Adomnán’s Plans in the Context of his Imagining ‘the Most Famous City’

Thomas O’loughlin

in Imagining Jerusalem in the Medieval West

Published by British Academy

Published in print April 2012 | ISBN: 9780197265048
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780191754159 | DOI:

Series: Proceedings of the British Academy

Adomnán’s Plans in the Context of his Imagining ‘the Most Famous City’

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  • Medieval and Renaissance History (500 to 1500)


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Adomnán of Iona's work on the holy places of Jerusalem and surrounding regions (De locis sanctis) has been used as a guide to seventh-century Palestine. In particular, its plans of monuments such as the Church of the Holy Sepulchre have been used by archaeologists for information about buildings, while their form interests historians of cartography. However, these plans must be read with the book's several purposes in mind. They attempt to harmonize biblical data (and Adomnán's other literary sources) visually. In addition, they project elements of Iona's monastic liturgy into an alien liturgical space. The plans are not simply illustrations to clarify the text but constitute a distinct, parallel text of their own, with elements shown that Adomnán would not have asserted in writing. They indicate that, for Adomnán, there were different orders of verification for written texts and visual materials such as plans.

Keywords: Adomnán; Iona; plans; Jerusalem; Holy Sepulchre; Bible; cartography; liturgy; seventh century

Chapter.  11520 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Medieval and Renaissance History (500 to 1500)

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