A new approach to analysis of interlace in the Book of Kells

Sayandeep Purkayasthyz, Roger Stalley, John Dinglianay, Laura Cleaver

School of Computer Science and Statistics

Trinity College Dublin School of Histories and Humanities, Trinity College Dublin

Interlace or knotwork is one of the commonest of stylistic elements of traditional designs in medieval and pre-medieval Insular manuscripts such as the Book of Kells. In fact, it is found not only in written works, but also in sculpture, architecture, and used as motifs in articles of clothing and accessories to this day. We explore computer vision methods that may be used to quantitatively analyse a piece of interlace, with the specic goal of extracting key points of interest and representing it structurally in a way that allows aesthetic analysis. This method may be similarly used for the study of interlace in similar manuscripts with signicantly less manual eort. We also develop a few semi-heuristic metrics that may provide insight into some art historical questions regarding this class of design, including intentionality versus human error and the use of mechanical or optical aids in the production of such designs. We take a closer look at some instances of interlace in the Book of Kells, with the hope to provide art historians with a set of tools to look at interlace faster and more objectively than possible before.

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