Such a fascinating story.
Supporting monks for example on the Kells Monastic Site – and other monasteries in Ireland – starting from the 6th century required a lot of farming.
The monks were skilled farmers.
To support for example 100 monks on a site like this – would have required 150 acres for the bread allowance – a pound a day.
The other allowance – a gallon of beer a day for the monks – would have required 350 – 450 acres to support that.
We believe the monks only were allowed to eat at 3 p.m. with this allowance.
This is not even allowing for visitors to the site – Kells was a great centre for the debate of rhetoric and featured several host houses.
Now before getting excited about the beer – this beer was only brewed for 3 days and was the consistancy of soup.
Farming therefore was a huge support system to a monastic site like Kells and would have swamped the outskirts of the town.
Bee keeping was a huge feature – we all know of medieval mead and the legend of how the bees came to Ireland – but honey was an important feature in the medieval story.
We know that there would always be a place called “the Grange” on the outskirts of a monastery which would be the centre of the farm site.
Driving out of Kells – you can see what this possible area was.
Kells also supported an infirmary – at least one or two – so the growing of herbs was possibly within the monastery for healing methods.
Most monasteries had fish ponds – but in Kells the monastery was close to the Blackwater River – tributory to the Boyne River – centre of the Boyne Valley Region – more possible that they used a weir system there.
The legend of the Salmon of Knowledge orginated in these parts.
All this medieval technology was exported to Europe in the 6th century during a time period described as the “Dark Ages” – as Rome pulled out.
Monks like Colmcille who created a monastery in Kells around 533 AD – took skills into Europe – such as the creation of mills to grind flour – the bible – how to make paper – how to farm – systems of governance etc.
For this reason – the Kells Monastic site – along with other monasteries – are on the Tentative List with UNESCO to become world heritage sites – for their early Christian importance on a European wide scale during the Dark Ages.
Lands of Saints and Scholars – the term resonates with Kells and other 6th century monastic sites.