Find is linked to St Columba

The Oban Times - - News -

EV­I­DENCE kept in a match­box has been used to prove that a wooden hut tra­di­tion­ally associated with St Columba 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 sam­ples were ex­ca­vated in 1957 by ar­chae­ol­o­gist Pro­fes­sor Charles Thomas but, with ra­dio car­bon dat­ing only just emerg­ing at the time, they were not tested and in­stead kept in match­boxes in his garage in Corn­wall.

Al­to­gether, 10 ra­dio car­bon dates were re­turned from sam­ples from Prof Thomas’s ex­ca­va­tions, all dat­ing to the early me­dieval pe­riod (AD 500-1100).

The ‘hut’ is be­lieved to be the monk’s ‘cell’ where he prayed and stud­ied in iso­la­tion. Re­sults show the hut dated back to be­tween AD540 and AD650, while Columba died in 597. Prof Thomas died last year.

Dr Adrian Mal­don­ado, from the Univer­sity of Glasgow, de­scribed the car­bon dat­ing as vin­di­ca­tion of his fore­sight in stor­ing the sam­ples.

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