Archaeology (Book Chapters)

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  • Publication
    A3.6 Holocene vegetation history of SW Connemara, Co. Galway with particular reference to Carna and Roundstone
    (Irish Quaternary Association, 2019) O'Connell, Michael; McDonnell, Karina
    Conclusions A 14C-dated pollen profile from Loch an Chorcail, southern Carna peninsula provides a detailed record of vegetation and land-use change that spans most of the Holocene. Pine (P. sylvestris, i.e. Scots pine), oak (Quercus; most likely Q. petraea which characterises present-day western oak woodlands) and hazel (Corylus) are the dominant woody species for much of the Holocene. Pine declines after a pronounced phase of colonising bog surfaces during the so-called pine flush that lasted from ca. 5000 4750 cal. BP. The final decline in oak took place shortly after 3000 cal. BP. Bog/heath taxa are already locally present and common in the early Holocene (Calluna from ca. 9700 cal. BP; E. tetralix from ca. 8100 cal. BP). The fern, Osmunda regalis, was already frequent by 10 800 cal. BP, and Hymenophyllum wilsonii spores are first recorded at ca. 10 400 cal. BP indicating local presence of this filmy fern since the early Holocene. Eriocaulon pollen is recorded with relatively high consistency from ca. 6730 cal. BP until recent times which suggests continuous presence of E. aquaticum (American pipewort) at Loch an Chorcail over this period. As far as we are aware, this is the longest Holocene record for Ireland and indeed Europe. The micro-charcoal record indicates that fire was important from at least 10 000 cal. BP onwards. Sandy layers are recorded in the centuries around the Elm Decline (dated to 5870 cal. BP) which suggest soil erosion but there is no evidence for a pronounced Neolithic Landnam event as at other sites in Connemara (e.g. Lough Sheeauns; Molloy and O Connell 1991). Major changes in woodland composition and also woodland extent began at ca. 3830 cal. BP, i.e. in the early Bronze Age, and led to lake infilling and shallow lake conditions that favoured aquatic plants. Considerable soil erosion, which manifested itself as sandy layers in the lake sediment, was a feature of the early and mid-Iron Age (ca. 2500 1800 cal. BP). Cereal-type pollen is not recorded and pollen of ruderals are poorly represented so it seems that there was little or no cereal cultivation in the vicinity of the lake due probably to unfavourable edaphic conditions caused by bog/heath development. Pollen profiles from the nearby Roundstone peninsula show similar vegetation history. A key mid-Holocene feature is the widespread but short-lived colonization of peat surfaces by pine (Pinus sylvestris) that was probably mediated by climate change, i.e. drier/warmer followed by wetter/cooler conditions. The data provide evidence for considerable change not only in woodland composition and extent, but also bog/heath development and loss of open water bodies and reedswamps, especially in the later Holocene as sediment-infilling progressed apace, furthered by increased human impact.
  • Publication
    Gender and archaeology
    (Oxford University Press, 2022-02-21) Dempsey, Karen
    In archaeology, gender is not a simple man-woman binary classification. It is the performance and embodiment of an identity that intersects with age, sex, race, sexuality, and class. One is not born, but rather becomes, a gendered person over time. Ideally, gender is explored as one of the structuring principles in societies. Gender archaeology challenges the notion that gender is timeless, biologically determined, and universal. By addressing questions to the material evidence—landscape, space, architecture, food, bodies, and artifacts—it investigates gendered roles and identities. A gender role comprises societal expectations: how people are supposed to walk, talk, dress, and act. This can be more straightforward than explorations of gendered identities, which are personal conceptions of self. Genders can be performed or embodied differently throughout the life course, meaning that people consistently (re)negotiate gender roles and identities throughout time. However, some studies still equate gender with sex, view gender as a binary (man and woman), or implicitly assume that gender identities follow Western or European models. We must be aware that, like now, gender exists on a wide spectrum, and assume the presence of various identities, including trans or pan folkx as well as categories of normative women and men. From its inception in the 1980s, gender archaeology, drawing on inspiration from other areas of the humanities and civil rights movements (as well as anthropology more generally), endeavored to change archaeological practice. It highlighted the problematic assumptions made in the present about the past, including ideas of universal male dominance. Challenges to this were rooted in second-wave feminist activism: women were demanding space, both within contemporary society and in accounts of the past. Feminist archaeologists firstly engaged in the process of making women visible. Drawing from wider post-structural and postcolonial thinking, from the mid-1990s onward, gendered approaches moved toward conversations of “difference” including explorations of power as well as agency, moving on from the “add women and stir” approach. This meant dismantling the concepts of apparently stable gendered identities of “man” or “woman” and embracing the fluidity of identity, characteristic of third-wave feminism. This resulted in wider conversations on sexualities, the body/embodiment, ethnicity, personhood, and life course. At this time, too, there was a surge in studies of masculinities, which had been left out in the pursuit of making women visible. Yet archaeology remains dominated by stories of anonymous, elite white men. With signs of renewed feminist activism (the fourth wave?), there is hope for different, better and inclusive narratives.
  • Publication
    The culture of castles in Tudor England and Wales, by Audrey M. Thorstad
    (The English Historical Review, 2021-06-11) Dempsey, Karen
    This book should be read by everyone who has an interest in castle studies and the social history of Tudor England more generally. It is a well-researched volume and the first interdisciplinary study devoted to Tudor castles. Audrey M. Thorstad rightly believes in understanding the value of Tudor castles beyond militarism. They are not viewed as an end to castle building nor as castles in decline but as entities worthy of study in their own right.
  • Publication
    A comparative archaeological review of the late prehistoric 'royal site' of Rathcroghan
    (Geography Publications, 2018) Fenwick, Joseph P.
    [No abstract available]
  • Publication
    Herstory: Exploring the material life of Gundrada de Warenne
    (V & R Unipress GmbH and Bonn University Press, 2021-01) Dempsey, Karen
    Scholarly work on castles draws on multiple sources from history, archaeology, art and architectural history to literary and religious studies. This places it inaunique position to be able to bring different threads together to tell full stories of women’s lives. But a challenge exists to explore medieval women’s gendered roles and their lived experience without falling prey to the trap of inserting women into traditional narratives of male power. As a first step in response to my own call for fuller archaeological accounts of women’s lived experiences, this article focuses on one elite woman – Gundrada Oosterzele-Scheldewindeke, later de Warenne (d. 1085). It endeavours to capture her world through an examination of the material connections and relationships of her life. While people and places are important in this, the emphasis here is placed on our knowledge of the things that shaped Gundrada’s life and death. These range from castle architecture, her much-discussed Tournai stone tombslab, an assemblage of hairpins and a devotional text, the Crowland Psalter, as well as an archaeological object with possible amuletic properties. Drawing these different strands of evidence together shows how we can foreground women, not by marking them as exceptional but to highlight that they were part of and participative within the networked material world.
  • Publication
    Shaky foundations: Romantic nationalism and the development of the 'Irish model' of Neolithic settlement
    (Oxbow Books, 2020) Whitefield, Andrew; College of Arts, Social Sciences, and Celtic Studies, National University of Ireland Galway
    [No abstract available]
  • Publication
    Geophysical survey of Knowth Area 11 [Apppendix 8]
    (Royal Irish Academy, 2012-06) Fenwick, Joseph P.
    [No abstract available]
  • Publication
    A horrid-nice day at Knowth
    (Wordwell, 2018) Fenwick, Joseph P.
    [No abstract available]
  • Publication
    Memorialising Gaelic Ireland: the curious case of the Ballyshannon fragments and the Irish monuments at San Pietro in Montorio, Rome
    (Guildhall Press, 2010) FitzPatrick, Elizabeth
    The burial place of the exiled Irish at San Pietro in Montorio, Rome (Pl. 1), is perhaps the most iconic Irish diaspora funerary site in Europe, not least because the community interred there (1608–23) are found in the company of Bramante’s Tempietto (1502) and Bernini’s chapel to the Raymondi family (1640) with his Ecstasy of St Francis Baratta on the reredos. For all that, the Irish past at the site has received remarkably little scholarly attention since the last record made of the memorials at San Pietro in Montorio by Gasparo Alveri in 1664.1 The historiography of the Irish burials is slight, commencing with Tadhg Ó Cianáin’s chronicle reference to the funerary rites of Rory O’Donnell in 1608, 2 continuing with a seventeenth-century registry of the parish church of San Pietro in Montorio which records some of the Irish burials up to 1613, 3 with the most detailed and accurate record of the inscriptions on the memorials in the church floor made by Alveri during his great project to record the modern inscriptions from the churches of Rome in the 1660s. It was the nineteenth century before any further attention was directed to the seventeenth-century exiles buried on Gianicolo.
  • Publication
    The last kings of Ireland: material expressions of Gaelic lordship c.1300-1400 A.D.
    (Routledge, 2016-04-27) FitzPatrick, Elizabeth
    During the later medieval period in Ireland, Gaelic lords continued to publicly identify themselves as immediate descendants of kings through carefully chosen elements of material culture. Evocations of Gaelic kingship in the material record of the fourteenth and early fifteenth century have traditionally been seen as evidence of revival , a period of renewal imbued with a new spirit of confidence . The uncritical use of terms like revival and resurgence has somewhat impeded a more complex perspective on the behaviour of Gaelic elites in this period. The phenomenon of revival , viewed over a century or more, may have an alternative appreciation as an attempt by Gaelic dynasties to display their royal lineage with varying degrees of impact during a profound period of change when their status declined irretrievably to that of lords. What emerged was a greatly refashioned concept of what it was to be Gaelic and elite.
  • Publication
    In the way of development: Tara, the M3 and the Celtic Tiger
    (Manchester University Press, 2015-01) Newman, Conor
    Examines the context of the decision to construct a motorway through the historical landscape of Tara, touching on the broader issue of the relevance of heritage in contemporary Ireland.
  • Publication
    Gaelic service kindreds and the landscape identity of Lucht Tighe
    (Cork University Press, 2018-03-06) FitzPatrick, Elizabeth
    This paper discusses the character of the lands of householders who served the courts of Gaelic lords in later medieval Ireland and how their association with those lands, which were mostly of early medieval royal origin, was integral to their identities as hereditary service providers. It demonstrates that this approach has the capacity to reveal a more total picture of later medieval settlement in Gaelic polities than
  • Publication
    Rindoon Castle, Co. Roscommon: a border castle on the Irish frontier.
    (Publications du CRAHAM, Château Gaillard, Université de Caen., 2014) O'Conor, Kieran; Naessens, Paul; Sherlock, Rory; |~|1267880|~|
    Rindoon Castle controlled and dominated one of the best harbours along the Shannon. It was argued that a pre-Norman promontory fort never existed at Rindoon. Instead, it is suggested that these earthworks represent the south-eastern defences of the later Anglo-Norman town. The pre-Norman fortress implied in the place-name Rinn Duin perhaps lies under the later Anglo-Norman masonry castle. This earlier fortification might have been built as a Viking stronghold, a later O'Conor fortress or both. The Anglo-Norman masonry castle was started in 1227. This royal castle has at least five identifiable architectural phases within it. These range in date from the early 13th century through to the very late 16th century. The evidence suggests that Rindoon Castle was far stronger in defensive terms than was once thought. This makes some sense as the historical sources suggest that it lay in a relatively turbulent border area, on the frontier between Gaelic and Anglo-Norman dominated parts of medieval Ireland. Lastly, the siting of major buildings within the castle suggests that there was a deliberate attempt by its original builders and later occupants to make its whole north-western and northern facades very dramatic looking. It is also argued that the castle was framed by a deer-park to its southeast.
  • Publication
    Pre-Norman fortification in eleventh and twelfth-century Ireland
    (Publications du CRAHM, Château Gaillard, Université de Caen, 2012) O'Conor, Kieran; Naessens, Paul; |~|1267880|~|1267881|~|
    This paper examines the evolution of fortification in Connacht during the 11th and 12th centuries, prior to the arrival of theAnglo-Normans to Ireland in 1169. Our main argument is that Irish fortresses of the period, while generally stronger and more substantial than what was seen before, evolved out of the native cashel, rath and crannog traditions. Recent fieldwork carried out in the west of Ireland on various lakeland sites is used to demonstrate this point.
  • Publication
    Fortification in the North (1200 -1600)
    (Aarhus University Press, 2011-11) O'Conor, Kieran
    This paper looks at different types of fortification used across north-west Europe between the twelfth and early seventeenth centuries. These incude castles, town walls, artillery fortifications, linear fortifications, territorial defences, fortified houses, crannogs and moated sites. One major theme in the paper is how the development of fortifications throughout this period reflect changes in society.