In His Silvis Silere: The Monastic Site of Annegray - Studies in a Columbanian Landscape.
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The monastic site of Annegray lies in the foothills of the Vosges Mountains in eastern France. Founded by the Irish saint, Columbanus, at some stage around 591A.D., it was the first of what was to become a group of three monasteries in this small corner of the Vosges, with its sister foundations of Luxeuil and Fontaines lying 15km further to the west. For a site that is so well known from the account of Columbanus¿ hagiographer Jonas of Bobbio, relatively little else is known about Annegray, particularly in relation to the earliest phase of the monastery. This thesis sets out to explore the origins and early development of Annegray. While the departure point is the same as used by many authors, the description in Jonas¿ Vita Columbani, the work carried out as part of this project has added new data to the field of study. A campaign of fieldwork consisting of geophysical prospection and excavation has taken place over the past three years at Annegray, which offers tantalizing insights to our understanding of the monastery. This is complemented by a landscape treatment of the site, which aims at contextualising the archaeological data, but also at identifying the mechanisms that led to the establishment of a monastic community in what Jonas tells us was a desertum. Indeed a key consideration will be how the historical account relates to the archaeological data exposed as part of the investigation. A further consideration is the characterisation of the Vosges monasteries, by later authors, as Irish foundations on the continent and the veracity of such an image.