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Saints and Sinners: A Millennium of Monasteries

About the Show

Dr Janina Ramirez explores how monasteries evolved from a cult of extreme isolation and self-deprivation into powerhouses of Anglo-Saxon art, industry and learning. Janina begins her journey on the desolate rock of Skellig St Michael off the east coast of Ireland, home to the oldest surviving monastery in the British Isles. Monasteries such as Lindisfarne and Whitby became beacons of civilisation and literature in the barbaric Anglo-Saxon world, creating wondrous works of art that include the Lindisfarne Gospels and St Cuthbert's pectoral cross. A rival form of regimented, communal monasticism was imported into southern Britain from Rome, and Janina reveals the holy struggle that ensued between these two opposing monastic ideals. The victors would transform England's culture and landscape - until they too were destroyed by a new wave of barbarian invaders. Part 1 of 3.