A SEVENTH Century book associated with one of the North-East’s greatest saints could soon be displayed in the region.

The British Library, Durham University and Durham Cathedral hope to raise £2.75m to buy the St Cuthbert Gospel, sister to the famous Lindisfarne Gospels, from its Jesuit owners.

If successful, the manuscript would be housed half the time at Durham’s World Heritage Site and half at the British Library.

The Latin manuscript of the four gospels that Cuthbert carried with him, formerly known as the Stonyhurst Gospel, is the earliest surviving intact European book.

It complements the Lindisfarne Gospels, which are also strongly linked to St Cuthbert.

It was produced in the North-East and was buried with the saint on Lindisfarne in 698AD, and found in his coffin in Durham Cathedral in 1104.

The National Heritage Memorial Foundation (NHMF) has given £4.5m to the fundraising campaign and other money is in the pipeline, leaving £2.75m to be raised to hit the £9m purchase price by March 31.

The Very Reverend Michael Sadgrove, Dean of Durham, said: “This is a wonderful book that links us directly to the Saxon Christianity of the North of England, and to the North’s best-loved saint, Cuthbert himself.

“Durham Cathedral owes its very existence to him, and we prize not only his memory, but also the treasures associated with him here at the cathedral, such as his pectoral cross and portable altar.

“I wholeheartedly welcome and support the campaign to save this book for the nation, for it is a vital part of our cultural and spiritual heritage.

“Like the Lindisfarne Gospel Book, the Cuthbert Gospel speaks powerfully about Northumbria’s golden age, whose spiritual vision, intellectual energy and artistic achievement continue to inspire us today.

“We are in the British Library’s debt for having taken this initiative. We must make sure it succeeds.”

The gospel has been on long-term loan to the British Library since 1979 from owner the Society of Jesus (British Province).

Durham City Labour MP Roberta Blackman-Woods said: “It is excellent that the gospels have been saved for the nation.

“But we especially welcome the fact that as they have a particular resonance for the North-East – half of their display will take place in the region.”