Bracken, Damian, and Eric Graff, The Schaffhausen Adomnán, 2 vols, Cork: Cork University Press, 2008–2014.

  • Book/Monograph
Citation details
The Schaffhausen Adomnán (2 vols)
Cork University Press
Abstract (cited)
This is the first in a series of facsimiles of major Irish historical manuscripts. Each will be published with an interpretive commentary. This first book reproduces the earliest surviving copy of Adomnán's Vita Columbae, the Life of St Columba, dating from the late seventh century. Columba established one of the greatest Irish monastic and cultural foundations of the Middle Ages on the Island of Iona off the west coast of Scotland, in the 560s.

The monastery of Iona had close associations with the kings of the northern part of Ireland, Scotland, and northern England. It was the spiritual centre responsible for the conversion of Scotland and northern England to Christianity, and was the mother house of a great monastic federation that stretched from Lindisfarne, in the east of England, to Durrow, in the heart of Ireland. The Life was written by Adomnán, the ninth abbot of Iona, before 697, to mark the centenary of his patron's death. Like Columba, he was a member of the powerful Uí Néill (O'Neill) dynasty.

Adomnán's Life of St Columba has been described as perhaps the most sophisticated saint's life to be written in western Europe in the course of the seventh century. It bears witness to the scholarly and spiritual attainments of early Irish Christian culture. The manuscript reprinted in facsimile is one of the foremost achievements of that learned culture and has been preserved in the Stadtbibliothek, Schaffhausen, Switzerland since the eighteenth century.

Introduction-Damian Bracken; Report on the Codex: Schaffhausen, Stadtbibliothek, Generalia 1-Eric Graff; Schaffhausen, Stadtbibliothek, Generalia 1: The history of the manuscript-Jean-Michel Picard; The Schaffhausen manuscript and the composition of the Life of Columba-Mark Stansbury; Some orthographic features of the Schaffhausen manuscript- Anthony Harvey; A note on the Irish manuscripts Commission and the Schaffhausen manuscript of Adomnán's Vita Columbae- Deirdre McMahon; Index.
Related publications
Ó Cróinín, Dáibhí, “The earliest Irish and English books: time for a reappraisal?”, Peritia 28 (2017): 227–236.  
The Schaffhausen codex of Adomnán of Iona’s Vita Sancti Columbae, and the manuscript now known as St Cuthbert’s Gospel, are two of the most iconic manuscripts in the Insular tradition of book-production. The recent publication of a facsimile of the Schaffhausen MS., and of a collection of essays on the Cuthbert codex, offers an opportunity to reassess the opinions and views expressed by scholars on the subject in the last fifty years.
Wooding, Jonathan M., “Irish manuscripts in facsimile: The Schaffhausen Adomnán [Review article]”, Studia Hibernica 41 (2015): 177–188.
Subjects and topics
Dennis Groenewegen
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November 2018