Structural carpentry in medieval Ireland: continuity and change

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Geaney, Mary Josephine
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University College Cork
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The study of medieval carpentry is probably one of the most neglected aspects of archaeological research in Ireland. The principal difficulty is the nature of the evidence, in that timber, unless the conditions are right, rarely leaves a trace above ground. The problem is further exacerbated by the fact that not a single medieval timber-framed building has survived in Ireland. Nevertheless, in recent years, in addition to the medieval roof of Dunsoghley, which up to quite recently was thought to be the only surviving roof structure in Ireland, a further eight medieval roof structures have been identified. Furthermore, an extensive corpus of early medieval mills, with evidence for advanced Roman carpentry techniques, has been excavated, while evidence for Viking houses, on what is probably the largest extant Viking settlement in Europe, have also been recovered. Although post and wattle structures dominate the archaeological record of the Viking period, nevertheless, it will be shown that the Roman tradition of carpentry, evidenced in the early medieval mills from the early seventh century, continued in use in the wider Gaelic community. And it is one of the pivotal points of this study, that with the takeover of Dublin by the Gaelic Irish in the late tenth century, this Roman carpentry tradition was gradually assimilated into the carpentry tradition of the Viking towns, which were now largely inhabited by a mixed population of Hiberno-Norse. Evidence for this Gaelic influence can be seen not only in the gradual replacement of the Viking post and wattle house by timber houses with load-bearing walls, but more importantly by the evidence for waterfront structures founded on baseplates with mortise and tenoned uprights on the pre-Norman waterfront in Cork. Furthermore, it will be shown, that the carpentry techniques used to build the Wood Quay revetments, shortly after the Anglo-Norman conquest in AD 1170, supports this contention.
Medieval timber oratories , Medieval carpentry , Viking houses , Medieval bridges , Anglo Norman roofs , Anglo Norman revetments , Hiberno-Norse revetments , Early medieval mills
Geaney, M. J. 2014. Structural carpentry in medieval Ireland: continuity and change. PhD Thesis, University College Cork.