I am presenting that the International Conference of Historical Geographers 2015 in London as part of the Topographies of piety: Maps, texts, icons and pilgrimage sessions. I am returning to the subject matter of my MA in history, which had a strong geographical emphasis. Here’s the abstract for my piece.
Peregrinatio, sanctity and place in the early Celtic Church: St Adomnán’s writings on St Columba and the Holy Land in the seventh century
Using the writings of St Adomnán, the abbot of Iona in the Inner Hebrides isles, Scotland (679–704AD), I consider how the early Celtic Church in Britain and Ireland developed distinct conceptions of the sanctity of person and place, which contributed to the emergence of Christian pilgrimage within these islands during the early medieval period. This paper is based on comparative analysis of his Vita Columbae (the Life of St Columba), which outlines the virtues and deeds of the saintly founder of the monastery on Iona, and De Locis Sanctis (On Holy Places), an account of travels to the Holy Land based on the testimony of Arculf, a Frankish bishop. It also builds on discussions of the Celtic idea of peregrinatio, the role of hagiography in the creation of spiritual landscapes and debates on the nature of sacred locations within Christianity. Through these texts, I explore how clerics from Britain and Ireland understood their spiritual and geographical place within the world, and how the figure of the saint was central to the sanctification of locations at the edge of the earth.