The Codex Eyckensis, an eighth-century Gospel Book, was probably written in the scriptorium of the Abbey of Echternach, Luxembourg. It is the oldest preserved “book” produced in the Low Countries, the wider area of which encompasses contemporary Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg, and is an exceptional testimonial to the status of the written word.
The Codex Eyckensis, the
oldest illuminated manuscript of the Low Countries,
is available on line!
As “cultural jewel of the Maasland region” the town of
Maaseik once more invests in its heritage. For many years now, Saint
Catherine’s church has held as its most prized possession an absolute highlight
of medieval illumination: the Codex Eyckensis, an exquisitely illuminated
Gospel Book dating back to the 8th century. This masterpiece deserves
recognition! Over the course of the coming years the town of Maaseik will
therefore invest in various projects aimed at increasing the scientific
presence and tourist appeal of the Codex Eyckensis. One of these projects is
the digitisation of the Codex Eyckensis.
Under the leadership of Professor Lieve Watteeuw and in cooperation with
the KU Leuven Imaging Lab (Bruno Vandermeulen) and with the KU Leuven Illuminare
– Centre for the study of Medieval Art, the Codex Eyckensis was accurately
digitised at very high resolution. A mobile digitisation lab was set up at the
church treasury to enable the manuscript to be examined and photographed on
site and in optimal circumstances.
We decided to make the 8th-century manuscript available to the Maaseik and
Maasland public, but also to give access to a wider national and international
audience, as well as to the scientific community. With this purpose in mind, we
opted for access via the Mirador Viewer. This viewer enables digital
images to be displayed within a working environment and at very high
resolution, facilitating the comparison between different images, for example.
In addition we gave a great deal of consideration to the need for the
long-term preservation of the digital images, which is one of the major
objectives of UNESCO. For this aspect, we were fortunate to be able to
appeal to the skills and experience of LIBIS (KU Leuven). The data were
uploaded to the Rosetta System, which ensures proper and effective
archiving, preservation and access to the files.
To extend this improved availability to the international level, access to
the digitised Codex Eyckensis will be provided via the portals of Europeana
and Erfgoedplus, and through www.museamaaseik.be.
In addition to the Codex Eyckensis, there is another, lesser-known
10th-century Gospel Book held in the depository of the Maaseik Museums. This
manuscript as well has been digitised and made available to the scientific
community. Recently professor Vanderputten from the University of Ghent has
examined this manuscript on site. He agrees that making documents available in
digital form would make it easier to study and examine them more efficiently.