St Columba 1,500th anniversary to be marked by interactive map and poetry collection

15 June 2021
To mark the 1500th anniversary of the birth of St Columba, Historic Environment Scotland (HES) has published a new collection of poems by writer in residence Alex Aldred, inspired by and celebrating Columba's life.

As HES’s first commissioned writer in residence, Alex spent 20 weeks working with Historic Environment Scotland, exploring Columba’s relationship to some of its sites and the wider Scottish landscape, to create a body of work celebrating the patron saint of poetry and his historic links to the country.

Columba interactive digital map

In tandem with the collection, HES is also launching a new interactive digital map of the Columba linked locations which inspired Alex’s work; enabling visitors to trace the paths and key sites the saint visited across Scotland, including Iona, the place  which he is most strongly associated after arriving there and setting up a Christian monastery in 563 AD. 

HES also plans to record Alex’s poems and make them available via QR codes on interpretation materials at the relevant sites so visitors can access and listen to them via their smart phones. 

QUICK LINK: Columba's Iona: History Scotland online event - book here!

Commenting on the project, Alex said: “I’ve had a tremendous time working on this project, and I’m very much looking forward to running the remaining workshops and releasing the portfolio to the public. 

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“As part of this project, HES has put together a digital map of Scotland, blending information on the history and significance of these various sites with excerpts from my poetry. This is one aspect of the celebration I am particularly excited for. 

“It’s my hope that the collection, and the accompanying map, will provide readers with a fresh perspective on Columba and historic Scottish landmarks.”

The public can join in the celebrations on social media and share their writing using the hashtag #Colmcille1500 to help commemorate poetry’s patron saint. 

Report and image courtesy Historic Environment Scotland.