Current Research

Maclean’s Cross in Cladh Sorobaidh, Tiree. Image by author.

Aerial and Satellite Archaeological Prospecting: Medieval Ecclesiastical sites on Tiree and Colonsay, funded by the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland.

It is known from textual sources that numerous monasteries were established in the Hebrides in the early Christian period. Evidence relating to these sites may survive in place-names and dedications, or crosses and sculptural fragments. Investigating these sites in their entirety is difficult using traditional archaeological methods for a variety of reasons. The aim of this project is to survey suspected early monastic sites on the islands of Tiree and Colonsay using remote sensing technologies, which enables broad areas to be analysed through airborne and satellite data.

View of Eilean Shona near the mouth of the River Shiel. Image by author.

Place-Names, Landscapes and Early Christian Identity in the Hebrides: the Maritime Geography of the Life of Saint Columba, supported by the Strathmartine Trust.

Adomnán’s eighth-century Life of Saint Columba is an exceptionally important text for the study of early Hebridean and Western Scottish place-names and the history of early medieval monastic life in this maritime environment. This study provides the first comprehensive investigation of the Hebridean island names and place-names in the Life of Columba, and uses place-names in conjunction with archaeological, topographical, and art-historical evidence to examine Saint Columba’s early spheres of influence, the networks between early ecclesiastical communities in Western Scotland, and the ways in which the author of the Life and his contemporaries related to this maritime environment, both physically and spiritually.