I found this interesting article in the Glastonbury Review:
No. 118 MARCH 2010
Extending the Christian Frontier in late Antiquity:
Monks, missions, monasteries
and the Christianisation of space.
Towards a wider historical context for the archaeology of mission
In his consideration of the conversion of northern Europe to Christianity in the late antique/early medieval period, the historian Richard Fletcher makes the following observation:
‘The monasteries founded by the exiled holy men had something of the character of mission stations’
(Fletcher 1997: 94)
This statement was made in connection with a discussion of that dynamic leitmotiv of the Christianisation of Europe during the sixth century: the wandering holy man (peregrinus) as particularly personified by Columbanus, who engaged in an effective and wide-ranging mission of re-conversion in post-Roman Europe, through the Merovingian Kingdom and beyond its Rhine frontier to the east. This quotation provides the starting point for this contribution; having considered the socio-cultural impact of the Christian mission in southern and eastern Africa during the nineteenth century (Finneran 2002: 163 ff.; and see also Lane 2001: 153 ff.), I now seek to apply some of the broad ideas framed in that study to understand how the ‘rules of engagement’ of mission archaeology -- with particular reference to understanding re-conceptualisation of place and space -- can be applied to the model of the monastery as a mission, and monk as missionary, in late antique/early medieval Europe.
You can read the rest of it here:http://www.britishorthodox.org/118h.php