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L’environnement des églises et la topographie religieuse des campagnes médiévales

Michel Fixot
Elisabeth Zadora-Rio

Chapitre 2. Lieux de culte et peuplement rural

2.1. Ecclesiastical settlement in Ireland in the early medieval period

2.1 Ecclesiastical settlement in Ireland in the early Medieval period

2.1 L’habitat ecclésiastique en Irlande dans le haut Moyen Âge

Leo Swan


Certains éléments des sites monastiques qui sont apparus en Irlande à partir du viie s. sont encore identifiables dans le paysage actuel : c’est le cas, en particulier, de l’enceinte monastique, constituée d’un rempart de terre ou d’un mur de pierre sèche de tracé circulaire ou ovale ; des vestiges du lieu de culte, parfois remplacés par une église plus récente, du cimetière, souvent abandonné mais parfois encore en usage. Bon nombre d’enceintes monastiques disparues ont laissé une empreinte durable dans la voirie urbaine ou le parcellaire rural. Une première enquête a permis d’inventorier environ 500 sites de ce type, mais les recherches en cours permettent d’évaluer leur nombre total à 3 000 ou plus. Les fouilles indiquent que la principale période d’occupation de ces sites se situe entre le vie et le xe s., avec des exemples fréquents de continuité d’utilisation jusqu’aux xiiexiiie s.

Texte intégral

2.1.1 The predominance of monks

1When considering any aspect of Early Irish Christianity it is necessary to outline in some measure the uniqueness of the manner of its development here between the fifth and tenth centuries. It is almost axiomatic that this is to a great extent due to the fact that Ireland was perhaps the First country lying outside the influence of imperial Rome, to which the Christian message was introduced. Thus, it is contended, that in the absence of the regional administrative structure which was the norm for provinces within the Empire, Christianity here was faced with the task of evolving its own structures, by means of which the Church could fulfil its mission.

2The picture portrayed in the document known as The First Synod of St. Patrick (Binchy 1968), evidenced as dating from the earlier part of the 6th century, reflects a Christianity still struggling to establish itself in a predominantly pagan society. The document consists of thirty “Canons” or ordinances governing the behavior and attitudes of Christians. It deals explicitly with bishops, lesser clergy and the laity, in their behavior with each other and with the world. In four instances relationships with pagans are referred to. For example, Canon 8 protects the church from any responsibility in instances where a cleric stands surety for any amount for a pagan. Again, Canon 14 prohibits Christians from swearing “before a soothsayer, in the manner of pagans”. From this document too the church is seen to be strongly hierarchical in its organization, with strict regulations governing the position and status of each cleric, and always emphasizing the pre‑eminence of the bishop within his own diocese (parruchia). A century or so later the impression which emerges is that of a church which admits of considerable diversity of types and grades of ecclesiastical establishments. The Liber Angeli or Book of the Angel, which is found in the Book of Armagh and is generally dated to the 7th century, lists three grades or classes of churches then presumably in common use (Hughes 1966 : 275‑81). Firstly, there is the Ecclesia libera, a free church, unattached to any of the monastic federations, and free of any obligations deriving from tenancy or occupancy of its site. Secondly, there is the Civitas ab aepiscopali gradu, or city of episcopal rank and the church attached thereto. Finally, there are those churches which are titled “domnach” (dominicus), an appellation which seems to reflect an early Foundation. As well as these three grades there are numerous references to other classes of churches and chapels, referred to as cellae and capellae. Furthermore, there are frequent and explicit references to monasteries, highlighting a fundamental and as yet unresolved problem. In the words of Sharpe in a recent study (Sharpe 1984): “How monastic was the monastic church” ? It may well be the case that the matter is largely one of terminology, and that in many instances the demarcation between church and monastery was more in the area of perception rather than of actuality. In this context it is worth comparing the ecclesiastical structures in Ireland and in Wales during the period under consideration.

3In the early 6th century, as far as can be determined the churches in both areas were based on territorially definable units, but from the late 6th century onwards they developed in very different ways. In Wales the monasteries generally remained under the control of bishops within a recognised diocesan structure, but in Ireland a truly recognisable diocesan structure did not emerge until it was deliberately and with considerable opposition imposed after the 11th century. For the intervening centuries the Irish church evolved in a uniquely insular manner, centering on a number of great monastic houses, each exerting and exercising its exclusive authority within its own familia.

4The term paruchia or, as it was used in the First Synod of Patrick already referred to above, parruchia, was originally used in the sense of diocese, or district which was under the authority of a bishop. However, by the time of the writing of the Life of St. Brigit by Cogitosus (Vita st. Brigitae), which was scarcely much later than 650 A.D., it is already being used to describe a family of churches, not in a territorially definable region such as a diocese, but a family of churches “attached to (Brigit) in many provinces” and “reaching from sea to sea”. From a slightly later date Adomnan writes of the monastic federation of St. Colmcille, sometimes referred to as the familia, which included both churches and monastic settlements in the provinces of Ulster, Leinster and Connacht, as well as in those parts of Scotland which were under the influence of Iona (Reeves 1857).

5Among the more significant paruchiae were those of Patrick of Armagh, Brigit of Kildare, Colmcille of Iona, Ciaran of Clonmacnoise, Finnian of Clonard, Comgall of Bangor, Brendan of Clonfert, Maedoc of Ferns and Enda of Aran. These great paruchiae exercised an influence throughout the whole country, far beyond the confines of any single tuath or kingdom. In such instances the administrative fonction and full coercive powers, which were indeed extensive, lay in the hands of the abbot, which very title is in fact recognised as deriving from Irish usage. He was designated heir (heres) or comarba of the founding saint, and as such even the secular laws recognised that to him pertained all the privileges, properties and powers of the founder. Familial succession was an important feature of this System, whereby the comarba was in almost all cases selected from the blood line of the founder, often over many centuries, thereby ensuring continuity and considerable enhancement of his authority.

6Nevertheless, it is accepted that at no time did the monastic System become exclusively dominant. A number of smaller churches, perhaps nominally associated with one or other of the great paruchiae, but lacking any formal monastic characteristics, would have served the spiritual needs of people throughout much of the countryside. Such an ecclesiastical establishment with its small community of mostly laypeople would in many respects have been virtually indistinguishable from the normal secular settlement of the period, apart from its size, and the occurrence of a church and probably an area for burial. Archaeological evidence would appear to confirm this view, with the existence of many hundreds of enclosed ecclesiastical sites in all parts of the country, for which there is no known monastic connection, and where excavation has failed to reveal such. Even as late as the 11th century when the Life of Colmcille which is contained in the Leabhar Breac was written, it appears that a distinction was still recognised between churches and monasteries, where reference is made to the founding of “many churches and monasteries” in the province of Connacht ( cor fothaig cella & congbala immda").

7By the 8th century then, the church in Ireland was organised in a manner which was quite distinctive, based as it was on the monastic paruchiae. Each paruchia was under the direction of an abbot or comarba, who in the early or mid 7th century might also have been a bishop, but who by now was not necessarily even ordained in major orders. Such an ecclesiastic however would have been accorded an extraordinarily high status in Irish society, perhaps comparable to that of a continental “Prince‑Bishop” in medieval Europe. The status of the bishop in this period is by no means clear, and may have varied considerably from one region to another, but as Kenney points out, he was still accorded his “prerogatives of highest ecclesiastical dignity” and retained “his sacramental fonctions” (Kenney 1929). As Sharpe has recently concluded, he also probably retained some administrative jurisdiction over the smaller unattached ecclesiastical establishments referred to above (Sharpe 1984). His powers within the paruchia, however, were strictly sacerdotal, and any administrative fonction allowed was extremely limited. It is important to note that relationships between the various paruchiae were generally uneasy. Frequently they found themselves in competition with each other for the allegiance of the unaligned churches, or manifested predatory designs on smaller or weaker paruchiae. A consistent policy of expansionism on the part of the more vigourous of the paruchiae at the expense of the weaker tended towards a consolidation of power, already manifest in the enormous prestige of the comarba. This was considerably enhanced by the close connections, generally based on a family relationship between the ruling family of the paruchia and the local ruling dynasty. In addition, as Doherty States, “the church had control of manpower which must have been the envy of kings”, and no doubt the prudent management of resources would have encouraged the concentration of wealth as well as power in the hands of the monastic rulers (Doherty 1984). Thus, by the end of the eight century the great Irish monastic houses had achieved almost complete spiritual dominance, had acquired a great measure of political influence and had established themselves as a major factor in the economic life of the country as a whole.

2.1.2 The enclosures

8The study of the archaeology of these early monasteries has as a rule depended heavily on a relatively small number of well documented examples, some if not all of which had been repeatedly plundered and looted over the centuries, many subsequently falling into disuse. Others have been absorbed into our towns and villages, so that the monastic remains together with their burial grounds provide a focus around which later settlement and development took place. Most have witnessed continuous and extensive burial in recent and modem times, together with repeated reconstruction of churches and other structures, so obscuring or rendering inaccessible whatever evidence might have survived. It is difficult to recognize early phases of activity in general, although such are most likely to have survived in the case of the smaller, more remote sites, and in particular those located on islands. These will have been preserved in large measure by their very remoteness, and not infrequently by their relative insignificance even in ancient times. Furthermore, even though most buildings from this period whether ecclesiastical or secular, were constructed in timber and thus highly perishable, the island sites as a rule favoured stone buildings and so increased the likelihood of their survival. Although not necessarily typical, sites such as Skellig Michael and Long Island off the Keriy coast, Inish Gloire and the Inishkea islands lying west front Belmullet, and Inishmurray in Sligo Bay provide us with a fascinating glimpse of the Early Irish monastic foundation. In all of these, and indeed in many more, remains survive of various features and structures such as churches and oratories, beehive‑shaped huts or “clochans”, cross shaped or cross inscribeds slabs, bullaun stones, and souterrains. Always a burial area may be identified, and occasionally, there is evidence for special graves or shrines, frequently associated with the founding saint.

9Where early sites have survived to form the cores of villages, towns or cities, some obvious examples can be cited from many, as for instance Killeigh in Co. Offaly, Duleek and Kells in Co. Meath, Lusk and Clondalkin in Co. Dublin, and particularly Armagh. In each of these, aerial photographs reveal evidence of enclosures, either in the remnants of enclosing banks as in Killeigh, the circular or oval pattern of roadways and laneways as in Duleek (fig. 1), or in the more or less circular Street patterns, continued in the lines of property boundaries, best examplified in the layout of the present‑day city of Armagh. Here, the ecclesiastical core represented by the cathedral within its burial ground can be seen to form the focus around which the Street pattern together with lines of property boundaries describe not one, but two great, enclosing, concentric ovals. This arrangement is quite consistent with die manner of founding and laying out an ecclesiastical enclosure as described in Tirechan’s 7th century life of Patrick, and with the account of Armagh as a large and populous city contained in the Liber Angeli referred to already. It is also recognisable in the 17th century map of Armagh by Bartlett which vividly portrays the city as he knew it.

FIG. 1 Duleek : plan

M. Henry del. / dAf

10Something similar can be seen in the photographs of Lusk, Kells and Clondalkin, where the probable lines of the monastic enclosures, still reflected in the street‑roadway‑property boundary pattern, can be seen to contain within a circular or oval circumference, the more modern church building with occasional medieval or earlier remains. Included among these are the ruined 15th century abbey at Duleek, with its fragments of a round tower, and the round towers at Kells and Clondalkin. These structures are themselves generally located within more recent burial grounds, and in some, but not all instances, contain other early fragments such as the stone‑built church and high crosses at Kells, and the cross fragments and grave slab at Duleek. The round towers provide the best structural evidence for early monasteries in each of these, that at Lusk being incorporated into the medieval church tower as one of the four corner towers, while that at Duleek survives merely as a negative impression visible in the north wall of the medieval tower.

11The general pattern of the early sites displayed in the above examples is repeated many times over in villages and towns throughout the country. Some of these such as Tuam, Co. Galway, which in the early 12th century had a “caistel” or “caislen”, Cashel, Co. Tipperary, which was able to resist repeated attempts by the resurgent Irish to destroy or capture it in the later medieval period, and Kildare, which by the early 13th century had been established as an Anglo‑Norman manor and borough, showed signs of developing as provincial urban centres at an early stage. In many cases they were selected as the episcopal sees of the reorganised diocese in the early 12th century, or attracted major foundations of the newly introduced continental religious orders, and by the mid 15th century, there were few of them which did not have a medieval castle or tower house. These have as their cores the site of tire early monastery, and their present day Street patterns clearly reflect to some extern the lines of their ancient enclosures. There are however many more sites with similar origins, which did not develop into modern towns and villages, and these too are found in every part of the country. Occasionally they are well known and well documented early monasteries, now isolated and deserted, unused except perhaps for burial. Frequently the extent or layout of the early Foundation, and sometimes even the precise location, are matters of conjecture. In many such cases, aerial photography can help, and may add considerably to the meagre topographical evidence available. Typical examples are Monasterboice, Co. Louth, and Durrow, Co. Offaly. At Monasterboice aerial photography revealed the line of an enclosing bank and ditch, now almost completely levelled, curving from the west around to the south and east. As a result, it was possible to suggest a reconstruction of the probable line of the early enclosure. It seems to have been a large, regular, oval enclosure, upwards of 300 m in diameter along its north/south axis, having the church remains, crosses, cross slabs, round tower and burial ground centrally located within it. Now intersected by a modern roadway, a complex of laneways and boundary lines to the north‑east still closely follow the line of the early enclosure.

12Durrow likewise is a well known and richly documented Columban site, of which little more than the later medieval church, much reconstructed, now survives. A splendid high cross, some cross fragments and inscribed grave slabs are also preserved here. The celebrated Book of Durrow, also associated with this monastery is presently in the library of Trinity College, Dublin. The aerial photograph taken in the summer of 1986 shows clearly the curving arc of the enclosure, swinging from the west around to the south and east. The complementary line of the enclosure to the north‑east and north may be deduced from the low earthworks visible here, and from the line of the field fence, so that almost the complete circumference is recognisable. In this instance, the burial ground which contains the crosses and carved slabs lies to the east of the enclosure and just inside the perimeter. Other sites which conform to this pattern are Clonmacnoise, Co. Offaly, Glendalough, Co. Wicklow, Ardpatrick, Co Limerick, and Feenagh, Co. Leitrim, in each of which an early monastic core has been extensively reused in medieval and later times for worship and for burial, but where, with the help of aerial photography it is possible to recreate the extent of the original monastic settlement.

13There is still another class of site which can now be identified, and which is perhaps the most numerous of all our ecclesiastical remains. These are poorly documented, and usually a connection with a monastic house or paruchia is difficult to establish. The main evidence for an early date may well depend on the traditional name or dedication, the existence of a holy well, some carved or worked stones or slabs, or merely the continued tradition of burial within the graveyard, which may also contain the abandoned and ruined remains of a later medieval church. Aerial photography and detailed ground inspection will often recover evidence of the early enclosure, if only as a cropmark or soil mark. Taken together with the other types they provide a comprehensive picture of ecclesiastical settlement in Early Christian Ireland. Because of the paucity of physical remains, they can frequently only be identified by aerial photography, and this technique has added greatly to the number known. Examples of such sites are common in all parts of the country, and indicate that ecclesiastical settlements were much more numerous than has generally been recognised. Typical examples are sites such as Kilpatrick and Taghboyne in Co. Westmeath, Kilclonfert in Co. Offaly, Knockatemple in Co. Mayo and Addergoole in Co. Galway. None of these has sufficient early documentation to associate it with one or other of the paruchiae or monastic houses, but the recognition of the eccclesiastical enclosure within which lies the burial ground and whatever other fragmentary remains survive, brings these and many hundreds of similar sites into the context of Early Christian settlement. When excavated they invariably reveal evidence of Early Christian occupation, as at Killedardadrum in Co. Tipperary.

14All of these sites, whether they are large, urban centres such as Kells, or unknown, abandoned rural sites such as Kilpatrick, display a surprising degree of consistency in form and layout, and have a significant number of features in common. Visually, the most striking is the enclosure itself, which may vary from under 35 m in diameter to over 500 m, consistently conforms to the circular or oval pattern. Often larger sites will have a double enclosure, an inner and outer, as in the case of Armagh. These would appear to correspond to the suburbana, referred to by Doherty in his examination of the literature which refers to the layout of the early monasteries (Doherty 1984). Here we see a civitas or city based on an idealised form with the holiest place at the centre and surrounded by areas of sanctuary decreasing in holiness as one moved outward from the centre. This also allowed for the “priestly elite at the centre with the laity on the periphery”. Thus the inner enclosure was reserved for sacred worship and other religious functions, while the outer enclosure allowed for more secular or profane activities of normal day to day living.

2.1.3 The “monastic city”

15The enclosure or enclosures are invariably focussed on the church or church site, which in turn is generally located within the burial area. The church itself, rectangular in shape, is aligned east‑west, having in the case of earlier buildings its doorway in the west wall. Where its position can be determined, the altar is always at the east end of the church, and here too, in the early churches is the single window. The adoption of the rectilinear church plan with western entrance and altar to the east, apparently universally throughout the country, represents a dramatic break with long established tradition. For many centuries prior to this, and even until the earliest Viking settlements as Wallace has shown, the standard house plans were invariably circular. Nevertheless, even in the literature, the rectilinear plan appears to have been the norm. In Tirechan we read that when Patrick went to the territory of Conmaicne, he “established in it rectilinear churches”, (et posuit in ea aecleso sias quadratas) (Vita st. Patriciae 147).

16The description of the “monastic city”, the “greatest and most celebrated monastery of Saint Brigit”, (presumably Kildare), in Cogitosus, is also relevant (Vita st. Brigitae). This “vast and metropolitan city [...] with its suburbs, which Brigit had marked out by a definite boundary”, is described in some detail. Among its many wonders, the first is the fact that it is not encircled by a surrounding wall, obviously a most unusual matter, as though such a surrounding wall were a universal feature. That there was some form of inner enclosure is evident from the reference to “the ornate cashel which surrounds the church where many people congregate”. There is also a fascinating description of the rebuilt church “a new reality in an age‑old setting that is a church with its spacious site and its awesome height towering upwards”. This “cathedral church” with its tripartite internal divisions, its sanctuary area reserved for “the archbishop with his monastic chapter and those appointed to the sacred mysteries”, with strict segregation of the sexes, each in its own area and separated by partitions, is strongly and strangely reminiscent of the type of basilica which was beginning to emerge as a standard pattern in eastern christendom in the 5th century. A notable example is the church of St. John Studion, in Constantinople, dated to the mid 5th century. Here excavation has revealed a rectangular structure, aligned east/west, with vestibule and entrance to the west, the altar underneath a window to the east on a raised platform, beneath which in an ossuary were the relies of a saint. Here in this sanctuary area behind the altar was the bishop’s throne, and here too the non participating clergy sat. In front of the sanctuary and projecting into the nave was the area reserved for the choir, while the nave itself was reserved for those in minor orders. The main body of the congregation was confined to the side aisles, men to the south, women to the north. Catechumens and penitents remained outside in the vestibule. The emphasis on the position of the relies both here and in many other eastern churches from this early period, for example, St. Demetrios in Salonika, brings to mind again the description of St. Brigit’s cathedral, where “the glorious bodies of both Archbishop Conleth and our most flourishing virgin Brigit are laid on the right and left of the ornate altar, and rest in tombs adorned with a refined profusion of gold, silver, gems and precious stones”.

17In the case of the early Irish ecclesiastical site, other structures and features too had their allotted positions. The round tower, for example, was located to the west of the church, having its doorway facing towards that of the church, while the burial area was positioned south of the church. Herity has concluded that this originally was an open area, the platea, the focal point of which was a cross or cross slab and a shrine or founder’s tomb, perhaps intended as a public place or place of assembly (Herity 1977). Other features of the monastic complex might have been the abbots house or residence, which according to MacDonald may have had its own enclosure within the monastic vallum, and the tech mor”, or great house, which again according to Mac Donald may have been “the principal domestic building of the monastic layout” (Mac Donald, Laing 1967‑68). It must be noted however, that excavation has not yet yielded unambiguous evidence for either of these features. Where inner and outer enclosure can be identified, the significant features and structures are found disposed around the church within the inner enclosure. This strengthens the concept, referred to already that the outer enclosure was identified with secular or domestic usage. The sacred nature of the inner core would have prohibited its use for commerce, industry or domestic activity, and yet these in some way were at the very heart of the monastic community, essential to its wellbeing, its prosperity, its prestige and its advancement. In this context O’Corrain discusses the “manaig”, “the tenantry of church lands... occupying an intermediate position between clergy and laity” (O’Corrain 1981). For these, the outer enclosure may well have provided both a dwelling area and place of work. Most excavations of monastic sites have yielded ample evidence of food production, iron manufacture, metalworking, trade, and normal domestic activity.

18A holy well is consistently to be found associated with these sites and it is not unusual to find two, three or more. These are seldom found within the enclosure, and may be sited at some considerable distance (fig. 2). In larger sites, the church remains and burial ground tend to be centrally located, but in the case of smaller sites, the south‑east quadrant is favoured, while island sites are regularly located in the south‑east sector of the island, close to the shore. Where the entrance to a site can be identified, it is usually found to be located to the east, and in many instances can be shown to have been marked by a cross, an “entrance cross”, perhaps.

FIG. 2 Oldtown : plan

M. Henry del. / dAf

2.1.4 The numbers

19Thus it emerges, that contrary to a widely‑held view, there was, if not a plan, at least a general pattern almost universally accepted, to which the lay‑out of our early monastic sites seems to have conformed (fig. 3). Similar features and arrangements are commonly noted in areas overseas where Irish Christianity is found. Iona and Whithorn in Scotland, and Jurby in the Isle of Man may be cited as examples.

FIG. 3 – Reconstitution des enceintes de 12 sites monastiques irlandais. 1 Armagh ; 2 Kells (Co. Meath) ; 3 Kildare ; 4 Tuam ; 5 Lusk ; 6 Cashell ; 7 Killala ; 8 Finglas ; 9 Monasterboice ; 10 Lorrha ; 11 Glendalough ; 12 Downpatrick. Ces reconstitutions sont fondées sur le tracé des rues actuelles et sur les résultats de la photographie aérienne : trait continu : enceinte ; pointillés : zone d’inhumation

M. Henry del. / dAf

20The total numbers of early sites are difficult to establish, and estimates vary from about 145 in a publication from 1931 to over 800 listed in 1970 (fig. 4). A distribution map of ecclesiastical sites with enclosures compiled between 1968 and 1971, based on aerial reconnaissance and map searches, includes over 600 sites throughout the whole country. However, more recent work indicates that total numbers are likely to be far greater. For example, there are now reckoned to be about 100 sites in Co. Westmeath alone, with proportionately similar numbers in Clare, Limerick, Sligo, Louth and Dublin. Extrapolating from these figures and taking into account work recendy completed in other areas, the total numbers for the country as a whole are unlikely to be less than 2000 and may well be significantly greater.

FIG. 4 – Répartition des enceintes monastiques

M. Henry del. / dAf

21It is not presumed that all the sites included in these numbers are strictly monastic, even within the terms which could appropriately be used in the context of Ireland between the 5th and 11th centuries. Neither is it probable that all were in use simultaneously, nor that their use continued in all cases over the whole of this period. Nevertheless, the picture that emerges is one of a populous community of religious foundations showing considerably diversity in origin and form, but with a striking unity in function, organisation and plan, which evolved in a manner unique in Christendom, and which survived many vicissitudes until overwhelmed by the changing circumstances of the 11th and 12th centuries in Ireland.



Binchy 1968 : BINCHY (D.A.). — St. Patrick’s First Synod. Studia Hibernica, 8, 1968, p. 49‑59.

Crawford 1933 : CRAWFORD (O.G.S.). — Iona. Antiquity, 7, 1933, p. 453‑467.

Doherty 1984 : DOHERTY (C.). — The Basilica in Early Ireland. Peritia, 3, 1984, p. 303‑315.

Fanning 1981 : FANNING (T.). — Excavation of an Early Christian cemetery and settlement at Reask, Co. Kerry. Proceedings of the Royal Irish Academy, 810, 1981, p. 3‑172.

Herity 1977 : HERITY (M.). — The High Island hermitage. Irish University Review, 7, 1977, p. 52‑69.

Hughes 1966 : HUGHES (K.). — The Church in Early Irish Society. London, 1966.

Hughes 1981 : HUGHES (K.). — The Celtic Church: Is this a Valid Concept? Medieval Celtic Studies, 1, 1981, p. 1‑20.

Kenney 1929 : KENNEY (J.F.). — The Sources for the Early History of Ireland : an Introduction and Guide, vol. 1. Columbia : Ecclesiastical, 1929.

MacDonald, Laing 1967‑68 : MAC DONALD (A.), LAING (L.R.). — Early ecclesiastical sites in Scotland: a field survey (part 1). Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, 100, 1967‑1968, p. 123‑134.

Norman, St. Joseph 1969 : NORMAN (E.R.), ST. JOSEPH (J.K.S.). — The Early Development of Irish Society: The Evidence of Aerial Photography. Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1969.

O’Corrain 1981 : O’CORRAIN (D.). — The Early Irish Churches, Some Aspects of Organisation. In : O’CORRAIN (D.) dir. — Irish Antiquity. Cork: Tower Books, 1981, p. 327‑342.

O’Donovan 1851 : O’DONOVAN (J.) ed. — Annals of the Kingdom of Ireland by the Four Masters from the Earliest Period to the Year 1616. Dublin: Hodges and Smith, 1851.

Picard 1982 : PICARD (J.M.). — The Purpose of Adamnan’s Vita Columbae. Peritia, 1, 1982, p. 160‑177.

Reeves 1857 : REEVES (W.) ed. — The Life of St. Columba, Founder of Hy. Dublin, 1857.

Sharpe 1984 : SHARPE (R.). — Some Problems concerning the organisation of the Church in early medieval Ireland. Peritia, 3,1984, p. 230‑270.

Vita st. Brigitae : BOLLAND ed. —‑ Vita st. Brigitae, Acta Sanctorum, Bolland, Feb. I.

Vita st. Patricii : BIELER ed. — Vita st. Patricii, Scrip. Lat. Hib., c. 27. 1979, p. 147.

Vita Tripartitia : STOKES (W.) ed. — Vita Tripartitia. London: Master of the Rolls, 1887.

Table des illustrations

Légende FIG. 1 – Duleek : plan
Fichier image/jpeg, 72k
Légende FIG. 2 – Oldtown : plan
Fichier image/jpeg, 30k
Légende FIG. 3 – Reconstitution des enceintes de 12 sites monastiques irlandais. 1 Armagh ; 2 Kells (Co. Meath) ; 3 Kildare ; 4 Tuam ; 5 Lusk ; 6 Cashell ; 7 Killala ; 8 Finglas ; 9 Monasterboice ; 10 Lorrha ; 11 Glendalough ; 12 Downpatrick. Ces reconstitutions sont fondées sur le tracé des rues actuelles et sur les résultats de la photographie aérienne : trait continu : enceinte ; pointillés : zone d’inhumation
Fichier image/jpeg, 41k
Légende FIG. 4 – Répartition des enceintes monastiques
Crédits M. Henry del. / dAf
Fichier image/jpeg, 63k


Lecturer in Archaeology, College of Technology, Dublin.

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