Archaeologists have uncovered conclusive evidence that a wooden hut traditionally associated with St Columba at his ancient monastery on the island of Iona dates to his lifetime in the late sixth century.
Carbon dating has led to the breakthrough, which proves samples of hazel charcoal unearthed in an excavation of a wattle and timber structure on Iona 60 years ago are from the exact period Columba lived in the Inner Hebridean monastery.
The structure is believed to be the monk’s “cell” where he prayed and studied in isolation. Results show the hut dated back to between 540 and 650 and Columba died in 597.
St Columba is widely revered as a key figure in western Christianity and took the religion to Scotland from Ireland, landing on Iona in the year 563.
In the Life of St Columba, written 100 years after his death by his successor Adomnan, he was described as often writing in his cell on a rocky hillock, called Torr an Aba or “the mound of the abbot”.