Bede in his ‘Ecclesiastical History’ dated the arrival of St Columba in Britain and the foundation of the monastery of Iona to 565, two years after the 563 date derived from sources associated with Iona. This article analyses the different possibilities for how Bede obtained his date, arguing that he used a Pictish source, and places the claim in the ‘Ecclesiastical History’ that Iona was given to Columba by the Picts in the context of other evidence that Pictish over-kings in the decades before 730 were beginning to attempt to dominate Dál Riata. It also proposes that notes added to the Series longior Pictish king-list at Abernethy in the mid-ninth century display a strong Gaelic influence ultimately derived from a similar chronological source to that used by Bede. As a result Bede’s calculation and the king-list notes provide evidence for Pictish scholarship and its cultural connections.


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pp. 183-205
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
Archive Status
Archived 2009
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