Landscapes of kingship in early medieval Ireland, AD 400–1150

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Gleeson, Patrick
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University College Cork
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This thesis explores the evolution of kingship in early medieval Ireland (AD 400–1150) through a kingdom based and multi-scalar approach to royal landscapes. Through exploring the role of place and landscape in the construction of early medieval Irish kingship, this study will assess the relationship between the social, economic and ideological roles of the king in Irish society. Kingship in Ireland was vested in places, such that royal landscapes were the pre-eminent symbol of regality and authority. As such, an interdisciplinary study of kingship grounded in archaeological methodologies has a unique potential to contribute to our knowledge of the practice of kingship. Consequently, this research considers the material apparatus of different scales of kingships and explores the role of landscape in the construction of kingship and the evolution of kingdoms. It takes two major case studies; (i) Cashel, Munster and the Éoganachta federation; and (ii) the Uí Néill, Tara and the Síl nÁedo Sláine kingdom of Brega. Through interdisciplinary methodologies it charts the genesis and development of political federations, focusing specifically on the role that royal landscapes’ played in their evolution. Similarly, this thesis engages critically with the nature of assembly places and practices in Ireland, and focuses specifically on issues pertaining to the nature of assembly and the archaeological manifestation of such practices. It includes a list of 115 landscapes identified as assembly places, and through the analysis of this material, this thesis examines the ways in which different types of royal sites articulated together to create royal landscapes implicated in the exercise of kingship, and the construction and maintenance of authority. Moreover, through the analysis of assembly places within the context of the development of kingdoms, and structures of jurisdiction and administration, it also investigates the evolution of supra-regional scales of identity and community associated with the emergence of major political federations in early medieval Ireland.
Medieval , Kingship , Governance , Conversion and Christianisation , Early medieval history , Early medieval , Landscape archaeology , Iron age Ireland
Gleeson, P. 2014. Landscapes of kingship in early medieval Ireland, AD 400–1150. PhD Thesis, University College Cork.
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