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Celtic Christianity or Insular Christianity is a term referring broadly to the Early Medieval Christian practice that developed in Britainmarker and Irelandmarker before and during the sub-Roman period. During this period, the Roman withdrawal and the Anglo-Saxon invasion sharply reduced contact between the broadly Celtic peoples of the islands and other Christians in Continental Europe. In this relatively isolated environment distinctive practices began to emerge, first gaining widespread use in Ireland in the 5th century (though elements of the Celtic Rite may have been introduced to Ireland by the British St. Patrick), and spreading to Britain with the Irish mission system established by Saint Columba. Celtic Christianity may be distinguished by its organisation around monasteries rather than dioceses, and certain traditions, especially in matters of liturgy and ritual, that were different from those of the greater sub-Roman world.

The term "Celtic Christianity" is sometimes extended beyond the seventh century to describe later Christian practice in these areas. However, historians generally avoid this use of the term in this context because the histories of the Irish, Welsh, Scots, Breton, Cornish, and Manx Churches diverge significantly after the eighth century (resulting in a great difference between even rival Irish traditions). Furthermore, the term "Celtic Church", entails an inaccurate sense of there having been a unified and identifiable entity separated from the mainstream of Western Christendom.

This article discusses only historic Celtic Christianity. It does not address the modern forms of Christian doctrine and practice which call themselves "Celtic Church".

Identity and terminology

It is easy to exaggerate the cohesiveness of the Celtic Christian communities. Scholars have long recognised that the term "Celtic Church" is simply inappropriate to describe Christianity among Celtic-speaking peoples, since this would imply a notion of unity, or a self-identifying entity, that simply did not exist. As Patrick Wormald explained, “One of the common misconceptions is that there was a ‘Roman Church’ to which the ‘Celtic’ was nationally opposed.” Celtic-speaking areas were part of Latin Christendom as a whole, wherein a significant degree of liturgical and structural variation existed, along with a collective veneration of the Bishop of Rome that was no less intense in Celtic areas. Nonetheless, it is possible to talk about certain traditions present in Celtic-speaking lands, and the development and spread of these traditions, especially in the sixth and seventh centuries. Some scholars have chosen to apply the term ‘Insular Christianity’ to this Christian practice that arose around the Irish Seamarker, a cultural nexus in the sub-Roman period that has been called the ‘Celtic Mediterranean’. The term “Celtic Christianity” may also be employed simply in the sense of different Catholic practices, institutions, and saints amongst the Celtic peoples, in which case it could be used meaningfully well beyond the seventh century.

History

St. Patrick, Apostle to the Irish
As the most remote province of the Roman Empire, Britain was reached by Christianity in the first few centuries of the Christian era, with the first recorded martyr in Britain being St. Alban (during the reign of Diocletian). The process of Christianisation intensified following the legalization of the religion under Constantine in the 4th century, and its promotion by subsequent Christian emperors. In 407, the Empire withdrew its legions from the province to defend Italy from Visigothic attack. The city of Rome would be sacked in 410, and the legions did not permanently return to Britain. Thus, Roman governmental influence ended on the isle, and, with the subsequent decline of Roman imperial political influence, Britain and the surrounding isles developed distinctively from the rest of the West. The Irish Sea acted as a centre from which a new culture developed among the Celtic peoples, and Christianity acted centrally in this process.

What emerged, religiously, was a form of Insular Christianity, with certain distinct traditions and practices. The religion spread to Irelandmarker at this time, though the island had never been part of the Roman Empire, establishing a unique organization around monasteries, rather than episcopal dioceses. The highly successful 5th century mission to Ireland of Saint Patrick (the "Apostle to the Irish") established churches not monasteries, but his preferred form for these was as "cities" (civitates), like his own in Armaghmarker, in fact very small enclosures where a group of Christians (often of both sexes, and including the married), committed to service in various roles lived together and ministered to the population of a tribal territory or "kingdom".

During the late 5th and 6th centuries formally established monasteries became the most important centres of a newly invigorated Christianity; in Patrick's own see of Armagh the change seems to have happened before the end of the 5th century, thereafter the bishop was the abbot also. A similar process seems to have happened in Britain, though our knowledge of this period there is very limited, with the polemic of the monk Gildas against the evils of the kings and clergy of his day remaining the principal contemporary source. The middle decades of the 6th century seem to have been the period when monasticism triumphed, perhaps helped by a very severe plague in Ireland in 548/9, only a few years after the extreme weather events of 535–536. Most information comes from hagiographies of some centuries later, but it seems that Illtud and his pupils David, Gildas, Paul Aurelian, Samson, and Deiniol from the next generation, were leading figures in Britain, some of them also active in Brittany, then very much part of the Celtic world. In Ireland Finnian of Clonard is said to have trained the Twelve Apostles of Ireland at Clonard Abbey. Meanwhile, the Anglo-Saxon invasion of Britain from Frisia and other Germanic areas, took over much of the eastern part of the island and resulted in cultural hostility in Britain between the British and the (then pagan) English.

In the sixth and seventh centuries, Irish monks established monastic institutions in parts of modern day Scotland (especially Columba, also known as Colmcille or, in Old Irish, Colum Cille), and on the continent, particularly in Gaul (especially Columbanus). Monks from Iona, under St. Aidan, then founded the See of Lindisfarnemarker in Anglo-Saxon Northumbriamarker in 635, whence Celtic practice heavily influenced northern England. These renewed links with the greater Latin West brought the Celtic-speaking peoples into close contact with other subgroups of Catholicism. Thus, the issue of certain customs and traditions particular to Insular Christianity became, to an extent, a matter of dispute, especially the matter of the proper calculation of Easter. Synods were held in Ireland, Gaul, and England (e.g. the Synod of Whitby) where the Easter question was resolved, resulting in the adoption of one method for calculating Easter. A degree of variation continued, and to an extent was encouraged, evidenced by the issuance of a papal privilege by Pope Honorius to the Columbanus’s monastery of Bobbiomarker freeing the institution from Frankish episcopal oversight. Furthermore, the cultural exchange was mutual, evidenced by the spread of a uniquely Irish penitential system, eventually adopted as a universal practice of the Church by the Fourth Lateran Council of 1215.

At least in Ireland, the monastic system became increasingly secularised from the 8th century, as the dangers of the close ties between ruling families and monasteries became apparent. The major monasteries were now wealthy in land, and had political importance. On occasion they made war either upon each other, or took part in secular wars - a battle in 764 is supposed to have killed 200 from Durrow Abbey when they were defeated by Clonmacnoisemarker. From early periods the kin nature of many monasteries had meant that some married men were part of the community, supplying labour and with some rights, including in the election of abbots (but obliged to abstain from sex during fasting periods). Some abbacies passed from father to son, and then even grandsons. A revival of the ascetic tradition came in the second half of the century, with the culdee or "clients (vassals) of God" movement founding new monasteries detached from family groupings.

Other important Celtic saints, or saints who influenced the development of Christianity amongst the Celtic-speaking peoples, include SS. Dubricius, Cadoc, Petroc, Piran, Ia, Brigid, Moluag, Kentigern (aka Mungo), and Germanus of Auxerre.

Distinctive traditions

Because Celtic Christianity is a broad term, it is difficult to define precisely which practices diverged from the remainder of the Latin West except in a general sense. In any specific area there will be exceptions to the list that follows.

Episcopal structure

By the seventh century, the established ecclesiastical structure for Catholicism on the Continent consisted of one bishop for each diocese. The bishop would reside in a “see”, or a city able to support a cathedral. This structure was in part based on the secular administrative organisation of the Roman Empire, which had subdivided provinces into “dioceses” (see Roman province).

It was after Christianity had spread throughout the Empire, and especially after the advent of the Christian Emperor Constantine I, that dioceses had acquired an administrative function within the Church. Most of the Celtic world, however, had never been part of the Roman Empire, and even the exceptions of Walesmarker, Devonmarker, and Cornwallmarker were nonetheless without developed cities.

What emerged was a structure based around monastic networks ruled by abbots. These abbots were usually descended from one of the many Irish royal families, and the founding regulations of the abbey sometimes specified that the abbacy should if possible be kept within one family lineage. The nobility who ruled over different tribes, and whose sources of power were rural estates, integrated the monastic institutions they established into their royal houses and domains. Abbots were monastic, and thus were not necessarily ordained (i.e. they were not necessarily priests or bishops). Bishops were still needed, since certain sacramental functions were reserved only for the ordained; however, unlike on the Continent, these bishops had little authority within Celtic ecclesiastical structure; there were also non-monastic bishops, mostly attached to a royal household, but these usually had no authority over monasteries in their diocese. In the 12th century, the Irish monastic system was reorganised, with papal authority establishing four archbishoprics.

Rule of Columbanus

The monasteries of the Irish missions, and many at home, adopted the Rule of Saint Columbanus, which was stricter than the Rule of Saint Benedict, the main alternative in the West. In particular there was more fasting and an emphasis on corporal punishment. For some generations monks trained by Irish missionaries continued to use the Rule and to found new monasteries using it, but most converted to the Benedictine Rule over the 8th and 9th centuries.

Liturgical and ritual practices

Easter calculation

A distinguishing mark of Celtic Christianity was its distinct conservatism, even archaism. One example is their method of calculating Easter. Calculating the proper date of Easter was (and is) a complicated process involving a lunisolar calendar. Various tables were produced in antiquity that attempted to calculate Easter for a series of years. Insular Christianity used a calculation table (Celtic-84) that was similar to one approved by St. Jerome. However, by the sixth and seventh centuries it had become obsolete and had been replaced by those of Victorius of Aquitaine and, more accurately, those of Dionysius Exiguus. As the Celtic world established renewed contact with the Continent it became aware of the divergence; the first clash over the matter came in Gaul in 602, when Columbanus resisted pressure from the local bishops to conform. Most groups, like the southern Irish, accepted the updated tables with relatively little difficulty, with the last significant objectors being the monks from the monastery of Iona and its many satellite institutions. For example, the southern Irish accepted the common Easter calculation at the Synod of Mag Léne around 630, as did the northern Irish at the Council of Birr around 697, and Northumbria with the Synod of Whitby in 664. Nonetheless, in 716 Iona converted its practice.



Monastic tonsure

All monks, and apparently most or all clergy, of the period kept a distinct tonsure, or method of cutting one’s hair, to distinguish their social identity, and mark their rejection of worldly things. In Ireland men otherwise wore longish hair, and a shaved head was worn by slaves. The Celtic, or at least Irish, tonsure differed from that of the rest of the Western church (illustrated). The exact shape of the Celtic tonsure is unclear from the early sources, although they agree that the hair was in some way shorn over the head from ear to ear. In 1639 James Ussher suggested a semi-circular shape, rounded in the front and culminating at a line between the ears. This suggestion was accepted by many subsequent writers, but in 1703, Jean Mabillon put forth a new hypothesis, claiming that the entire forehead was shaven back to the ears. Mabillon's version was widely accepted, but contradicts the early sources. In 2003 Daniel McCarthy suggested a triangular shape, with one side between the ears and a vertex towards the front of the head.

The prevailing "Roman" custom was to shave a circle at the top of the head, leaving a halo of hair or corona; this was eventually associated with the imagery of Christ’s Crown of Thorns. The early material referring to the Celtic tonsure emphasizes its distinctiveness from the Roman alternative and invariably correlates its use to the Celtic dating of Easter. Those preferring the Roman tonsure considered the Celtic custom extremely unorthodox, and associated it with the form of tonsure worn by the heresiarch Simon Magus. This connection first appears in a 672 letter from Saint Aldhelm to King Geraint of Dumnonia, but it may have been circulating since the Synod of Whitby. The position of those holding to the Celtic custom is not recorded, but the Collectio canonum Hibernensis cites the authority of Saint Patrick as indicating that it originated with the swineherd of Lóegaire mac Néill, the king who opposed Patrick.

Penitentials

In Ireland a distinctive form of penance developed, where confession was made privately to a priest, under the seal of secrecy, and where penance was given privately and ordinarily performed privately as well. Certain handbooks were made, called “penitentials”, designed as a guide for confessors and as a means of regularising the penance given for each particular sin.

In antiquity, penance had been a public ritual. Penitents were divided into a separate part of the church during liturgical worship, and they came to mass wearing sackcloth and ashes in a process known as exomologesis that often involved some form of general confession. There is evidence that this public penance was preceded by a private confession to a bishop or priest (sacerdos), and it seems that, for some sins, private penance was allowed instead. Nonetheless, penance and reconciliation was prevailingly a public rite (sometimes unrepeatable), which included absolution at its conclusion.

The Irish penitential practice spread throughout the continent, where the form of public penance had fallen into disuse. St. Columbanus was credited with introducing the medicamenta paentitentiae, the “medicines of penance”, to Gaul at a time when they had come to be neglected. Though the process met some resistance, by 1215 the practice had become established as the norm, with the Fourth Lateran Council establishing a canonical statute requiring confession at a minimum of once per year.

Achievement

The achievements of Christianity in the Celtic-speaking world are significant beyond what could be expected. Irish society, for example, had no history of literacy until the introduction of Christianity, yet within a few generations of the arrival of the first missionaries the monastic and clerical class of the isle had become fully integrated with the culture of Latin letters. Besides just Latin, Irish ecclesiastics developed a written language for Old Irish. Likewise, they adapted the Christian episcopal structure to an environment that was wholly different from the prevailing sub-Roman world. Irish monks also founded monastic networks throughout Gaul (including the west of modern Germanymarker) and Northumbriamarker, exerting a profound influence greater than many Continental centres that could boast much more ancient traditions. One example is the spread of the cult of Peter within Gaul, which was largely the product of Irish influence, and the similar veneration for the papacy. Hence the first issuance of a papal privilege granting a monastery freedom from episcopal oversight was that of Pope Honorius I to Bobbio Abbeymarker, one of Columbanus's institutions. But perhaps the most specific lasting influence on the Western church was the development of the Irish penitential practice.

The achievements of insular art, in illuminated manuscripts like the Book of Kells, high crosses, and metalwork like the Ardagh Chalice remain very well-known, and in the case of manuscript decoration had a profound influence on Western medieval art. The manuscripts were certainly produced by and for monasteries, and the evidence suggests that metalwork was produced in both monastic and royal workshops, perhaps as well as secular commercial ones.

Myths and symbolism

Folk legend claims that Christianity in Britain was founded by St. Joseph of Arimathea at Glastonburymarker; legend also states that King Arthur is buried in his ruined abbeymarker. According to legend, Joseph was a tin merchant who was often coming and going to the tin mines of Roman Britain. Legend continues to say that he may have taken his nephew, Jesus, with him on some of these trips. This legend is referred to in "And did those feet in ancient time," by William Blake in 1804, and in the hymn "Jerusalem", with music written by C. Hubert H. Parry in 1916. By the 12th century, Joseph of Arimathea found a place in the Arthurian Cycle as the first keeper of the Holy Grail in Robert de Boron's Joseph d'Arimathie.

The notion of a "Celtic Church," and its nature, has been a continual source of disagreement and symbolism, beginning especially with the Protestant Reformation. Building upon older Benedictine claims regarding the age of Glastonbury Abbeymarker, Reformists put forth that the native British Church founded in Apostolic times preceded the Church of Rome. Some Roman Catholic apologists portray the idea of a separate tradition from that of Rome as an anachronism and mythological, for example, authors such as George Buchanan are suggested to have supplied “the initial propaganda for the makers of the Scottish Kirk” by inventing the notion of a national “Celtic” Church opposed to a “Roman” one. Any notion of a Celtic Church or unique tradition is completely rejected within the writings of some of these scholars. Patrick Wormald also stated that, “It is difficult to resist the impression that what Protestant Confessionalism did for the idea of a ‘Celtic’ church until the 1960s is now being done by ‘new age’ paganism,” based on notions of some sort of "Celtic spirituality" allegedly distinguished by a unique ‘closeness to nature’.

In varying degrees since the Reformation, the basis for an equally historical, but temporarily suppressed, Protestant church based on Celtic traditions has been asserted. The historical legitimacy of this is debatable, but its symbolism is clear and was used by previous anti-Roman movements such as the Lollards and followers of John Wyclif.

See also



References

  1. Patrick Wormald, "Bede and the 'Church of the English’", in The Times of Bede, ed. Stephen Baxter (Oxford: Blackwell Publishing, 2006), pp. 223-224 n. 1
  2. Kathleen Hughes, "The Celtic Church: Is This a Valid Concept?", O'Donnell lectures in Celtic Studies, University of Oxford 1975 (published in Cambridge Medieval Celtic Studies, 1 [1981], pp. 1-20).
  3. Wendy Davies, "The Myth of the Celtic Church", in The Early Church in Wales and the West, Oxbow Monograph, no. 16, edited by Nancy Edwards and Alan Lane, 12-21. Oxford: Oxbow, 1992.
  4. Dáibhí Ó Cróinín, Early Medieval Ireland 400-1200 (London, 1995); T. M. Charles-Edwards, Early Christians Ireland (Cambridge, 2000); W. Davies, ‘The Myth of the Celtic Church’, in N. Edwards and A. Lane, The Early Church in Wales and the West (Oxbow Monograph 16, Oxford, 1992), pp. 12-21; Kathleen Hughes, ‘The Celtic Church: is this a valid concept?’, in Cambridge Medieval Celtic Studies 1 (1981), pp. 1-20; Kathleen Hughes, The Church in Early English Society (London, 1966); W. Davies and P. Wormald, The Celtic Church (Audio Learning Tapes, 1980).
  5. Patrick Wormald, ‘Bede and the ‘Church of the English’’, in The Times of Bede, ed. Stephen Baxter (Oxford: Blackwell Publishing, 2006), p. 207.
  6. Richard Sharpe, ‘Some problems concerning the organization of the Church in early medieval Ireland’, Peritia 3 (1984), pp. 230-270; Patrick Wormald, ‘Bede and the ‘Church of the English’’, in The Times of Bede, ed. Stephen Baxter (Oxford: Blackwell Publishing, 2006), pp. 207-208, 220 n. 3
  7. Peter Brown, The Rise of Western Christendom, 2nd edition (Oxford, Blackwell Publishing, 2003), pp. 16, 51, 129, 132.
  8. Hughes (2005),306 & 310; Riley, 82-93, 95-96
  9. Ryan describes this process in great detail
  10. Ryan, 100-102
  11. Hughes (2005), 310-311
  12. Hughes (2005), 317
  13. Hughes (2005), 313, 316, 319
  14. Hughes (2005), 319-320
  15. This list includes information from Charles Plummer's essay, "Excursus on the Paschal Controversy and Tonsure" in his edition Venerablilis Baedae, Historiam Ecclesiasticam Gentis Anglorum, 1892 (Oxford: University Press, 1975), pp. 348-354.
  16. Ó Cróinín, Dáibhí in Youngs, pp. 13-14
  17. Eric John, ‘The Social and Political Problems of the Early English Church’, in Anglo-Saxon History: Basic Readings, ed. David A. E. Pelteret (New York & London: Garland Publishing, 2000), pp. 32-34.
  18. The main source for Columbanus's life or vita is recorded by Jonas of Bobbio, an Italian monk who entered the monastery in Bobbio in 618, three years after the saint's death; Jonas wrote the life c. 643. This author lived during the abbacy of Attala, Columbanus's immediate successor, and his informants had been companions of the saint. Mabillon in the second volume of his "Acta Sanctorum O.S.B." gives the life in full, together with an appendix on the miracles of the saint, written by an anonymous member of the Bobbio community.
  19. Patrick Wormald, Bede and the Church of the English, in The Times of Bede, ed. Stephen Baxter (Oxford, Blackwell Publishing, 2006), p. 224 n. 1.
  20. Eric John, The Social and Political Problems of the Early English Church, in Anglo-Saxon History: Basic Readings, ed. David A. E. Pelteret (New York & London: Garland Publishing, 2000), p. 34
  21. Ryan, p. 217.
  22. McCarthy, pp. 147–148
  23. McCarthy, p. 149.
  24. McCarthy, p. 146.
  25. McCarthy, p. 140.
  26. McCarthy, p. 141.
  27. McCarthy, pp. 142–143
  28. Medieval Handbooks of Penance, eds. John T. McNeil and Helena M. Gamer (New York, Columba University Press, 1938), p. 28
  29. Medieval Handbooks of Penance, eds. John T. McNeil and Helena M. Gamer (New York, Columba University Press, 1938), pp. 7-9
  30. Medieval Handbooks of Penance, eds. John T. McNeil and Helena M. Gamer (New York, Columba University Press, 1938), pp. 9-12.
  31. Medieval Handbooks of Penance, eds. John T. McNeil and Helena M. Gamer (New York, Columba University Press, 1938), pp. 13-17.
  32. Peter Brown, The Rise of Western Christendom, 2nd edition (Oxford: Blackwell Publishing, 2003), p. 252
  33. Eric John, ‘The Social and Political Problems of the Early English Church’, in Anglo-Saxon History: Basic Readings, ed. David A. E. Pelteret (New York & London: Garland Publishing, 2000), p. 36.
  34. Eric John, ‘The Social and Political Problems of the Early English Church’, in Anglo-Saxon History: Basic Readings, ed. David A. E. Pelteret (New York & London: Garland Publishing, 2000), p. 37.
  35. Nordenfalk, Pächt
  36. Youngs, 15-16, 125
  37. Patrick Wormald, ‘Bede and the ‘Church of the English’, in The Times of Bede, p. 207.
  38. Dáibhí Ó. Cróinín’s Early Medieval Ireland: 400-1200, T. M. Charles-Edwards’s Early Christian Ireland, W. Davies’s ‘The Myth of the Celtic Church’, and Kathleen Hughes’s ‘The Celtic Church: is this a valid concept?’ (her answer was, no), "The Celtic Church: Is This a Valid Concept?", O'Donnell lectures in Celtic Studies, University of Oxford 1975 (published in Cambridge Medieval Celtic Studies, 1 (1981), pp. 1-20; Wendy Davies, "The Myth of the Celtic Church", in The Early Church in Wales and the West, Oxbow Monograph, no. 16, edited by Nancy Edwards and Alan Lane, 12-21. Oxford: Oxbow, 1992, Patrick Wormald stated, “The idea that there was a ‘Celtic Church’ in something of a post-Reformation sense is still maddeningly ineradicable from the minds of students.”
  39. Patrick Wormald, ‘Bede and the ‘Church of the English’, in The Times of Bede, pp. 223-4 n1.
  40. Tuchman, B. (1978) A Distant Mirror Ballantine Books, New York. ISBN 0-345-34957-1


Bibliography

Primary sources

  • Adomnan, Life of Columba, ed. A. O. and M. O. Anderson, 2nd edition (Oxford Medieval Texts, 1991)
  • Annales Cambriae, ed. Rev. John Williams ab Ithel (London : Longman, Green, Longman and Roberts, 1860)
  • Bede, Historiam Ecclesiasticam Gentis Angelorum, in Venerabilis Baedae Opera Historica. ed. C. Plummer (Oxford, 1896)
  • Cummian, De controversia paschali and De ratione conputandi,
  • Gildas, De Excidio Brittaniae, ed. J. A. Giles, Six Old English Chronicles (London, 1848)
  • Historia Brittonum, ed. J. A. Giles, Six Old English Chronicles (London, 1848)
  • Medieval Handbooks of Penance, eds. J. T. McNeill and H. M. Gamer (New York: Columba University Press, 1939)
  • Patrick (Saint), Confessio, ed. and trans. John Skinner (Image, 1998)


Secondary sources

  • Brown, Peter. The Rise of Western Christendom: Triumph and Diversity, 2nd ed. (Oxford: Blackwell Publishing, 2003).
  • Cahill, Thomas. How the Irish Saved Civilization (Anchor, 1996). ISBN 0385418493
  • Charles-Edwards. T. M. Early Christian Ireland (Cambridge, 2000).
  • Cróinín, Dáibhí Ó. Early Medieval Ireland: 400-1200 (London, 1995).
  • Davies, Wendy. "The Myth of the Celtic Church", in The Early Church in Wales and the West, Oxbow Monograph, no. 16, edited by Nancy Edwards and Alan Lane, 12-21. (Oxford: Oxbow, 1992).
  • Dillard, John R. "The Celtic Apostolic Church - Brief History" (North Carolina, 2007).
  • Dillard, John R. "The Celtic Apostolic Church - Church History" (North Carolina, 2005).
  • Dillard, John R. "Purpose of Liturgical Worship" (North Carolina, 2005).
  • Dillard, John R. "What is Celtic Christianity?" (North Carolina, 2007).
  • Hughes, Kathleen. "The Celtic Church: Is This a Valid Concept?", O'Donnell lectures in Celtic Studies, University of Oxford 1975 (published in Cambridge Medieval Celtic Studies, 1 (1981), pp. 1–20.
  • Hughes, Kathleen. The Church in Early Irish Society (London, 1966).
  • "Hughes (2005)". Hughes, Kathleen, in Ó Cróinín, Dáibhí (ed), A New History of Ireland: Prehistoric and early Ireland, Oxford University Press, 2005, ISBN 0198217374, 9780198217374 Google books
  • Mayr-Harting, Henry. The Coming of Christianity to Anglo-Saxon England, 3rd edition (London: B. T. Batsford Ltd, 1991).
  • Nordenfalk, Carl. Celtic and Anglo-Saxon Painting: Book illumination in the British Isles 600–800. New York: George Braziller, 1977.
  • Otto Pächt, Book Illumination in the Middle Ages (trans fr German), 1986, Harvey Miller Publishers, London, ISBN 0199210608
  • Ryan, John. Irish Monasticism, Origins and Early Development, Talbot Press, Dublin, 1931
  • Sharpe, Richard Sharpe. ‘Some problems concerning the organization of the Church in early medieval Ireland’, Peritia 3 (1984).
  • Wormald, Patrick. The Times of Bede: Studies in Early English Christian Society and its Historian, ed. Stephen Baxter (Oxford: Blackwell Publishing, 2006).
  • Susan Youngs (ed), "The Work of Angels", Masterpieces of Celtic Metalwork, 6th–9th centuries AD, 1989, British Museum Press, London, ISBN 0714105546


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