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The Settlements of the Celtic Saints in South Wales

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A Considerable literature has grown up in an attempt to interpret the Lives of the Celtic Saints. It is, however, concerned almost exclusively with hagiological, textual and literary problems and very little attempt has been made to appreciate the part played by these pioneers in determining the pattern of settlement and culture reflected in the earliest written accounts of native Welsh society.If we accept the view held by most students of the Celtic church that ancient churches and chapels now bearing the names of Celtic Saints owe their foundation in the first instance to the fact that the saint in question, or one of his immediate followers, actually visited the site and established thereon a small religious community which became the forerunner of the modern church, then, by plotting on a map all the churches known to be, or to have been, dedicated to a particular saint, we possess at once a readily available means of studying both the extent of a saint's influence—the distribution of his cult—and, at the same time, the relationship of his churches to relief and to other elements in the physical and cultural environment. This approach has, in addition, the further advantage of allowing the investigator to be independent of the entirely unsatisfactory material preserved in the Lives of the various saints, the vast majority of which were written in the 12th century, several hundreds of years after the events they purport to describe, by Norman monks eager to re-orientate local legends to their own particular theological and ecclesiastical prejudices.
Cambridge University Press (CUP)
Title: The Settlements of the Celtic Saints in South Wales
Description:
A Considerable literature has grown up in an attempt to interpret the Lives of the Celtic Saints.
It is, however, concerned almost exclusively with hagiological, textual and literary problems and very little attempt has been made to appreciate the part played by these pioneers in determining the pattern of settlement and culture reflected in the earliest written accounts of native Welsh society.
If we accept the view held by most students of the Celtic church that ancient churches and chapels now bearing the names of Celtic Saints owe their foundation in the first instance to the fact that the saint in question, or one of his immediate followers, actually visited the site and established thereon a small religious community which became the forerunner of the modern church, then, by plotting on a map all the churches known to be, or to have been, dedicated to a particular saint, we possess at once a readily available means of studying both the extent of a saint's influence—the distribution of his cult—and, at the same time, the relationship of his churches to relief and to other elements in the physical and cultural environment.
This approach has, in addition, the further advantage of allowing the investigator to be independent of the entirely unsatisfactory material preserved in the Lives of the various saints, the vast majority of which were written in the 12th century, several hundreds of years after the events they purport to describe, by Norman monks eager to re-orientate local legends to their own particular theological and ecclesiastical prejudices.

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