A Tale of Two Synods: Adomnan of Iona and Muawiya ibn Abi Sufyan

with Alex Woolf, Senior Lecturer University of St. Andrews

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Adomnán of Iona is best known as the author of The Life of Saint Columba but his other extensive work ‘On the Holy Place’ was also widely read in the Middle Ages. It purports to be an account of the Holy Land and Constantinople given him by a Gallic bishop Arculf. This book contains the earlies surviving textual account of Mu’awiya, the fifth caliph of Islam, whose activities take up a chapter of the work. In this talk I suggest why Adomnán was interested in Mu’awiya and what use he put him to.

Alex Woolf was raised on the Sussex coast and educated at the University of Sheffield, after brief stints lecturing at the University of Wales Lampeter and the University of Edinburgh he took up a post at St Andrews in 2001 where he has been teaching ever since. He has published on a range of early Insular and Scandinavian topics but is best known for his work on Dark Age Scotland.

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