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During these centuries, the English language was used and written down for the first time, pagan populations were converted to Christianity, and the foundations of the kingdom of England were laid. At the heart of the book is the British Library's outstanding collection of Anglo-Saxon manuscripts, the richest source of evidence about Old English language and literature, including Beowulf and other poetry; the Lindisfarne Gospels, one of Britain's greatest artistic and religious treasures; the St Cuthbert Gospel, the earliest intact European book; and historical manuscripts such as Bede's Ecclesiastical History and the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle. These national treasures are discussed alongside other internationally important manuscripts and museum objects held in major collections in Britain, Europe and the United States.
This book, and the exhibition it accompanies, chart a fascinating and dynamic period in early medieval history, and will bring to life our understanding of these formative centuries.