EUROPE’S oldest surviving book is to return to its North-East home, it is announced today.

The St Cuthbert Gospel will be exhibited at Durham University and the British Library, in London, after a £9m fundraising campaign to buy the 7th Century treasure ended in success.

The Latin manuscript of John’s Gospel, formerly known as the Stonyhurst Gospel, was created in the North-East, buried with St Cuthbert on Lindisfarne in 698AD and found in his coffin in Durham Cathedral in 1104.

It has been on loan to the British Library from its Jesuit owners, the Society of Jesus (British Province), since 1979, and is currently on display there.

Its £9m fee includes a £4.5m grant from the National Heritage Memorial Fund, large gifts from the Art Fund, the Garfield Weston Foundation and the Foyle Foundation, significant donations from charitable trusts, foundations and wealthy individuals and contributions from members of the public.

Dame Lynne Brindley, chief executive of the British Library, said: “To look at this small and intensely beautiful treasure from the Anglo-Saxon period is to see it exactly as those who created it in the 7th Century would have seen it. The exquisite binding, the pages – even the sewing structure survive intact, offering us a direct connection with our forebears 1,300 years ago.

“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 Gospel’s first modern display in Durham is expected to be at Palace Green Library in July next year, when the Lindisfarne Gospels will also be exhibited – on a three month loan from the Library.

Professor Chris Higgins, vice-chancellor of Durham University, said: “This is a rare gem and an extraordinarily precious piece of heritage for the nation. I am delighted that the fundraising campaign has been so successful.”

The Very Reverend Michael Sadgrove, Dean of Durham, said: “It is the best possible news to know that the Cuthbert Gospel has been saved for the nation.

“For the people of Durham and North-East England, this is a most treasured book. It will always be loved and cherished here.”

The manuscript has been digitised and published online at