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Hinba in Ultimum Terrae: A Landscape Analysis of the Lost Monastery of St Columba
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Arts, Department of Archaeology and Ancient History, Archaeology.
2016 (Swedish)Independent thesis Advanced level (degree of Master (Two Years)), 30 credits / 45 HE creditsStudent thesis
Abstract [en]

This thesis explores the unknown location of Hinba, the satellite monastery of Iona, founded by the Irish Saint Columba in the sixth century AD in western Scotland. The monastery is mentioned in the hagiography, Vita Columbae, written approximately one hundred years after Columba’s death, by the abbot Adomnán. In this thesis, it is argued that Hinba’s location can be traced more comprehensively by establishing Adomnán’s mental location of it and by studying its reflection in the physical landscape. This hypothesis is explored by constructing two types of maps: the first is my interpretation of Adomnán’s cognitive map with the places and spaces in VC and the other type of map displays the “real” landscape with the archaeological evidence of potential monasteries and also the topography of the area. At a later stage, these maps are integrated which shows primarily that the landscape concept of insula, that Hinba is constantly called, might have a dual meaning in the text. One interpretation is thus a complex allegorical meaning instead of an island. This suggests that Hinba’s location might have been in the mainland which contradicts earlier attempts that have located the monastery upon Hebridean islands. The analysis proposes instead that insula was an experienced place for Adomnán, characterised by isolation, closeness to water, sacredness, for instance by supernatural events, and enclosed by some kind of boundary – an experiential insula. These characteristics are subsequently explored by a phenomenological analysis of the mainland monastic site Kilmaha, resulting in that the site could possibly have been Hinba. It can also be concluded that the landscape setting of monasteries is more complex than earlier presumed; the locus incorporated perceptions of the entire landscape. It involved the spaces surrounding the place, such as water, that was perceived as an ordeal of faith by Adomnán when travelling to and from Iona.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2016. , 96 p.
Keyword [en]
Adomnán, Columba, Iona, Hinba, Vita Columbae, Early Middle Ages, Argyll, Dál Riata, Hagiography, Monastic Archaeology, Phenomenology, Landscape Archaeology
National Category
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-295799OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-295799DiVA: diva2:934943
Subject / course
Archaeology (HGO)
Available from: 2016-06-09 Created: 2016-06-09 Last updated: 2016-06-11Bibliographically approved

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