Adventures in Bookland: Life of St Columba by Admonan of Iona

This book of marvels is itself a marvel. Marvellous firstly because we have so few voices from the seventh century; there’s basically Bede and Adomnan. Marvellous secondly for the miracles attached to Columba’s life. In these prosaic times, it’s salutary to read of a time of miracles. Marvellous thirdly for the extraordinary scholarship that went into this book. The translator and editor, Richard Sharpe, is exemplary in both functions. The introduction is one of the best introductions to northern Britain and Ireland in the early Medieval period I have ever read. Then the notes that accompany the text illuminate almost every aspect of seventh-century life. In this, the modern-day scholar exemplifies the dedication to scholarship of these early Irish monks – St Columba would have been proud.

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