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New discoveries from Iona in the Viking Age: Are laying ‘zombie narrative’ / bloody history to rest

Manwon Lender

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Iona was the most famous of all early ‘Celtic’ island monasteries, founded by St Columba in AD 563 off the west coast of Scotland. It was known across Europe as a seat of learning and centre of artistic output of the highest order, playing a central role in the conversion of the Anglo-Saxons and Picts. And if you know anything else about Iona, it is probably that the religious community was brought to a sudden and catastrophic end by the Vikings, who subjected the monastery to a series of violent raids from 795 to 825.

Despite these attacks, though, the monastery was never abandoned. There is a wealth of evidence for the survival, and indeed flourishing, of the monastic community on Iona in the following decades and centuries. Yet the Iona story always seems to close with the blood-red curtain of the Viking raids. So compelling is this version of history, it persists in the face of an increasing body of evidence from history, archaeology, and art doesnt support the bloody history we once thought occurred.

Iona in the Viking Age: laying a ‘zombie narrative’ to rest | The Past (the-past.com)

Edited by Manwon Lender
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