Geoffrey of Burton's Life and Miracles of St Modwenna (BHL 2097) is among the most substantial pieces of twelfth-century English hagiographic writing not previously to have appeared in print. It was produced by the abbot of Burton, where Modwenna's bones supposedly lay, in the period 1118-50, and consists of two parts of unequal length: the vita or Life proper, and the collection of miracle stories. The first part, forming about four-fifths of the total text, was based on an earlier Life by the Irish author Conchubranus, which Geoffrey revised and modified in style and substance. His creative rewriting of the Life throws much light on the Latinity, religious attitudes, and historical consciousness of an early twelfth-century Benedictine author. The second and shorter part of the text is made up of accounts of the miraculous cures and punishments connected with Modwenna's shrine at Burton. Geoffrey composed these stories on the basis of oral traditions and his own experience and they constitute a valuable source for the social and religious history of this part of England in the Norman period.
`Geoffrey's Life has no value as a source for the early Middle Ages, but as an example of an twelfth-century attempt to invent and embellish the past it is highly rewarding.'
Vita sancte moduenne virginis/Life of the Virgin Saint Modwenna