Evidence of town found on Iona dig

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The Independent Online
Archaeological evidence revealed for the first time yesterday indicates that the Scottish island of Iona, famous as the cradle of Christianity in Scotland, may have been more than just a small- scale secular community in its early days, writes James Cusick.

Excavations on the island, the burial ground of 60 Scottish kings, show Iona may well have grown into a large community comprising not just monks but probably a small 'university' town, established more than 300 years before either Oxford or Cambridge were founded.

The evidence that could mean a re-evaluation of the organisation behind Christianity's spread from Iona throughout northern Europe was presented at Glasgow University, and was based on excavations beneath St Ronan's, a 13th- century church.

Jerry O'Sullivan, an archaeological consultant working on the project, said: 'It may have been a monastic town with farmers and so on, and may not have been exclusively a male domain.'

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