Over the course of a week between the 18th and 25th of May Dr. Emmet Marron of the Columbanus’ Life and Legacy project had the opportunity to take part in excavations being carried out on the Monastery of St Peter, Osor, on the Croatian island of Cres, following an invitation from the excavation directors Dr. Sebastién Bully of the CNRS and Dr. Morana Čaušević-Bully (formerly of the Universtiy of Zagreb, now of the École française de Rome).
Since 2006 this fascinating site has been the subject of intensive research by a combined Croatian-French team, attempting to gain an understanding of the earliest phase of the monastic settlement in this small island town in the northern Adriatic area of Kvarner. Although the monastery is well attested in textual sources from the 11th century, the team is examining the possibility that the foundation cited in the texts either reoccupied the location of an earlier, Late-antique monastery, or even that it may simply represent a continuation of the earlier settlement.
While the invitation undoubtedly allowed for the strengthening of the international collaboration with the bodies involved in the excavation, the similarities in the development of the earliest phase of the monastery and the common research questions that it shares with sites such as Luxeuil, Annegray and Bobbio (foundation in an inhabited Roman town, the lack of previous study of the earliest phases etc.) meant that it was also a wholly rewarding experience from an academic perspective. The opportunity to participate in such an excavation and gain insights from those carrying out the work was particularly appreciated, as it is not so often that researchers working on aspects of monasticism in the Post-Roman West are afforded the possibility to learn at first hand from researchers involved in other areas that potentially experienced the same dynamics and that can, as such, help to develop our research approaches.
Dr. Marron would like to thank both Morana Čaušević-Bully and Sebastien Bully for their kind invitation and for the warm and enthusiastic welcome afforded by both them and their team during the course of his stay in Osor. As with the work carried out in Bobbio the previous week, this fieldwork trip was made possible by the generous funding of the Mellon Foundation.
For more information on the results of the excavation at Osor see:
Morana Čaušević-Bully, Miljenko Jurković, Sébastien Bully and Iva Marić, « Le monastère Saint-Pierre d’Osor (île de Cres) : cinquième campagne d’études archéologiques », Bulletin du centre d’études médiévales d’Auxerre | BUCEMA [Online], 15 | 2011, Online since 26 March 2013, connection on 31 May 2013. URL : http://cem.revues.org/11941
Sébastien Bully, Iva Marić, Morana Čaušević-Bully, Miljenko Jurković, Damien Martinez and Christian Camerlynck, « Le monastère Saint-Pierre d’Osor (île de Cres, Croatie) : quatrième campagne d’études archéologiques », Bulletin du centre d’études médiévales d’Auxerre | BUCEMA [Online], 14 | 2010, Online since 26 March 2013, connection on 31 May 2013.