Jul 26, 2010
What the Monks Did
Much of what is known about the early Celtic period comes from the early Christian era (mostly the 5th-10th centuries) because that is when writing was introduced in Ireland. The Norse raids that began in the 10th century brought some of the work to a halt and destroyed countless volumes of what remained in Ireland. Thankfully, the Irish monks brought many manuscripts to the European continent where they survive today.
The Celtic monks took the work of writing and reading on as a sacred duty and produced numerous hand-written manuscripts in the scriptoriums of ancient monasteries. But that is not to say that these people did not have stories previous to the introduction of reading and writing. They certainly did and they were passed down generation to generation. Oral storytelling was so revered that the role of the poet, the gatekeeper of the stories, was highly respected, especially in ancient Ireland. He who holds the stories of the past, holds the key to the people’s understanding of themselves.