The Mapping Miracles team had their first opportunity to discuss the aims and hopes of the project at a day-long hagiography workshop, organised by our very own Sarah Waidler, which took place at the Department of Anglo-Saxon, Norse and Celtic, Cambridge on 27 November. The aim of the workshop was to consider recent, on-going and future research concerning Insular saints, their cults and hagiographies.
The day began with a wonderfully thought provoking presentation by Pádraig Ó Riain, who argued that the Irish O’Donohue Lives make far more sense as products of the twelfth century (or later) than the eighth century, for which Richard Sharpe has argued on linguistic grounds. Barry Lewis followed, offering an overview of his current collaborative project, ‘The Cult of Saints in Wales: Medieval Welsh-Language Sources and their Transmission’, which aims over the next four years to construct a comprehensive database of material on medieval Welsh saints, including many vernacular poems that have never been edited previously. Following lunch, Gilbert Márkus treated us to a preview of the newly constructed online database of saints in Scottish place-names, which is the culmination of three years’ work by a team of researchers at the University of Glasgow and which, as Gilbert demonstrated, has tremendous potential for understanding the development of cults and their relationship with the Scottish landscape. In what was the last presentation of the day, Julianne then presented on behalf of the ‘Mapping Miracles’ team the vision of our project.
Each of the presentations stimulated much discussion amongst the workshop participants. Points of comparison were drawn between varying hagiographic traditions, while the logistics and potential values of such databases and collaborative projects provoked lively debate. Julianne did a great job of debuting our project and we received lots of useful, considered feedback. In particular, the terminology of our project was put under scrutiny (just as we hoped!), which highlighted how vital it is to establish a valid, comprehensive taxonomy for our project. We were also quizzed on how we would manage contributions from researchers who approach with information. This gave us lots to think about and we hope to continue these discussions at our conference in May. All in all, the hagiography workshop was a fantastic day – and was capped by a fun roundtable session, led by Rosalind Love. We hope everyone enjoyed it as much as we did and thanks to all the organisers, speakers and attendees!