Though the mists of time have closed down to some extent on those early days, Adamnan wrote his Life of Columba only a hundred years after the Saint's death. Cuimine the Fair was abbot at lona when Adamnan was there as a monk, and Cuimine had kwn Columba, had been trained under him as a lad and had himself written a short Life, De virtutibus sancti Columbae, which Adamnan quotes almost entire in his Third Book. Adamnan had therefore every advantage for the writing of Columba's life: he lived soon after the Saint among those who had kwn him; he had all the manuscript records of the monastery to draw upon; he wrote at Iona amid the scenes and in the atmosphere in which Columba had lived, probably even in the very hut he had occupied. And Adamnan was a native of Connacht; he belonged to the same royal race as Columba and was born only twenty-seven years after the Saint's death. Abbot of lona from 679 till 704, Adamnan was a remarkable man for those times, a scholar who could write Latin and was acquainted with Hebrew and Greek, a diplomat who persuaded the Celtic Church to make several important changes in its government and who secured the lasting liberation of the women of the Gaels from taking part in battle. These points are mentioned to show that Adamnan was t merely a monk on a lonely island, but one of the representative men of his time. It was at the request of his brethren that he undertook to write the life of the founder of the Columban Church, a document which is the earliest piece of historical literature connected with the Highlands- the most complete piece of such biography. Europe can boast of, t only at so early a period, but through the whole Middle Ages. It may be asked why, when that Life still exists, there is any occasion for this one. The answer is that Adamnan's so-called Life is t a biography. It is a collection of anecdotes t arranged in chrological order and t complete. Adamnan does t tell us all he kws; he tells us thing he considers derogatory to his hero, and most of his stories are chosen because they lead up to a miracle or a vision. History is of little importance to Adamnan, what he wants to do is to give a portrait of Columba as he saw him. Consequently although his Life is a priceless document of antiquity, there is a great deal which it does t tell us as it might conceivably have done. To the student of Celtic antiquity, of early religion, and particularly of the pre-Christian religion of our own country, Adamnan's Life of Columba is as full of riddles as it is of information. It gives us a bright and fresh picture of one particular phase of Scottish life in those early times: we see the monastic system as it was practised in Ireland and then in Scotland in the sixth century of our era, painted in vivid colours with a considerable amount of detail, but as to what lay outside of monastic life we gain from it very little information. A bright piece of real life with a great circle of darkness round it into which we would give much to be able to penetrate, that is what Adamnan gives us. By inference we learn much from his pages that he does t directly tell us, but his Life is incomplete, and must be supplemented by the old Irish Lives: that in the Book of Lismore, edited by Dr Whitley Stokes: that in the Leabar Breac or Speckled Book of MacEgan and that of Manus O'Donnell, a member of the clan from which Columba sprang, who in 1532 caused a Life of his illustrious kinsman to be compiled from every available source both in Latin and in Irish, in manuscript and in tradition. But these Lives, too, are collections of stories and legends rather than biography.