Furnishing an early medieval monastery: new evidence from Iona

Campbell, E. , Batey, C., Murray, G. and Thickpenny, C. (2019) Furnishing an early medieval monastery: new evidence from Iona. Medieval Archaeology, 63(2), pp. 298-337. (doi: 10.1080/00766097.2019.1672301)

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Abstract

This paper describes and discusses the significance of a number of metalwork and glass finds from the important early medieval monastery on the island of Iona, Argyll and Bute, Scotland. The finds mainly come from previously unpublished excavations, especially those by Charles Thomas from 1956–63. They include unique items such as an 8th-century lion figurine, and a 12th-century human head, both in copper alloy. These finds attest, for the first time, to the production of complex ecclesiastical metalwork such as reliquaries at Iona, and are some of the few such items to be recovered from excavated contexts. Fragments of early medieval window glass demonstrate that the buildings of the early monastery were more sophisticated than previously believed, and moulds and a reticella rod indicate decorative glass-working. A number of copper-alloy pins, strap-fittings and other decorative pieces of 9th- and 10th-century date show significant Norse-period occupation, and probably continuing metalworking traditions throughout the early medieval period. Taken together, these new finds begin to reveal that Iona was furnished with richly decorated shrines and reliquaries similar in sophistication to the illustrated manuscripts and sculptured monuments known to have been produced in the monastery.

Item Type:Articles
Additional Information:This paper is published with financial assistance from Historic Environment Scotland. The authors gratefully acknowledge the HES for funding Open Access for this article.
Status:Published
Refereed:Yes
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Thickpenny, Cynthia Rose and Campbell, Dr Ewan and Batey, Dr Colleen
Authors: Campbell, E., Batey, C., Murray, G., and Thickpenny, C.
College/School:College of Arts > School of Humanities > Archaeology
Journal Name:Medieval Archaeology
Publisher:Taylor & Francis
ISSN:0076-6097
ISSN (Online):1745-817X
Published Online:21 November 2019
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2019 The Authors
First Published:First published in Medieval Archaeology 63(2):298-337
Publisher Policy:Reproduced under a Creative Commons License

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