From calf skin to tablet: all 680 pages of The Book of Kells now available on iPad

28 Nov 201214 Shares

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Image copyright The Board of Trinity College Dublin

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A new iPad app developed by X Communications in partnership with Trinity College Library Dublin features the entire decorative manuscript of The Book of Kells, considered the most elaborate of its kind to survive from the early Middle Ages.

The beautifully illustrated pages of The Book of Kells were created by Irish monks in the 9th century. While the calf-skin manuscript resides in the library of Trinity College Dublin, visited by about 500,000 people each year, iPad users can now view it in its entirety from their tablets.

High-resolution images of all 680 pages of The Book of Kells are downloaded with the 670MB app. These images have been digitised by the Digital Resources & Imaging Services in the library from transparencies provided by Faksimile-Verlag Luzern, who published a facsimile of the manuscript in 1990.

The Book of Kells for iPad - Image copyright The Board of Trinity College Dublin

Each spread from the book is captured screen-by-screen in The Book of Kells for iPad app, with most images about 1MB in size. For those seeking a closer look, 21 of the most decorated pages of the manuscript can be viewed up to six times their original size.

To optimise performance of the app and viewing of these high-resolution images on the iPad, the larger images are broken down into tiles of smaller file sizes – the very same method adopted by Google Earth to deliver detailed images on mobile devices without sacrificing performance.

The Book of Kells for iPad - Image copyright The Board of Trinity College Dublin

As well as browsing through the incredibly detailed illustrated pages depicting the four gospels, users can also learn about the history of the book, such as where and how it was made, and understand the meaning behind the decorative symbols used throughout. Users can also browse through more than 600 examples of animals, initial letters and other decorative themes.

The Book of Kells for iPad - Image copyright The Board of Trinity College Dublin

Designed by Stephanie Francis and programmed by Killian Walsh, The Book of Kells for iPad took six months to complete. It is available now from the App Store for €11.99.

All images copyright The Board of Trinity College Dublin

Elaine Burke is managing editor of Siliconrepublic.com

editorial@siliconrepublic.com