Book Series Cultural Encounters in Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages, vol. 23

Transforming Landscapes of Belief in the Early Medieval Insular World and Beyond

Converting the Isles II

Nancy Edwards, Máire Ní Mhaonaigh, Roy Flechner (eds)

  • Pages: 526 p.
  • Size:/546 mm
  • Illustrations:50 b/w, 1 tables b/w.
  • Language(s):English
  • Publication Year:2018

  • ISBN: 978-2-503-56868-3
  • Hardback
  • Available
  • ISBN: 978-2-503-56869-0
  • E-book
  • Available

This volume explores and analyses the effects of religious conversion on landscapes of cult and on literary practice in Europe c. AD 350–1100, focusing in particular on Britain and Ireland


“The editors are to be commended for assembling a collection of essays of uniformly high quality”. (Kristen Mills, in the Journal of English and Germanic Philology, 119/1-4, 2020, p. 140)

"At over 500 pages, this is a hefty volume that covers a great deal of ground. To Brepols’ credit, it is nicely produced and appropriately illustrated. By switching across different disciplines and various regions, it opens up some useful and thought-provoking comparisons (…) it will remain an important reference work for some time to come on the Christian conversion of Northern and Western Europe.” (Ethan Doyle White, in Time & Mind, 2020, p. 350)

“There certainly is need for multi-disciplinary and comparative approaches on these topics, and the Converting the Isles network has done an excellent job in opening the discussion.” (Katja Ritari, in Peritia Journal of the Medieval Academy of Ireland, 30, 2019, p. 278)


Conversion to Christianity is arguably the most revolutionary social and cultural change that Europe experienced throughout Late Antiquity and the early Middle Ages. Christianization affected all strata of society and transformed not only religious beliefs and practices, but also the nature of government, the priorities of the economy, the character of kinship, and gender relations. It is against this backdrop that an international array of leading medievalists gathered under the auspices of the Converting the Isles Research Network (funded by the Leverhulme Trust) to investigate social, economic, and cultural aspects of conversion in the early medieval Insular world, covering different parts of Britain, Ireland, Scandinavia, and Iceland.

This volume analyses the effects of religious conversion on landscapes of cult and on religious practice in Europe, focusing in particular on Britain and Ireland. Adopting an interdisciplinary and comparative approach, the volume investigates the interaction between different forms of belief, their coexistence and competition. It discusses the coming of writing, the power of the word, landscapes of ritual, and converting communities. The contributors include leading historians, archaeologists, linguists, and literary scholars. This is the second volume to emerge from research undertaken by contributors to the Converting the Isles Research Network and forms a companion volume to The Introduction of Christianity into the Early Medieval Insular World.

See the companion volume at:





Part I: The Coming of Writing

Literacy and Conversion on Irelands Roman Frontier: From Emulation to Assimilation — ELVA JOHNSTON

Languages and Literacy in the Mid-First Millennium Ireland: New Questions to Some Old Answers — ANTHONY HARVEY

Script and Conversion — MARK STANSBURY

Runic Carvings as Evidence of the Conversion of Scandinavia: A Comparison between the Rune Stones in the Provinces of Uppland and Västergötland — ANNE-SOPHIE GRÄSLUND

Part II: The Power of the Word

Mensa in Deserto: Reconciling Jonass Life of Columbaus with Recent Archaeological Discoveries at Annegray and Luxeuil — JEAN MICHEL PICARD and SEBASTIEN BULLY

Searching for Conversion in the Early English Laws — HELEN FOXHALL FORBES

The Christian Message and the Laity: the Heliand in Post-Conquest Saxony — INGRID REMBOLD

From Story to History: Narrating Conversion in Medieval Ireland — MÁIRE NÍ MHAONAIGH

The Agency of the Female Saint in Hagiographical Conversion Narratives: St Íte in Opposition to St Monenna — JULIANNE PIGOTT

Part III: Landscapes of Ritual

From Burial among the Ancestors to Burial among the Saints: An Assessment of Burial Rites in Ireland from the Fifth to the Eighth Centuries AD— ELIZABETH O’BRIEN

Converting Kingship in Early Ireland: Redefining Practices, Ideologies and Identities — PATRICK GLEESON

Barrows and the Conversion of the Landscape at Forteviot, Perthshire — ADRIÁN MALDONADO

Pagan and Christian: Practice and Belief in a Pictish Landscape — MEGGEN GONDEK

Chi-Rhos, Crosses and Pictish Symbols: Inscribed Stones and Stone Sculpture in Early Medieval Wales and Scotland — NANCY EDWARDS

Part IV: Converting Communities

Early Christianity in South-west Germany: the Conversion of the Allemanni — BERNARD MAIER

Investigating Peasant Conversion in Ireland and Anglo-Saxon England: A Preliminary Enquiry — ROY FLECHNER

Church Sites and Other Settlements in Early Medieval Ireland: Densities, Distributions, Interactions — TOMÁS Ó CARRAGÁIN


Converting the Isles: Reflections and Reconsiderations — NANCY EDWARDS, MÁIRE NÍ MHAONAIGH, and ROY FLECHNER