat Wallace enthused – “The main significance of this find is that we never dreamed, in our wildest dreams, that anything like this would ever survive (A) and (B) that we’d be fortunate enough, by a miracle, to have discovered it. It’s just beyond the beyonds of possibilities that this has been found.. and has survived.. and is now going to be conserved in the museum laboratory.”

“It was found in the south midlands of Ireland, in a bog. Presumably it’s not in its original position, it’s been in its present position possibly as much as for 1200 years. It was made and belonged to an ancient Irish Christian monastery.”

While Rolly Read said – “Obviously it’s a tremendous responsibility.. that side of things is quite daunting, it’s something we are going to be able to deal with. It’s also an incredible privilege.. when I first started working in conservation I never thought this sort of material even existed. So the chance of actually being able to work on it is absolutely incredible.”

Image courtesy of National Museum of Ireland

Update From the National Museum of Ireland press release

It is impossible to say how the manuscript ended up in the bog. It may have been lost in transit or dumped after a raid, possibly more than a thousand to twelve hundred years ago.


Raghnall Ó Floinn, Head of Collections at the Museum, estimates that there are about 45 letters per line and a maximum of 40 lines per page. While part of Psalm 83 is legible, the extent to which other Psalms or additional texts are preserved will only be determined by painstaking work by a team of invited experts probably operating over a long time in the Museum laboratory.

Dr Bernard Meehan, Head of Manuscripts at TCD, has seen the discovery and has been invited to advise on the context and background of the manuscript, its production, and its time. He reckons that this is the first discovery of an Irish Early Medieval manuscript in two centuries. Initial impressions place the composition date of the manuscript at about 800 AD. How soon after this date it was lost we may never know.

More To note, for the benefit of the tin-foil hat wearing brigade, that there has been a clarification issued by the Museum on the Psalm

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  • Harry Flashman

    This amazing find has one little spooky coincidence attached to it (or maybe not spooky, maybe the Big Man is trying to tell us something.) the only psalm that is legible on the psalter is psalm 83, the community’s lament for Israel. It is a prayer asking God’s help for Israel at a time when all the nations of the world were trying to destroy her;

    “For lo thine enemies make a tumult; and they hate thee have lifted up thy head. They have taken crafty counsel against they people, and consulted against thy hidden ones. They have said ‘Come let us cut them off from being a nation; that the name of Israel may be no more in remembrance.'”

    Hmmm, righteous warnings coming to us from 1200 years back, I’m glad I’m on the side of God’s chosen people!



  • Alan

    Too much reading of the Da Vinci code, Mr Flashmen. Sure you can’t get the Rosy Cross in there somewhere?

  • JR

    So Gods chosen people are the Israeli Jews!! I suppose thats why they think they can do whatever they like. Murder UN observers is their latest deed.

  • Moochin photoman

    Hocus Pocus Flashman

  • Nestor Makhno

    Amazing how news of the discovery of a 3,000 year old document can stir up political animosity in just under five comments!

    Well done slugger! You’ve excelled yourself on this one.

  • Nathan


    It looks like us the public will have to wait a few years before the artefact is safe enough to go on display.

  • gg

    An old prophecy found in a bog? You’re thinking of Lilibulero, surely!

    In any case, a rather fantastic find. A codicologist’s dream.

  • Greenflag

    ‘The Wuurrlllld is coming to an end -yet again .’

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    Prepare to be raptured but make sure to get the best deal still going .

    Believers in imminent Armageddon or fully subscribed members of God’s other chosen people i.e the ‘Loyalist brethern of Ballymena ‘ and members of the FP’s qualify for 10% extra on their worldy goods.

    RC’s/Anglicans /Presbys/Methodists and other infidels and damned , need not reply . You people are going nowhere !

  • Pete Baker

    Some additional links added to the post.. for the benefit of those not wearing tin-foil hats..

  • Occasional Commentator
  • GrassyNoel

    As a genuine history buff but a natural sceptic I’m torn between feeling chuffed at this news and yet a little bit bemused. I’m no archaeologist, but I’m not entirely sure why everybody is getting so excited. I read these articles a few times now. Only a couple of lines of this text are legible, and wasn’t it already known that Ireland had many monasteries here around 1000 – 1200 years ago? How is this a ‘staggering’ discovery? And why won’t they tell us which county it was found in? Why won’t they narrow it down any further than ‘the South Midlands’?

  • Gerald of Wales (Premier Source for Ancient Irish

    “It testifies to the incredible richness of the early Christian civilisation of this island and to the greatness of ancient Ireland” (Dr Pat Wallace, National Museum of Ireland).

    Absolute Bollockes! Anciente Irelande be an abomination before the lorde. Ye anciente Irishe be a bunch of uncivilised pervertes which regularly haveth sexual intercourse with horses and divers beasts of the field. The only thinge they be good at is playing the harpe, but the anciente Scottishes be much better harpistes.

  • Pete Baker


    Only a couple of lines at present.. hence the excitement of the Head of Conservation et al.

    But aside from the chance discovery of a 1200 year old manuscript in a peat bog.. try this comment from Dr Bernard Meehan, Head of Manuscripts at TCD..

    He reckons that this is the first discovery of an Irish Early Medieval manuscript in two centuries.

  • Bog warrior

    Dr Pat would need to take a lie down in a drkened room. Surely these manuscripts have turned up before in bogs? It isn’t beyond the beyonds of possibilities? Or is it? Is this the first ever? I’m a bog warrior and i think i recall similar finds in the past.

  • GrassyNoel

    The depressing thing, as someone said on the radio this morning, is can you imagine, with the unprecedented levels of construction activity that have prevailed in this country over the last 10 years, how much stuff has been found and thrown into a skip or burnt with a nod and a wink because some greedy cute hoor developer decided he wasn’t going to let a bunch of poncey archaeoligists stand between him and a quick buck?

    One of the (many) downsides to a booming economy and insane property prices

  • George


    I know of poorly paid labourers working on the construction of Irish motorways who buried artefacts they found in the pre-construction dig because of prissy archaelogists who told them they had to wear hard hats in a field as it was officially a building site and who told them they couldn’t listen to the radio.

    Didn’t want to give the “academic tossers” the pleasure of finding anything you see.

    It’s not just the developers, it goes all the way down to the lad with the shovel.

  • Pete Baker

    Added images of manuscript thanks to Aoife at the National Museum of Ireland.

  • An Ri Lugh

    It would be nice if we could dig up some evidence of the real cannon of the early Irish/Celtic church. Not all believed in the divinity of Jesus and many of the beliefs were closer to the Cathars and other “heretics” burned by rome. They were the last of the freethinking christians to survive before the reformation; indeed Irish monks evangelised many of those who’s descendants would burn in France and Germany. Rome didn’t get their crusade in Ireland until the penal laws, backing billy at the boyne was just another link in the chain begun by men from the community that spawned the knight’s templar. The penal laws wiped out the influence of the irish church and left the country ripe for romanisition in the aftermath. The church was in the pocket of the brits from then on. Time to ditch this twisted philosophy and rid ourselves of the last generations of the parasitic cleric class. Only then can there be true self-determination.

  • Dr Cagliari

    Ah – I recognise this. It’s our wee johnny’s chatechism that he dropped on the way back from a scourging at the Abbot’s house back in 856. Can he have it back please?

  • abucs


    A bit like the Dead Sea Scrolls being found just after the holocaust in 1947 as all the Jews were returning to Israel ? :o)

  • Timx

    It would be one of oddest discoveries on earth if it’s true.
    Hopefully, also peat bog area are closed for further examinations like it would done at normal historical discoveries.

    But is it possible that there is some connections with investigation of National Museon of Ireland and Hunt Museon/Nazi-Germany and conflict of Israel?

    Timing of discovery is just too perfect.

  • Rory

    Geraldus Cambrensis, Gerald of Wales, was not ever Ireland’s greatest publicist. I think that’s why the Irish Tourist Board, Bord Failte, sacked him.