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AD 4001100
The Evidence from
A work of
scholarship that other
countries will envy

Aidan OSullivan, Finbar McCormick,

Thomas R. Kerr and Lorcan Harney


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The Evidence from Archaeological Excavations


Royal Irish Academy Monographs

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First published in 2013 by

Royal Irish Academy
19 Dawson Street
Dublin 2
Copyright Royal Irish Academy 2013
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reprinted or reproduced or
utilised in any electronic, mechanical or other means known or hereafter
invented, including photocopying or recording, or otherwise without
either the prior written consent of the publishers or a licence permitting
restricted copying in Ireland issued by the Irish Copyright Licensing
Agency Ltd., The Writers Centre, 19 Parnell Square, Dublin 1.
ISBN 978-1-908996-29-9
DOI: 10.3318/978-1-908996-29-9
British Library Cataloguing-in-Publication Data.
A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library.

Copyedited by Helena King

Cover design by Fidelma Slattery
Typeset by Datapage International Ltd

This publication has received support from:

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List of Figures
List of Plates
Chapter 1


Chapter 2 The History and Legacy of Early Medieval

Archaeological Excavation in Ireland


Chapter 3

Early Medieval Dwellings and Settlements


Chapter 4

The Early Medieval Church


Chapter 5

Farming in Early Medieval Ireland


Chapter 6

Early Medieval Crafts and Technology


Chapter 7

Early Medieval Trade and Exchange


Chapter 8

Death and Burial in Early Medieval Ireland


Chapter 9



Appendix of Tables

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It is appropriate that a book focusing on the practicalities of life in early medieval

Ireland, the challenges, the resources, the know-how, the craft and the graft that made
life not just tolerable but rich and varied, should itself arise from the very practical
and pressing challenge of harvesting the immense corpus of new data arising from
the decade of the development boom c. 19982008 and merging it into a canon of
existing knowledge.
The decade 19982008 saw exponential increases in the numbers of archaeological excavations undertaken in Ireland, placing unsustainable pressure on the sector,
and in particular on the regulatory bodies and the multitude of private archaeological companies that worked through the maelstrom that was Celtic Tiger Ireland.
Atthetime, the prevailing attitude seemed to be get the archaeology excavated, there
will be time to make sense of it later, with the result that an archive of monumental
proportions now lies largely unprocessed, unsynthesised and unpublished (although
some monographs and papers have started to appear). Worse still, such has been the
scale of collapse in the economy that many of the archaeological companies responsible for the excavations have folded and disbanded, and there is simply no money left
in the coffers to work on the material deriving from the excavations. Much of this was
This publication is the result of an archaeological policy innovation aimed
to address this crisis. Following a request in 2006 by government to review the,
sic, research needs in Irish archaeology, and after consulting widely, the Heritage
Council in 2008 proposed a new research initiative called the Irish National Strategic
Archaeological Research (INSTAR) programme. Since its inception, funding for this
significant programme has been provided by the National Monuments Service of the
Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht.
Whereas the INSTAR programme is intended broadly to contribute to a
better understanding of Irelands archaeological heritage, the key targets in 2008
were to stimulate and disseminate research on the major findings coming from the
archive of unpublished excavations. This was achieved by encouraging and fostering
research partnerships between the academic and private sectors of the archaeological
profession, and encouraging northsouth and international dimensions to the study
of Irelands rich archaeological heritage. Areas of particular focus were landscape,
settlement, environment and economy.
Though the funding for INSTAR may have all but collapsed as a result of the
economic crisisfrom 1m in 2009 to 50k in 2013testimony to the worthiness of
the programme is how INSTAR has entered the lexicon of archaeological research
in Ireland, and has been internationally acclaimed as a smart response to an archaeological crisis of this nature.
Far more enduring testimony, however, is this publication. With this book,
ranging as it does from settlement and subsistence infrastructure to craftworking and
trade, the public and researchers alike have access to the most up-to-date findings on
the early medieval period: information on how people lived; how they fed, clothed
and housed themselves; how they utilised the landscape and imprinted themselves
on it. While the engine-room of this monograph is a synthesis of early medieval
archaeological excavations in Ireland from 1930 to 2012, the introductory chapters


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also provide a historiography, a commentary and even an indicative road-map for the
future. This publication will immediately establish itself as the standard textbook for
the settlement, environment and economy of early medieval Ireland, with the added
bonus of a commitment to regularly up-date.
One of the aims of this monograph is to make the material on Irish early
medieval archaeology more accessible to international scholars. This is vital, because
otherwise this material will either continue to be ignored, thus making international
collaborations all the more difficult, or remain bound in the arrested clich of the
island of Celts, saints and scholars, permanently consigned to the periphery of compendia of early medieval Europe. The sections in this publication on imported goods
are not just a vital, up-to-date window onto the internationalisation of early medieval
Ireland, they may in fact serve to alert international scholars to the relevance of the
Ireland of that time, since trade is always a two-way street.
I would like to congratulate the team involved in this publication, and to
thank the great numbers of archaeologists who contributed information and generously shared their findings and insights. I look forward to more publications from
EMAP, and indeed from other INSTAR projects.
The need for programmes like INSTAR remains as acute as ever. A vast
store of untapped data still exists and there is a professional and moral obligation to
make use of it. Moreover, as every archaeologist knows, no matter how well documented they are, insights and observations acquired in the field or laboratory, like
photographs, fade over time. The longer work remains unpublished the harder it
isto bring it to a satisfactory conclusion. This process of dissipation of knowledge
acquired through archaeological excavation and research is being accelerated by
unemployment, lack of opportunity and emigration. The great legacy our early medieval ancestors have bequeathed us demands the very best from todays archaeologists. If we are to benefit fully from the work and money that went in to excavating
their monuments, we need to continue resourcing the analysis and publication of the
information derived through those excavations.
Conor Newman,
Chairman, The Heritage Council of Ireland,
October 2013.


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The Early Medieval Archaeology Projects research could not have taken place
without the support, help and goodwill of many people in cultural and government
institutions, universities and archaeological companies down through the years; we
would like to acknowledge here all of that help.
EMAP was first established in 2007 in University College Dublin. Its origins
lie in a UCD Presidents Research Fellowship (2004/2005), and the project was
established through a UCD Research Seed Funding Scheme award in 2007, followed
by two Archaeological Research Grant funding awards from the Heritage Council
(2007, 2008). We would like to thank the OPW for funding support in 2010 for
the EMAP conference held in Dublin on Early medieval settlements in Northwest
Europe, AD 4001100. This enabled valuable discussions with our colleagues and
allowed us to develop further ideas for the project. We also acknowledge the role of
the CHRONOS project in Queens University Belfast, for its valuable contribution to
the beginnings of the project and throughout.
EMAP really took off as a collaborative, academiaindustry, northsouth
research project in 2008, so we are most grateful of all to the Heritage Council of
Ireland, which established and financed EMAP (200813) as part of its Irish National
Strategic Archaeological Research (INSTAR) programme. We particularly want to
thank Ian Doyle and Mary Teehan for their ongoing help throughout the duration of
the project; Barry Cunliffe for his supportive comments; the chair of the Heritage
Council, Conor Newman; and all the members of the Heritage Council, the INSTAR
council and their international advisers.
EMAPs research activities could not have been undertaken at all without
those many archaeologists and archaeological companies who have generously
helped us down through the years. At a time of dramatic change in Irish archaeology,
people were always willing to help, to give their permission for us to read and cite
their unpublished reports, or even just to offer information and advice. Our experience was that when we contacted archaeologists, despite the many pressures upon
them, they were always, and without exception, eager that their work be accounted
for, that it be part of the debate and that it would contribute to our knowledge of early
medieval Ireland. Far from being too numerous to mention, we want to acknowledge
particularly the work and assistance of the following archaeologists, environmental
specialists and companies, and we apologise sincerely if anyone has been accidentally overlooked. We list them below alphabetically, and recognise, of course, that
with the economic downturn, some of these archaeological companies no longer
exist and that people have moved on.
We dedicate this book to all the archaeologists who have dug in Ireland
down through the years, and in particular we thank: mi Akeret (Cultural Resources
Development Services Ltd (CRDS)); Fiona Beglane (Institute of Technology,
Sligo); Nra Bermingham (TVAS (Ireland) Ltd); Niall Brady (ADCO), Catherine
Boner (Archaeological Consultancy Services Ltd (ACS)); Nik Bower (Eachtra);
Gerry Breen (Headland Archaeology); Thaddeus Breen (Valerie J. Keeley Ltd
(VJK)); Lydia Cagney (ACS); Miriam Carroll (VJK); Judith Carroll (Judith
Carroll & Co. Ltd); John Carrott (Palaeoecology Research Services); Beth Cassidy
(Archaeological Development Services Ltd (ADS)); Lyndsey Clarke (Headland


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Archaeology); Allister Clarke (ACS); Linda Clarke (ACS); Richard Clutterbuck
(CRDS); Sarah Cobain (ACS); Tracy Collins (Aegis Archaeology); Charlotte Coles
(ACS); Sheelagh Conran (CRDS); Malachy Conway (National Trust, formerly of
ACS); Claire Cotter (AML Ltd); Eamonn Cotter (AML Ltd); Tim Coughlan (Irish
Archaeological Consultancy Ltd (IAC)); Frank Coyne (Aegis Archaeology); Norman
Crothers (ADS); Abi Cryerhall (Margaret Gowen and Co. Ltd (MGL)); Ed Danaher
(then National Roads Authority); Finn Delaney (Eachtra Archaeological Projects);
Shane Delaney (IAC); Mary Dillon (CRDS); Marion Dowd (Institute of Technology
Sligo); Tara Doyle (Headland Archaeology); Colin Dunlop (NAC Ltd); Ruth Elliot
(Eachtra); Neil Fairburn (Eachtra); Martin Fitzpatrick (ACS); Claire Foley (NIEA);
Christina Fredengren; Haley Foster (ACS); Val Fryer (TVAS Ireland); Jonny Geber
(IAC); Vicky Ginn (NIEA, formerly of ACS); Antoine Giacometti (Arch-Tech
Ltd); Richard Gillespie (Mayo County Council); Caitrona Gleeson (Headland
Archaeology); Allan Hall (Palaeoecology Research Services); Eoin Halpin (ADS);
Sara Halwas (MGL); Sheila Hamilton-Dyer (Bournemouth University); Colum Hardy
(VJK); Sarah-Jane Haston (Headland Archaeology); Alan Hayden (Archaeological
Projects Ltd); Linda Hegarty (Eachtra); Mary Henry (ACS); Graham Hull (TVAS
Ireland); Neil Jackman (VJK); Tom Janes (Headland Archaeology); Deborah Jaques
(Palaeoecology Research Services); Richard Jennings (IAC); Penny Johnston
(Eachtra); Carlton Jones (MGL); John Kavanagh (ICON Archaeology); Valerie J.
Keeley (VJK), Martin Keery (Gahan and Long Ltd); Gearoid Kelleher (ACS); Agnes
Kerrigan (Mayo County Council); Jacinta Kiely (Eachtra); Alison Kyle (Headland
Archaeology); Dane Lalonde (Headland Archaeology); Susan Lalonde (Headland
Archaeology); Sheila Lane (Sheila Lane Ltd); John Lehane (Eachtra); Anne Marie
Lennon (AML Ltd); Stephen Linnane (ACS); Patricia Long (Headland Archaeology);
Camilla Lotqvist (Moore Archaeological and Environmental Services); Patricia
Lynch (Arch-Tech Ltd); Rob Lynch (IAC); Susan Lyons (Headland Archaeology);
Philip Macdonald (Centre for Archaeological Fieldwork, QUB); Margaret McCarthy
(Eachtra); Tori McMorran (Eachtra); Catherine McLoughlin (Stafford McLoughlin
Archaeology); Siobhain McNamara (ACS); Melanie McQuade (MGL); Cormac
McSparron (Centre for Archaeological Fieldwork, QUB); Emma Miller (VJK);
Bernice Molloy (MGL); Colm Moloney (Headland Archaeology); Caitrona Moore
(TVAS Ireland); Colm Moriarty (MGL); Jonathan Monteith (VJK); Richard Morkan
(ACS); Gerry Mullins (CRDS/Eachtra); Donald Murphy (ACS); Deirdre Murphy
(ACS); Niamh OCallaghan (Eachtra); Finola OCarroll (CRDS); Aidan OConnell
(Archer Heritage, formerly of ACS); Lorna ODonnell (UCD School of Archaeology,
formerly of MGL); Julianna ODonoghue (Eachtra); Edmond ODonovan (Edmond
ODonovan & Associates, formerly of MGL); Mchel Droma (VJK); Ciln
Drisceoil (Kilkenny Archaeology Ltd); Robert OHara (Archer Heritage, formerly of
ACS); Mabh OHare (ACS); Tara ONeill (ACS); Eileen OReilly (UCD School of
Archaeology, formerly of MGL); Oliver OReilly (ACS); E. Eoin OSullivan (MGL);
Tamas Ptervry (CRDS); Albna Hulda Plsdttir (Headland Archaeology); Muniz
Prez (CRDS); Effie Photos Jones (Glasgow University); Stuart Rathbone (ACS);
Fiona Reilly (VJK); Stuart Reilly (ACS); Ian Russell (ACS); Rory Sherlock (Sheila
Lane Ltd); Brian Sloan (Centre for Archaeological Fieldwork, QUB); Rachel Sloane
(ACS); John Soderberg (University of Minnesota); Lena Strid (Oxford Archaeology

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Ltd); Claudia Tommasino Surez (Headland Archaeology); Bruce Sutton (VJK);
Kate Taylor (TVAS Ireland); Martha Tierney (Eachtra); John Tierney (Eachtra);
Alys Vaughan-Williams (VJK); Claire Walsh (Archaeological Projects Ltd); Gerry
Walsh (Mayo County Council); Auli Tourunen (Headland Archaeology); Fintan
Walsh (IAC); Brendon Wilkins (Headland Archaeology); Tim Young (GeoArch);
and Suzanne Zajac (Mayo County Council), as well as Neil Carlin, Ann Connon,
John Channing, Margaret Gowen, Margaret Murphy and Paul Stevens.
We also thank our many colleagues from universities, higher education and
research institutes in Ireland and abroad, who generously supported EMAP and
provided us with publications, news, information, advice and material for our EMAP
reports and this book. We are especially grateful to John Bradley (NUI Maynooth);
Edel Bhreathnach (The Discovery Programme); Colin Breen and Tom McErlean
(University of Ulster, Coleraine); Billy OBrien, Rose Cleary, Mick Monk, Barra
Donnabhin, Toms Carragin, Colin Rynne and John Sheehan (University College
Cork); Gabriel Cooney, Tadhg OKeeffe, Muiris OSullivan, Stephen Davis, Alan
Peatfield, Helen Lewis, Graeme Warren, Ron Pinhasi, Rob Sands, Conor McDermott
and Angela McAteer (University College Dublin); Joanna Brck (University of
Bristol, formerly of UCD); Marion Dowd, Chris Read, Sam Moore, Fiona Beglane
and Shirley Markey (Institute of Technology Sligo); Stephen Harrison (TCD);
Audrey Horning, Emily Murray and Colm Donnelly (Queens UniversityBelfast);
Conor Newman, Elizabeth FitzPatrick and Michelle Comber (NUI Galway);
Fergus Kelly (Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies); Chris Loveluck (University
of Nottingham); Helena Hamerow, David Griffiths (University of Oxford); Stephen
Driscoll, Ewan Campbell (University of Glasgow), Nancy Edwards (Bangor
University); Gabor Thomas (University of Reading); Simon Gilmour (Society of
Antiquaries of Scotland); Gareth Davies (Trent and Peak Archaeology); Chris Lowe
(Headland Archaeology); Mark Redknapp (National Museum of Wales); Sally Foster
(University of Glasgow); Rachel Scott (University of Chicago); John Barber and
Anne Crone (AOC Scotland); and Mary Valante (Appalachian State University). We
also thank the directors and staff of the research, HR and financial administration
units of both University College Dublin and Queens University Belfast for their
practical support to EMAP over the years.
We thank the staff of several government bodies and cultural institutions
who have supported the project in diverse ways, or have offered their help or advice,
including: Ed Bourke, Ann Lynch, Con Manning, Heather King and Chris Corlett
(National Monuments Service, Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht);
Raghnall Floinn, Pat Wallace, Eamonn P. Kelly, Andy Halpin, Mary Cahill, Fiona
Reilly (National Museum of Ireland); and Ruth Johnson (Dublin City Council). We
also thank Gail Pollock, Rosemary McConkey, John OKeeffe, Maybelline Gormley,
Claire Foley and Jacqueline McDowell (Northern Ireland Environment Agency), and
we acknowledge Christine Baker and the Institute of Archaeologists of Ireland for
their organisation of the EMAP Continuing Professional Development Seminar in
2013. The archaeological staff of the National Roads Authority was also hugely helpful to EMAP, providing us with a range of resources, unpublished reports and publications; we thank in particular Ronn Swan, Mary B. Deevy, James Eogan, Michael
MacDonagh, Jerry OSullivan, Niall Roycroft, Noel Dunne and Michael Stanley.

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When gathering site plans, maps, photographs and reconstruction drawings
for this book, we contacted many of our colleagues, all of whom took the time to
locate and send us images from their own work or resources. So many, indeed, that
we heard that one colleague remarked with amusement to another that the EMAP
book was like a black hole, sucking in most of Irish archaeology! We especially,
and gratefully, acknowledge the following for their help in sourcing images and
giving permissions for their use: Ian Doyle (The Heritage Council); Tony Roche
and Con Brogan (Photographic Unit, National Monuments Service, Department of
Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht); Gail Pollock and Rosemary McConkey (Northern
Ireland Environment Agency); Gareth Phillips (RAF); Noel Dunne, Mary B. Deevy,
Michael Stanley, James Eogan, Jerry OSullivan, Michael MacDonagh, Martin
Jones, Paul OKeeffe and Bernice Kelly (NRA); Alan Hayden and Conor McHale
(Archaeological Projects Ltd); Richard Gillespie (Mayo County Council); Linzi
Simpson; Matthew Stout (St Patricks College, Drumcondra); Finola OCarroll
(CRDS); Michelle Comber (NUI Galway); John Tierney and Finn Delaney (Eachtra);
Frank Coyne (Aegis Archaeology); Fintan Walsh (Irish Archaeological Consultancy);
Rob OHara and Aidan OConnell (Archer Heritage); Valerie J. Keeley (VJK Ltd);
Michael Potterton (Four Courts Press); Kate Taylor, Nora Bermingham and Aisling
Mulcahy (TVAS Ireland); Deirdre Murphy (ACS); Daniel Tietzsch-Tyler; Colin
Rynne, John Sheehan and Toms Carragin (UCC); Claire Walsh; Jenny White
Marshall; Grellan D. Rourke; Ciara McCarthy; Neil Jackman; and Rob Sands, Conor
McDermott and Matt Seaver (UCD School of Archaeology). We particularly thank
Libby Mulqueeny (Queens University Belfast) for providing some of the site plans
and maps used in this volume.
Over the years, the Early Medieval Archaeology Project team in UCD
and QUB has included several Irish archaeologists, site directors, archaeological
researchers, archaeological scientists and associated PhD scholars and Postdoctoral
Fellows. We thank them all for their input to our various discussions and their invaluable help in the research, writing and production of this book. Our gratitude to the
EMAP team members in particular: Conor McDermott, Rob Sands, Rob OHara,
Maureen Doyle, Jonathan Kinsella, Meriel McClatchie and Matthew Seaver; and we
thank the PhD and Postdoctoral Research Fellow members of the Early Medieval
and Viking Age Research Group at UCD for their inspiring discussions: Louise
Nugent, Sharon Douglas-Greene, Maureen Doyle, Trona Nicholl, Matt Seaver,
Denise Keating, Brian Dolan, Brendan ONeill, Paul Stevens, Rebecca Boyd, Terry
OHagan, Susan Curran, Margaret Williams, John Nicholl, Eileen Reilly, Stephen
Harrison, Meriel McClatchie and Mario Novak. We also acknowledge the support
of EMAPs International Expert Group, whose members have variously advised or
helped the project over the years: Martin Carver, Nancy Edwards, Stephen Driscoll,
David Griffiths, Mick Monk, John Bradley, Chris Corlett, Niall Brady, Brian Lacey,
Betty OBrien, Stephen Mandal, Finola OCarroll, Toms Carragin and Ronn
Swan. We have also been fortunate in that several of our colleagues have inspired us
through our collaborative work with them, have offered insights, or have previously
read and commented on various chapters in early draft form. In that regard we particularly thank Betty OBrien, Claire McCutcheon, Ian Doyle, Gabriel Cooney, Alison
Kyle, Emily Murray, Trona Nicholl, Maureen Doyle, Mary B. Deevy, Ronn Swan,

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Terry OHagan, Stephen Harrison, Amanda Kelly and Brian Dolan. Thanks especially to Matt Seaver and Stephen Harrison, who, generously providing from their
own knowledge and expertise, helped us re-write the chapter on death and burial.
Obviously, any and all errors in the book remain our own responsibility. Finally, as
authors we thank our families for their understanding and support through the many
evenings and weekends of absences as we were completing this book.
This book greatly benefitted from the comments of the two anonymous
reviewers selected by the Royal Irish Academy. These reviewers subsequently chose to
waive their anonymity, so we can express our gratitude and appreciation here to Martin
Carver and Michael Ryan for their excellent advice and suggestions. We also thank
the Royal Irish Academy itself for publishing the book. We will be forever indebted to
Helena King and Ruth Hegarty of the Academys Publications Office for their help in
bringing it through the entire editing and production process to fruition. Many thanks
also to their colleague Fidelma Slattery for her work on designing the cover.
We gratefully acknowledge that this book and the research project behind
it was supported by the Heritage Council under the Irish National Strategic
Archaeological Research (INSTAR) programme, funded by the National Monuments
Service of the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht.
Aidan OSullivan
Finbar McCormick
Thomas R. Kerr
Lorcan Harney
Dublin and Belfast
Halloween/Samhain, 31 October 2013


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List of Figures

Chapter 1
Fig. 1.1Map of Ireland, showing modern counties and their boundaries.

Chapter 2
Fig. 2.1Sen P. Rordins excavation plan (1942) of the multivallate rath at
Garranes, Co. Cork.
Fig. 2.2Graph illustrating the initially slow progress of excavation of early medieval
sites; followed by a rapid rate of increase from the 1990s onwards; then the explosive
growth of excavations through the years of the Celtic Tiger economy, 200207; and the
subsequent recent decline.
Fig. 2.3Pie charts illustrating on a decade by decade basis the changing roles
of state, university, commercial and other sectors in early medieval archaeological
excavations in Ireland, 1920s2000s.
Fig. 2.4Number of excavations of early medieval sites and potential early medieval sites organised by county for the years 192096 and 19972009.
Fig. 2.5The significance of archaeological excavations at or close to early medieval
sites, by county.
Fig. 2.6Numbers of early medieval excavations in, respectively, the Republic of
Ireland and Northern Ireland (1920s2009).
Fig. 2.7Map of Ireland, showing county boundaries and locations and types of
some of the early medieval sites to be discussed in this book.

Chapter 3
Fig. 3.1Map indicating the widespread distribution of over 47,000 early medieval
ringforts throughout Ireland.
Fig. 3.2Artists reconstruction painting of a hypothetical early medieval rath, with
its enclosure defences, entrance, interior structures and activities.
Fig. 3.3The early medieval cashel and cemeteryand possible wooden church
or oratoryat Owenbristy, Co. Galway, as it might have appeared in about ad 700.
Fig. 3.4Site plan of Parknahown 5, Co. Laois, an early medieval settlement-cemetery
with burials in the interior.
Fig. 3.5Reconstruction drawing of Parknahown 5, Co. Laois, an early medieval
settlement-cemetery as it might have appeared c. ad 800.
Fig. 3.6Distribution map indicating the distribution of cranng sites, with some
dating from prehistory, but mostly of early medieval and late medieval date.
Fig. 3.7Chronology of Irish early medieval settlement enclosure, showing the sum
of probability curves for radiocarbon dates from the five main early medieval secular
site types.
Fig. 3.8Early medieval settlement enclosures complex at Twomileborris, Co.

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List of Figures
Fig. 3.9The early medieval palisaded and ditched enclosure complex at Lowpark,
Co. Mayo.
Fig. 3.10Matthew Stouts normative model of the social organisiation of the early
medieval landscape based on cluster analysis of raths in the baronies of Clonlisk
and Ikerrin in counties Offaly and Tipperary.
Fig. 3.11The early medieval rath at Deer Park Farms, Co. Antrim, a site plan showing
its Phase 6A features, radiocarbon dated to the late-seventh- to eighth-century ad.
Fig. 3.12Plans of selected early medieval houses and buildings: figure-of-eight
round house; rectilnear house; and location and associations of rectilinear and round
house within a stone cashel.
Fig. 3.13 Plan of a single early medieval figure-of-eight dwelling structure, composed
of two conjoined round houses, Structure X and Zeta, in the Phase 6A occupation layers
at Deer Park Farms, Co. Antrim.
Fig. 3.14Plan of settlement enclosure at Newtown A, Co. Limerick.
Fig. 3.15Plan and reconstruction of large round house, in Phase 5, and probably
dated to the late eighth century ad at Moynagh Lough cranng, Co. Meath.
Fig. 3.16Distribution map showing the location of the 3,500 souterrains known in
Fig. 3.17Plan of early medieval House 4 and souterrain from the unenclosed early
medieval farmstead, Site 1, Bray Head, Valentia Island, Co. Kerry.
Fig. 3.18Plan of unenclosed early medieval round house excavated in sand dunes
at Doonloughan, Co. Galway.
Fig. 3.19Reconstruction of how houses and properties may have looked in the
late-tenth century in one part of the east side of Viking Dublin.
Fig. 3.20Plan and reconstruction of Viking Type 1 house from Dublin, showing
the three-aisled structure and the potential organisation of the domestic space within
the house.

Chapter 4
Fig. 4.1Map indicating the distribution of early medieval ecclesiastical sites,
enclosures, churches, round towers and high crosses around Ireland.
Fig. 4.2Layout of an early medieval monastic enclosure as depicted in the lateeighth-century Irish pocket gospel book, the Book of Mulling.
Fig. 4.3Plans of wooden churches at Iniscealtra, Co. Clare; Illaunloughan and
Caherlehillan, Co. Kerry; Carnsore Point, Co. Wexford; Church Island, Co. Kerry;
Cormacs Chapel, Cashel, Co. Tipperary; Derry, Co. Down; and Dunmisk, Co. Tyrone.
Fig. 4.4Plan of the stone church at Croagh Patrick, Co. Mayo.
Fig. 4.5Plan of church on High Island, Co. Galway, showing church, altar, aumbry
and its location within a stone enclosure.
Fig. 4.6Plan showing the location of the probable tomb shrine to the south of the
large oratory on Skellig Michael, Co. Kerry.

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List of Figures
Fig. 4.7Plan of the gable shrine at Illaunloughan, Co. Kerry.
Fig. 4.8Plan showing the location of two leachta at Relickoran, Inishmurray, Co.
Sligo, and indicating their positioning in relation to earlier burials at the site.
Fig. 4.9Plan of the leacht and enclosing wall with narrow south-facing entrance at
Trahanareear, Inishmurray, Co. Sligo.
Fig. 4.10Plan of the round tower at Devenish, Co. Fermanagh.
Fig. 4.11Plan of the round house at Church Island, Co. Kerry, showing location of
hearth, bed, entrance and drain feature.
Fig. 4.12Plan of the monastery at High Island, Co. Galway.
Fig. 4.13Reconstruction drawing of the early medieval monastery on High Island,
Co. Galway, as it might have appeared in about ad 1200.

Chapter 5
Fig. 5.1Plan of the early medieval Cahercommaun stone cashel, Co. Clare, showing
the circular arrangement of small fields surrounding the cashel.
Fig. 5.2Plan of the early medieval settlement-cemetery at Balriggan, Co. Louth.
Fig. 5.3Plan showing the early medieval settlement-cemetery at Raystown, Co. Meath.
Fig. 5.4Plan of the early medieval settlement enclosure at Ballynakelly, Co. Dublin.
Fig. 5.5Plan of the early medieval settlement at Dowdstown 2, Co. Meath.
Fig. 5.6Plan of the impressive and probably lordly rath at Baronstown 1, Co. Meath.
Fig. 5.7Plan of the settlement site at Sallymount, Co. Limerick.
Fig. 5.8Plan of the site at Drumadoon, Co. Antrim.
Fig. 5.9Site plan of the main features of the spectacularly well-preserved horizontal
watermill at Kilbegly, Co. Roscommon.
Fig. 5.10Dendrochronological dates from a selection of Irish early medieval
horizontal and vertical water mills.
Fig. 5.11Map showing the distribution of a selection of known horizontal and
vertical water mills in Ireland.

Chapter 6
Fig. 6.1Plan of the early medieval Phase 3 occupation at Lowpark, Co. Mayo,
showing the location of ironworking Areas 14 and additional ironworking features.
Fig. 6.2Artists reconstruction of an early medieval ironworking workshop or shelter,
based on the excavation of Ironworking Area 4 at Lowpark, Co. Mayo.
Fig. 6.3Map showing the distribution of iron ore, raised bogs (a source of ores) and
early medieval Irish ironworking sites.
Fig. 6.4The wooden finds from the Baronstown 1 site, Co. Meath, and the reconstructed wooden stave-built butter churn from Lissue, Co. Antrim.

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List of Figures

Chapter 7
Fig. 7.1Imported Phocaean Red Slip Ware (PRSW) bowl sherds, excavated at the
multivallate rath of Garranes, Co. Cork.
Fig. 7.2Map indicating the distribution of imported Mediterranean pottery of early
medieval date found in Ireland.
Fig. 7.3Late Roman Amphora 1 (Bii ware) sherds from Vessel no. 27, excavated at
the multivallate rath of Garranes. Co. Cork.
Fig. 7.4 Late Roman Amphora 1 (Bii ware) sherds from Vessel no. 28, excavated
at the multivallate rath of Garranes. Co. Cork.
Fig. 7.5Late Roman Amphora 2 (Bi ware) sherds excavated at Garranes, Co. Cork.
Fig. 7.6Map showing the distribution of E ware on early medieval sites throughout
Fig. 7.7E ware jar (E1) and lid (E5) recovered during excavations at Caherlehillan,
Co. Kerry.

Chapter 8
Fig. 8.1Site plan of an early medieval inhumation burial at Kiltullagh, Co.
Fig. 8.2Site plan of the early medieval burials within a pennanular enclosure at
Ardsallagh 1, Co. Meath.
Fig. 8.3Site plan of early medieval unenclosed cemetery at Garadice, Co. Meath.
Fig. 8.4Plan of the early medieval settlement-cemetery at Carrigatogher (Harding),
Co. Tipperary.


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List of Plates

Chapter 1
Pl. I.IAerial photograph of an early medieval stone-built enclosure or cashel at
Dn Eochla, on Inis Mr, one of the Aran Islands, Co. Galway, set amongst a palimpsest of late medieval and post-medieval field enclosures.
Pl. I.IIEarly medieval rath at Rathangan, Co. Kildare.

Chapter 2
Pl. II.IThe Harvard Archaeological Expeditions excavations at Ballinderry
Cranng No. 2, Co. Offaly, in the summer of 1933.
Pl. II.IIA selection of some of the key publications on early medieval archaeological excavations in mid-twentieth century Ireland.
Pl. II.IIIArchaeological excavations by Chris Lynn and Jacqueline McDowell at
the early medieval raised rath at Deer Park Farms, Co. Antrim, showing the external
revetment of the rath exposed in 1987.
Pl. II.IVExcavations by archaeologists working for Margaret Gowen and Co.
Ltd (MGL) at eleventh-century Viking houses and house plots at Temple Bar West,
Dublin, on the banks of the River Liffey in 1998.
Pl. II.VRoestown 2, Co. Meath, early medieval settlement site excavated in
20056 in advance of work on the M3 motorway scheme.

Chapter 3
Pl. III.IThree early medieval univallate raths at Ballinderry townland, Co.
Pl. III.IIRathgurreen bivallate ringfort, Co. Galway.
Pl. III.IIIExcavation of the raised rath at Deer Park Farms, Co. Antrim.
Pl. III.IVDromena stone cashel, Co. Down.
Pl. III.VExcavations at Owenbristy cashel, Co. Galway, showing enclosing stone
Pl. III.VICoolure Demesne cranng, Lough Derravaragh, Co. Westmeath.
Pl. III.VIIReconstruction of the early medieval cranng at Coolure Demesne,
Lough Derravaragh, Co. Westmeath.
Pl. III.VIIICahercarbery Beg promontory fort, on the Atlantic coast at Kerry
Head, Co. Kerry.
Pl. III.IXThe impressive, defensive enclosing ditch at the early medieval
Baronstown ringfort, Co. Meath.
Pl. III.XView of early medieval round house Structure X, at Deer Park Farms,
Co. Antrim, crossed at this particular stage of the site excavation by the sites main
north-south section.


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List of Plates
Pl. III.XIView from the west of early medieval round house Structure Eta, in
Phase 6B at Deer Park Farms, Co. Antrim.
Pl. III.XIIArchaeologists excavating the rath enclosure ditch and the internal souterrain at Carn More 1, Co. Louth.
Pl. III.XIIIExcavating the souterrain associated with the settlement enclosure at
Newtownbalregan, Co. Louth.
Pl. III.XIVEarly medieval unenclosed farmstead at Bray Head, Valentia Island,
Co. Kerry.
Pl. III.XVView of unenclosed early medieval round house at Doonloughan, Co.
Pl. III.XVIAerial view of the Viking longphort site on the banks of the River Suir
at Woodstown 6, Co. Waterford.

Chapter 4
Pl. IV.IView across the main monastic complex on Skellig Michael, Co. Kerry,
showing the rear of the monastic cells and the view across to Little Skellig and the
Pl. IV.IIAerial view of the monastery site at Nendrum, Co. Down.
Pl. IV.IIIThe early medieval church at Illaunloughan, Co. Kerry, under excavation.
Pl. IV.IVRemains of Liathmore round tower, Co. Tipperary, during excavation,
illustrating its foundations.
Pl. IV.VAerial view of the excavated and reconstructed island monastic settlement
at Illaunloughan, Co. Kerry.
Pl. IV.VIAerial photograph of the Small Oratory Terrace at Skellig Michael, Co.
Pl. IV.VIIAerial photograph of the early medieval monastic complex at
Clonmacnoise, Co. Offaly.

Chapter 5
Pl. V.IAerial view of Cahercommaun stone cashel, Co. Clare.
Pl. V.IIAerial view of a system of rectilinear field-systems radiocarbon dated to
the early medieval period, laid out adjacent to a probable early medieval rath, at
Boyerstown 3, Co. Meath.
Pl. V.IIIAerial view of the settlement site at Newtownbalregan 6, Co. Louth.
Pl. V.IVAerial view of the early medieval plectrum-shaped settlement enclosure
at Newtown A, Co. Limerick.
Pl. V.VAerial view of the early medieval settlement complex at Roestown, Co.


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List of Plates
Pl. V.VIOak spade from the early medieval horizontal watermill at Kilbegly, Co.
Pl. V.VIIThe early medieval horizontal water mill at Kilbegly, Co. Roscommon,
under excavation.

Chapter 6
Pl. VI.IGeneral view of the multi-period site at Lowpark, Co. Mayo, under
Pl. VI.IICollection of images from the early medieval ironworking areas at
Lowpark, Co. Mayo: view of Ironworking Area 4; three clay tuyres; a rotary grindstone; a selection of iron knives; an iron buckle and iron buckle frame; and a stone
with socket to hold a blacksmiths anvil.
Pl. VI.IIICopper-alloy ringed-pins recovered during the excavations at Lowpark,
Co. Mayo.
Pl. VI.IVCopper-alloy pins recovered during the excavations of the early medieval
settlement enclosure at Castlefarm, Co. Meath.
Pl. VI.V Selection of glass beads recovered during the excavations at the early
medieval settlement enclosure at Castlefarm, Co. Meath.
Pl. VI.VISelection of stone objects recovered during the excavations at the early
medieval settlement enclosure at Roestown 2, Co. Meath: a stone game board, a
stone lamp or crucible and a spindle whorl.

Chapter 7
Pl. VII.ISherd of Phocaean Red Slip Ware and fragment of LRA 1 (Bii Ware)
recovered during excavations at the Iron Age/early medieval burial site at Collierstown
1, Co. Meath.
Pl. VII.IISherds of Late Roman amphorae, LRA 1 (Bii ware), from excavations at
Garranes, Co. Cork.
Pl. VII.IIISherds of imported Late Roman amphorae, LRA 1 (Bii ware), recovered
during excavations at Iron Age/Early medieval burial site at Collierstown 1, Co.
Pl. VII.IVSherds of Late Roman 2 amphorae (Bi-ware) recovered during excavation at Garranes, Co. Cork.
Pl. VII.VSherds of an E ware jar excavated at the church settlement at Caherlehillan,
Co. Kerry.
Pl. VII.VIFragment of an E ware lid recovered during excavations at Kiltrough,
near the Boyne Estuary, Co. Meath.
Pl. VII.VIIView towards Dalkey Island, from Coliemore Harbour, Dalkey, Co.


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List of Plates
Pl. VII.VIIIDunnyneill Island, situated at the southern end of Strangford Lough,
Co. Down.
Pl. VII.IXEighth-century decorated stone slab with a depiction of an ocean-going
vesseleither a currach or a wooden vesselfound at the early medieval ecclesiastical site of Kilnaruane, Co. Cork.

Chapter 8
Pl. VIII.IAerial view of the early medieval cemetery excavated at Collierstown,
Co. Meath, dated from the fifth to the ninth century ad and involving a series of
enclosures, monumental actions, settlement and economic activities and varying
burial practices over time.
Pl. VIII.IIEarly medieval burial in a lintelled grave, excavated at Collierstown,
Co. Meath.
Pl. VIII.IIIEarly medieval burials in an earth-cut grave and a stone-lined grave
excavated at Collierstown, Co. Meath.
Pl. VIII.IV Early medieval burials of two individuals in a wood-lined grave at
Collierstown, Co. Meath.
Pl. VIII.VEarly medieval burial with earmuffsstones placed either side of,
and supporting, the skullexcavated at the early medieval settlement-cemetery at
Parknahown 5, Co. Laois.
Pl. VIII.VIAerial view of the excavations at the early medieval enclosure at
Owenbristy, Co. Galway, potentially to be interpreted as a church site or settlement-cemetery, as it appeared during flood conditions.
Pl. VIII.VIIView of grave rows in the burial ground at the early medieval enclosure
at Owenbristy, Co. Galway.
Pl. VIII.VIIIEarly medieval burial at Killeany, Co. Laois, showing the grave during
excavation with a bone paternoster visible with the burial; and the bone paternoster
following excavation and conservation.
Pl. VIII.IXEarly medieval burial at Kiltullagh, Co. Roscommon, associated with a
possible prehistoric standing stone, Iron Age cremation pits and a ring barrow.
Pl. VIII.XAerial view of an early medieval pennanular burial enclosure under
excavation at Ardsallagh 1, Co. Meath.
Pl. VIII.XIAerial view of three small ring-ditches, an Iron Age linear boundary
ditch and a large Iron Age enclosure excavated at Holdenstown 1, Co. Kilkenny.
Pl. VIII.XIIThe early medieval church at Reefert, Glendalough, Co. Wicklow,
surrounded by ninth- to eleventh-century sculptured cross-slabs and two c. ninth/
tenth-century high crosses, some of them presumably associated with burials.
Pl. VIII.XIIIAerial view of the early medieval settlement-cemetery site at
Parknahown 5, Co. Laois, during excavation.


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List of Plates
Pl. VIII.XIVAerial view of the northern section of the early medieval settlement-cemetery site at Raystown, Co. Meath, during excavation.
Pl. VIII.XVEarly medieval inhumation burial from Raystown, Co. Meath, with
evidence for the careful placing within the graveacross the hips and at the feet of
the individualof human bones from disturbed previous burials.
Pl. VIII.XVIAerial view of the early medieval settlement-cemetery site at
Carrigatogher (Harding), Co. Tipperary.
Pl. VIII.XVIIArchaeologists recording a furnished Viking grave discovered during
excavations at Woodstown 6, Co. Waterford.
Pl. VIII.XVIIIViking grave at Woodstown 6, Co. Waterford, during excavation.


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