2016 Programme and Abstracts

Space and Settlement in the Middle Ages VII
Friday 20th and Saturday 21st May 2016
Trinity Long Room Hub

Friday 20th May 2016

9.15-9.45           Registration

9.45-10.00         Welcome and Opening Remarks

10.00-11.30       Session 1: Community Archaeology and Medieval Futures
Jason Bolton, JBolton Conservation, ‘The medieval future – what to preserve, what to cast away?’
Christine Baker, ‘Walls, Pottery & People-Digging History in Swords Castle’
Stephen Mandal, CRDS/IAFS, ‘Engaging communities in their heritage – site preservation and economic gain in Trim, County Meath’

11.30-12.00        Tea/Coffee Break

12.00-13.15        Session 2: Medieval Climate Change and Reaction
Jim Galloway, Carlow, ‘North Sea Storms in the Later Middle Ages: Harbinger of Climate Change?’*
Poul Holm, Trinity College Dublin, ‘Landscapes of the North Atlantic Fisheries, c1400-1700’

13.15-14.30        Lunch

14.30-16.00        Session 3: Genetics & Archaeology Workshop
Matthew Teasdale, Trinity College Dublin, ‘Paging through history: sheep parchment as a 1,000 year genetic resource’
Rui Martiniano, Trinity College Dublin, ‘Genomic signals of migration and continuity in Roman Britain’
Lara Cassidy, Trinity College Dublin, ‘Unlocking Irish prehistory through ancient genomes’
Chaired by Prof Dan Bradley, Smurfit Institute of Genetics, Trinity College Dublin

16.00-16.30        Tea/Coffee Break

16.30-17.30        Keynote Address
Professor Audrey Horning, Queen’s University Belfast, ‘A Climate for Change?: approaching the archaeology of cultural entanglements in 16C-17C Ireland’
Chaired by Prof. Terry Barry, Trinity College Dublin

18.30                  Conference Reception ‘The Long Stone’, 11 Townsend Street, Dublin 2

Saturday 21st May 2016

9.45-10.00          Registration

10.00-11.30        Session 4: Monastic Ireland
Keith Smith, Trinity College Dublin, ‘Patronage networks of the religious orders with a focus on ecclesiastical metalwork.’
John Tighe, Trinity College Dublin, ‘Death, burial and settlement patterns in early medieval Ireland’

11.30-12.00        Tea/Coffee Break

12.00-13.30        Session 5: Space and Landscape
Stephen Harrison, University of Glasgow, ‘The Living and the Dead – Landscapes of Landnam in Britain and Ireland’.
Karen Dempsey, ‘Formal places and Intimate spaces: what have we been missing…? Examining the indicators for social uses of space in some medieval castles’

13.30-13.45 Closing Remarks
Prof. Terry Barry, Department of History, Trinity College Dublin

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*Programme change: Jim Galloway will present ‘North Sea Storms in the Later Middle Ages: Harbinger of Climate Change?’ in Session 5: Space and Landscape on Saturday 21st May (12.00-13.30pm).

Abstracts

Christine Baker, ‘Walls, Pottery & People–Digging History in Swords Castle’
Swords Castle is not a castle, certainly not in the accepted sense but a medieval episcopal residence. Attributed to the first Anglo-Norman Archbishop of Dublin, John Comyn, it was founded in the later 12th century as an administrative centre of an extremely wealthy manor. Commanding the north end of the medieval High Street of the North Dublin County town, it consists of over an acre of sloping ground, enclosed by a partially crenelated curtain wall. Entered by a gatehouse there are the extant remains of the Knights & Squires; the Chapel; The Archbishop’s Apartment and the Constable’s tower.
Swords Castle: Digging History is a multi-faceted community archaeology project combining a series of public and art-based events with two seasons of research excavation within the precinct of the castle. The objectives of Season 1 (2015) were manifold but primarily were to answer archaeological research questions; ground truth the geophysical survey results and inform the stabilisation works.
Swords Castle: Digging History is the first excavation run directly by a local authority under the auspices of a community archaeologist and has proved a real success in terms of filling knowledge gaps, engaging people directly with their local heritage and encouraging visitor participation and interaction with Swords Castle.

Stephen Mandal, IAFS, ‘Engaging communities in their heritage – site preservation and economic gain in Trim, County Meath’
The Blackfriary Community Heritage and Archaeology Project (BCHAP) is a joint initiative of several partners, including the Irish Archaeology Field School (IAFS), Cultural Tourism Ireland, Trim Municipal District, Meath Country Council, statutory organisations, a range of academic partners and, crucially, the local community. BCHAP can be summarised as having two main objectives – (A) to provide heritage community outreach and education events, helping to further enthuse the Trim community on their fantastic medieval heritage and (B) to help rehabilitate the Black Friary site into a valuable amenity/green space for the local community of Trim. Both these objectives are in keeping with the founding principle of BCHAP – to help protect the heritage of the Black Friary site.  This paper will summarise the wide range of community initiatives that have been undertaken since the commencement of the project in 2010.

Poul Holm, Trinity College Dublin, ‘Landscapes of the North Atlantic Fisheries, c1400-1700’
The landscapes of the North Atlantic provide an early example of the disrupting effects of globalisation and climate change. The talk investigates the consequences of the Atlantic Fish Revolution along the coasts from the Irish Sea to Northern Norway.
Fish was a high-priced, limited resource in the Late Middle Ages, and coastal fishing settlements thrived – often outside the regular urban and agrarian context. In 1497, John Cabot returned to Bristol from a voyage across the North Atlantic. He told of waters so thick with fish that they could be lifted straight on board in baskets. Within a few years of this journey fishermen from Spain, the Basque Country and France made the journey across the Atlantic. The Grand Banks fishery offered abundant high-quality low-priced catches to the early-modern European market. At the same time climate worsened as the so called ‘Little Ice Age’ drove down sea temperatures and changed marine ecosystems. The upshot of these economic and environmental drivers was large-scale changes in space and settlement in the Old as well as the New World. These changes are the focus of a new five-year research project at TCD, and the talk will present some early findings.

Jim Galloway, Carlow, ‘North Sea Storms in the Later Middle Ages: Harbinger of Climate Change?’
The later middle ages have long had a reputation as a stormy period, particularly in the lands bordering the North Sea. Storm surges – major storms fuelled by low pressure, winds and tides – periodically overwhelmed reclaimed lands, and led to the long-term flooding of considerable areas in the Low Countries and eastern England. Settlements were abandoned, lives lost and landscapes remoulded. This paper describes some major floods and their impact, and asks if there was a clear trend to increasing storminess in the later middle ages, connected to the transition to a colder climate.

Audrey Horning, Queen’s University Belfast, ‘A Climate for Change? Exploring cultural entanglements in in 16th-17th-century Ireland’
The climate under consideration in this discussion is cultural rather than atmospheric. The aim is to reconsider the character of cultural entanglements in Ireland in the period 1550-1650; that 100 year period marked by warfare, the implementation of plantation, and arguably, the emergence of something vaguely termed modernity. Longstanding, popular historical narratives presume a monumental clash of cultures between distinct groups of people that inexorably led to later conflicts on this island. But what if we instead ‘do history backwards’- in other words to stop looking at the period from the standpoint of knowing how it all played out, and instead try to envision the emic perspective of those people in the past who had no ability to predict a long distant future. In this talk I will consider both theoretical frameworks and archaeological and documentary evidence to help understand how all of the peoples on the ground in Ireland may have conceived of themselves, their identities, and their changing circumstances while in the midst of what may- or may not- have been a truly unique climate of change marked by conflict, uncertainty, and cultural transformation.

Keith Smith, Trinity College Dublin, ‘Patronage networks of the religious orders with a focus on ecclesiastical metalwork’
This paper will examine the patronage networks of the religious orders in Ireland in the 16th and 17th centuries, with a focus on the use of material culture, and in particular metal work, as a key historical source.  It will consider the patrons who supported the religious orders and their houses and how the waxing and waning of their power and prestige was reflected in the prosperity, and indeed preservation, of the religious foundations under their care and visibly evident in the material culture of these houses.  An overview of the historical context will be followed by the presentation of a number of case studies from around the island of Ireland, which reveal the varied fortunes of religious houses under the care of politically active patrons during one of the most turbulent periods of Irish history.

John Tighe, Trinity College Dublin, ‘Death, burial and settlement patterns in early medieval Ireland’
Tilly talked about how mythologies were used to express people’s role in the landscape, and there were few things more permanent in the landscape than cemeteries. The changes in burial practices in early medieval Ireland can be used to explore both the socio-religious and political changes in this period.
The family-orientated fertae, were used throughout the period of transition of conversion to Christianity. These were often situated on the boundaries of territories, and would have been used as tools of legitimation to create or re-iterate a corporate group’s control of territory. The community cemeteries that emerged in the later part of this period signalled a change in family loyalties, from the gelfhine to the derbhfine. These larger cemeteries seem also to signal a time when there is both a centralisation of settlements as well as a centralisation of power in a smaller number of kingdoms.
The siting of cemeteries is as deliberate as the rituals that were part of burial practices. The cognitive aspect of this decision will be explored to show the transition of belief from a pagan belief system and a Christian one from a side other than that provided from the scriptoria of the monasteries.

Stephen Harrison, University of Glasgow, ‘The Living and the Dead – Landscapes of Landnám in Britain and Ireland’
‘Viking’ graves, furnished with weapons and artefacts, are a key source of evidence for early Viking activity in Britain and Ireland. Often, they are explicitly linked to raiding activity, but this paper argues that the majority of graves are associated with settlement, and with the process of landnám – land-taking. These graves were created by families and communities who sought to link themselves to the locality through their dead. However, the relationship between settlement and burial sites was complex, with graves often situation at the edges of landholdings rather than their core. It is also clear that graves were created at existing prehistoric or early medieval monuments, where they may have served to link incoming communities to more ancient, local pasts. In all cases, ‘Viking’ burial sites were carefully selected to make explicit socio-political statements, literally embedding communities in the landscape.

Karen Dempsey, ‘Formal places and Intimate spaces: what have we been missing……? Examining the indicators for social uses of space in some medieval castles’
Castles of varying sizes were constructed and occupied by a spectrum of elite households. These variations in scale and type reflect material expression of social differences. In conjunction with the erection of stone curtain walls or the establishment of towns, these were visible statements of their patrons’ rank and power within the Anglo-Norman hierarchy. Little of the above is contentious; however, when we examine castles at a closer scale it becomes very clear that our understanding of how these spaces functioned as elite residences is an entirely different matter. How people may have lived within these buildings – the social use of space – is almost entirely unexamined.
This situation is at least partly due to the fact that the hall – one of the most important buildings of the medieval castle– has long been misidentified at many castle sites in Ireland. The medieval hall had a very particular role as a venue for ceremony and administration, but it also served as a symbolic place of power of the patron and household. It was a space understood to be ‘public’ in the medieval period. At the opposite end of this scale is the chamber – the apparent ‘private’ space of elite residents. Recent research has demonstrated that many ‘hall-houses’ were in fact chamber-towers accompanied by now lost timber-built ground-floor halls. In light of this, we can accept that during the thirteenth century, the hall and chamber were typically separate structures within castle-complexes.
This demarcation between the ‘public’ and ‘private’ sides of medieval life appears to have been mirrored within some of the chambers in Ireland. Careful examination of their architecture reveals that the first-floor spaces of these buildings were likely to have been divided into more and less ‘private’ spaces. The construction and use of these ‘rooms’ discloses the intimate social practices of the medieval world. We must be mindful that only certain elements survive, left are the tantalising gaps which we must ‘reconstruct’ whilst remaining open to the idea that these spaces were ultimately occupied by people – the households – who made choices about how to use and live in them (within the constraints of their traditions).

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