“Elite Settlement and Castles in Gaelic Ireland, 1100-1350 AD”
Presented by Kieran O’Conor, Senior Lecturer, Department of Archaeology, National University of Ireland. What do we mean by ‘Gaelic Ireland’ in the period from the arrival of the Normans in 1169 to the middle of the 14th century? It must be remembered that large parts of Ireland (particularly its western and northern parts) during this time period remained in some way under the control of native Irish (i.e. Gaelic Irish) princes and lords. The Norman conquest of Ireland in the years after 1169 was only partial, unlike England in 1066 which saw the complete takeover of that country by William the Conqueror. The situation in Ireland bears similarity to Wales which also saw the survival of native Welsh princes alongside incoming Norman barons. This lecture will examine (using excavated and fieldwork evidence) the nature of native Irish elite settlement in the period under review and will argue that while there was change, continuity from the pre-Norman early medieval period was seen too. This lecture will discuss such things as the lack of identifiable timber and masonry castles in Gaelic Ireland during these years, the late use of crannogs and ringforts, the Irish adoption of some moated sites as princely residences, native agricultural and military practices and the deliberate use of the past by members of the indigenous elite for contemporary political purposes. Comparisons with Anglo-Norman Ireland will be made in the lecture and the historiography of the study of the archaeology of medieval Gaelic Ireland will also be alluded to in the talk.