Making Europe: Columbanus and his legacy Conference Series: Bangor May 22-24

2376457687_a5a1d5ca0c_bClick on this link Conference Programme  to view the final programme for the Bangor 2015 Conference.

The programme is being updated regularly, so please check back from time to time.

For on-line registration and tickets for the conference excursions and dinner, please click here.

Accommodation at Bangor is booked through the Bangor Visitor Information Office at  (ph 0044 28 9127 0069)

For all other queries:

An A4 poster advertising the Conference Series is available at: Bangor conf poster . Please feel free to download it and circulate it as widely as possible.

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Bobbio Field School, February 2015


The second Columbanus: Life and Legacy field school at Bobbio has just wrapped up in the last few days with a quite spectacular discovery. The field school, organized by the Università del Piemonte Orientale, Dipartimento di Studi Umanistici, revolved around excavation in the Basilica di San Columbano. (opposite Prof. Destefanis conducts public talk on excavations)
The excavation was planned thanks to an agreement signed between the Soprintendenza per i Beni Archeologici dell’Emilia Romagna (the regional district office of the Italian Ministry of Culture and Heritage ) who granted permission for the work, and Università del Piemonte Orientale, which carried the field school and the organization of the excavation, directed by Roberta Conversi and Eleonora Destefanis.

Postgraduate students from Ireland, Italy, France and the USA participated in the school. In addition to the excavation experience and training, they had workshops from Thomas Chenal (University of Besançon) on 3D digital imaging, Yolande O’Brien (NUI 064_2015.02.21, us 34BGalway) on digital predictive modelling, and on the Bobbio and Clonmore reliquaries with Conor Newman and Cormac Bourke. As guests of Dr Roberta Conversi of the Soprintendenza per i Beni Archeologici dell‘Emilia-Romagna, they had study visits to Travo (Piacenza) and Parma.

The position of the cutting was guided by georadar survey in 2014 organised by Sebastian Bully (who excavated at Luxeuil and Annegray DSC02500and runs the Annegray Field School) on behalf of the Scientific Committee of the international Making Europe: Columbanus and his Legacy Project. At a depth of about 1.80m below the level of the nave of the Basilica, the excavators came down onto the threshold (above), jambs and façade of an earlier, possibly Romanesque, church. Among the finds are fragments of frescoes, stucco fragments and inscribed bricks.

DSCN4676Clearly, there is a lot more to be discovered at Bobbio.: the excavation has not yet reached the level of the famous mosaic floor in the crypt of the present church. We hope to find the resources to do this over the next few years. Meanwhile, the project is indebted to the Andrew Mellon Foundation for sponsoring the students to participate in this and the other field schools associated with the project.

The excavations were not just of academic interest; there was a constant stream of visitors from the locale to the excavations. In addition to daily guided tours, the numbers of people who attended the final public exposition of the work is perhaps the most eloquent declaration of the enduring attraction of the past and its legacies to the future.
DSCN4671Excavation in the nave of the Basilica is the fulfillment of dream for the researchers Columbanus and his legacy in Bobbio. Very many thanks are due to Don Mario Poggi and the parishioners of Bobbio  for putting up with the inconvenience of an archaeological excavation in the nave of their beloved Basilica. Dr. Roberta Conversi, Prof. Eleonora Destefanis, Dr Nadia Botalla Buscaglia, and Davide Casagrande.

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Cleenish Field School 2

The second field school at Cleenish was organised around the completion of the geophysical survey and the opening of two test cuttings across features revealed in last year’s survey, including an enclosing fosse. Post-ex analysis is still under way, so these results are very preliminary. Topsoil (Ap(?) horizon) is thin across the two cuttings with


the result that there is very little horizontal stratigraphy over this side of the site. Instead, what was found, in addition to the enclosing fosse, was a number of shallow cut features, including a OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAvery shallow burial. Although it was comparatively narrow and shallow, the diggers of the fosse  took full advantage of the quite steep slope at this side of the site to create an effective barrier to traffic from the river side. Spill from the inside (up-slope) lip of the fosse seems to indicate the former presence of a bank but further analysis will be needed to confirm this.


Students from France, Italy, Ireland, the UK and the USA participated, and thanks are due to the landowners, once again, for their patience and hospitality, and to the Historic Environment Division of the Northern Ireland Environment Agency: Built Heritage and the Enniskillen Castle Museums for providing temporary storage of finds and samples from the excavation. The School was directed by Dr Ros Ó Maoldúin, and the geophysical survey and training was by Dr Roseanne Schot. Funding was from the Andrew Mellon Foundation without whose support this project would not have achieved a legacy of international collaboration and friendships.

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Cleenish Field School October 2014

The second international field school sponsored by the Columbanus: Life and Legacy Project will take place over two week from 20th October 2014. Once again students from Italy, France and Ireland will participate, this time building on the work of the 2013 field school. Activities will include completion of the geophysical survey and ground-truthing some of the features with test excavation. The field school would not be possible without the help of the Historic Environment Division of the Northern Ireland Environment Agency: Built Heritage and the Fermanagh County Museum.


Proposed is a test trench across part of the enclosure (see above) mapped last year in geophysics. The purpose is to confirm the nature of the feature and, if we are lucky, to get some dating evidence.

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Launch of Making Europe: Columbanus and His Legacy Project, Saturday 20th September 2014, Luxeuil-les-Bains

The draft programme for 2015 of the  the Making Europe: Columbanus and His Legacy Project was launched on the 20th of September in Luxeuil-les-Bains by the Mayor of Luxeuil, Michel Raison, the President of Les Amis de Saint Colomban Jacques Prudhon and the Chairperson of the International Scientific Committee Professor Jean-Michel Picard. Coordinators of the three conferences planned for Bangor (22-24 May 2015), Luxeuil (18-20 September 2015) and Bobbio (21-22 November 2015) introduced the themes of each conference. For a copy of the draft programme follow this link: Préprogramme colloques 2015_Bdef


From left: Martine Bavard (Conseillere Municipale de Luxeuil) Michel Raison (Maire de Luxeuil), Sébastien Bully (CNRS), Jean-Michel Picard (University College Dublin), Eleonora Destefanis (l’Università degli Studi del Piemonte Orientale “Amedeo Avogadro”), Jacques Prudhon (President of Les Amis de Saint Colomban), Conor Newman (National University of Ireland, Galway).

The Making Europe: Columbanus and His Legacy Project is the international iteration of the Columbanus: Life and Legacy Project based at the Moore Institute, NUI Galway.

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Luxeuil Archaeological Field School 2013

Laurent Fiocchi discusses the latest results in Sondage 1 with the students.

Laurent Fiocchi discusses the latest results in Sondage 1 with the students.

The second annual Luxeuil Archaeological Field School concluded on the 23rd of August after a wholly successful three week campaign in which students from Ireland, France and Croatia came together to work on the remains of Columbanus’ first continental monastery. The development of a full seminar series for this years programme, involving not only the students themselves, but also a number of invited lecturers, made it a thoroughly rewarding experience for all involved and represents a recipe for success to be applied in future campaigns.

Envisaged as an exploratory campaign, in advance of a large scale excavation next year, this year’s fieldwork consisted of opening a number of test trenches in the area surrounding the Romanesque church remains exposed by Dr. Giles Cugnier in the 1950s. The placement of the test trenches was based on evidence gathered through geophysical prospection in previous campaigns, while a further campaign of Ground Penetrating Radar was carried out by Fabien Chuc from the Centre d’Études Médiévales, Auxerre, in a number of parcels of land which had yet to be explored.

An aerial view of Annegray, showing the location of the four test trenches opened during the 2013 campaign.

An aerial view of Annegray, showing the location of the four test trenches opened during the 2013 campaign.

The test trenches allowed for the identification of the eastern and southern limits of the Romanesque phase of the church at Annegray, two areas which had remained undisturbed by the earlier excavation. On the eastern side, Sondage 1 revealed two semi-circular apses (the central and northern apse) which represent the eastern limit of the structure. While the results are still preliminary, with the analysis of carbonised wood samples taken from the mortar of the structures still to be conducted, a purely stylistic consideration of the features would place their construction in the 11th – 12th centuries. Sondage 3, in a parcel of private land to the south of the exposed remains, was placed to investigate a liner anomaly evident parallel to the church itself. The test trench revealed a series of large walls, of various phases, but which once again broadly relate to the Romanesque remains evident on the ground in the adjoining parcel. Apart from demonstrating the potential of the archaeology in this sector of the site, the various phases of construction evident in this brief campaign of test trenching, hint at a broad chronology of use: once again a number of samples were taking for C14 dating which will help the team in building up an overall chronology of the occupation of the hill on which the church site stands.

The variety of feature types and soil conditions, even in a site as small as Annegray, allowed for the students involved to familiarise themselves with a range of different contexts. They also benefited from the vast experience of the site supervisors, Dr. Sebastien Bully, Morana Čaušević Bully and Laurent Fiocchi, who imparted their expert knowledge in excavation, surveying and recording over the course of the three-week excavation. For the Irish students involved, in particular, it proved a once in a lifetime opportunity to familiarise themselves with the archaeology and excavation practices of a different country.

Students and locals enjoy an evening aperitif during the open day at Annegray

Students and locals enjoy an evening aperitif during the open day at Annegray

As part of our continuing efforts to involve the local population, an open day was held on the second last day of work, attended by members of the local press (L’Est Republicain), the mayors of La Voivre and Faucogney et la Mer, members of the Amis de Saint Colomban along with many inhabitants of Annegray itself. The evening event involved a guided tour of the excavation and description of the primary findings, followed by an aperitif over which questions could be asked in a much more informal ambience. The site was also visited by the head of the Regional Service for Archaeology (SRA), Mrs Marie-Agnès Gaidon-Bunuel, for the third year running. In addition to showing her approval of the work being undertaken by the collaborative project at Annegray, she also gave permission for a large scale excavation to be carried out on the basis of this years’ results. The 2014 campaign will take place over 6 weeks in August and September of next year and will consist of an open excavation connecting the areas of Sondage 1 and 3, incorporating a large sector of the site which evidently was not disturbed by Cugnier’s work and as such has the potential of revealing remains predating the Romanesque features discovered this year. In the interest of expanding the collaborative relationship, which this year is gathering momentum through the work conducted at Bobbio and Cleenish (Co. Fermanagh), it is envisaged that next year’s campaign will also involve a number of students from the University of Piemonte Orientale in northern Italy, thus bringing together the three main poles working on the archaeology of Saint Columbanus.

Alongside the fieldwork component of the field school, a series of seminars were also organised in the Abbaye de Saint Colomban in Luxeuil. These events provided the students with an opportunity to present their research work to an international audience and were aimed at encouraging these young researchers to consider what lessons they might learn from the approaches practiced in different research environments. In addition to the student’s own presentations, participants were also treated to a series of master-classes by a specially invited group of French and Irish academics. Dr Tomás O’Carragain of the archaeology department in University College Cork gave a lecture on insular early medieval monastic sites, which helped to set the context in which Annegray should be appreciated. Dr Kieran O’Connor of NUI Galway spoke on moated sites in Ireland, in light of last year’s discovery of a similar structure in the immediate vicinity of the monastery of Annegray, and his insights on the occurrence of these settlement types in relation to ecclesiastical centres were particularly well received. The master-class series was rounded off by Dr Stefan Wurtz, a bronze age specialist of the University of Dijon, who gave an overview of the pre-Columbanian activity in the wider Bruchin valley region. Needless to say, the success of the seminar component of the field school means that it will be further expanded in the coming years.

Clockwise from top left, Alicia Mougin (Masters Student, Université de Franche-Comte), Eugene Costello (PhD student, NUI Galway), Ivan Valant (Masters Student, University of Zagreb) and Fabien Chuc (Centre d’Études Médiévales, Auxerre) give their presentations during the seminar series at the Luxeuil Archaeological Field School.

Clockwise from top left, Alicia Mougin (Masters Student, Université de Franche-Comte), Eugene Costello (PhD student, NUI Galway), Ivan Valant (Masters Student, University of Zagreb) and Fabien Chuc (Centre d’Études Médiévales, Auxerre) give their presentations during the seminar series at the Luxeuil Archaeological Field School.

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Cleenish Island Archaeological Field School, 25th Sept to 5th Oct, 2013

The second field school organised by Columbanus: Life and Legacy Project will take place between 25 September and 5 October on Cleenish Island, Upper Lough Erne, Co. Fermanagh, where Columbanus received his primary education under St Sinell, its 6th century founder. As in the case of the Luxeuil Field School, the aim is fulfil one of the key research aims of the project whilst also bringing together postgraduate students from NUI Galway and our partner universities in France and Italy to create an enduring legacy of international contacts amongst the next generation of scholars.

1.Aerial view of Cleenish with area of geophysical survey marked in

1. Aerial view of Cleenish with area of geophysical survey marked in

The School will provide hands-on training in the two standard geophysical survey techniques (magnetometry and electrical resistance) and data processing and interrogation to 6 students (2 from each of the participating universities), by surveying the area around the graveyard on the northwest side of Cleenish Island (see Figure 1), the reputed site of the monastery founded by St Sinell and a later (medieval) parish church. Apart from the disused graveyard and several medieval carved stones – all of which form part of the scheduled monument (SMR FER229:013) – no traces of any archaeological features are visible at the site today. This is the first archaeological investigation to take place at Cleenish and has the potential of opening up a new chapter in the story of St Columbanus.

The field school will also host a series of seminars and excursions led by distinguished scholars who will share their expertise on various aspects of Irish archaeology, the early history of the Lough Erne region and Columbanus’ career prior to his departure from Ireland in the late sixth century.

2.Upper Lough Erne (photo courtesy of the Inland Waterways Association of Ireland)

2. Upper Lough Erne (photo courtesy of the Inland Waterways Association of Ireland)

The School will be directed by Dr Roseanne Schot, who is a Research Associate at Department of Archaeology, School of Geography and Archaeology, NUI Galway. Roseanne directed the geophysics at Annegray and Bobbio.

The six students include:

Anita Pinagli– School of Geography and Archaeology, NUI Galway

Oleg Kelly – School of Geography and Archaeology, NUI Galway

Stefano Bocchio, Università degli Studi Piemonte di Torino

Nadia Botalla Buscaglia, Università degli Studi del Piemonte Orientale, Vercelli

Thomas Chenal, Université de Franche-Comté, Besançon

Alicia Mougin, Université de Franche-Comté, Besançon

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