From the editor
This month’s cover story takes us to the western fringe of the early medieval Christian world: the isolated islet of Skellig Michael, off the coast of Co. Kerry. Once inhabited by intrepid ascetics, the ruins of monastic structures still cling to its jagged slopes. We explore the history of this and later communities who once called the rocky outcrop home, and why it was designated a World Heritage Site in 1996.
Moving to another coastal site, we next travel to the waters off north Norfolk, where the Gloucester struck a sandbank and sank in 1682. Its wreck was rediscovered in 2007, and since then artefacts eroding from the site have been shedding light on the lives of its passengers – which included the future James II and VII – and the post-Restoration politics that drove its fatal final voyage.
Our next feature reflects another turbulent period in English history, culminating in the murder of Thomas Becket in 1170. An ornate shrine was built in Canterbury Cathedral to house his relics, but it was torn down during the Dissolution of the Monasteries. What has recent research revealed about its appearance?
Completing our trio of conflict-themed articles, we then explore the long-demolished Civil War-era defences of King’s Lynn. What can we learn about their design?
Finally, we travel to Govan Old, an impressive Victorian church in Glasgow’s former industrial heartland which houses a remarkable series of Viking Age carved stones. With recent fieldwork uncovering more such stones in the churchyard, we explore the latest findings and highlight an ongoing initiative working to put the site at the heart of the local community once more.