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This collection is made up of doctoral and master theses by research, which have been received in accordance with university regulations.
For more information, please visit the UCD Library Theses Information guide.
Browsing Archaeology Theses by Type "Doctoral Thesis"
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- PublicationThe Blackstairs mountains, south east Ireland: Investigating the archaeological potential of an understudied upland landscape(University College Dublin. School of Archaeology , 2016)
;Based purely on the distribution of recorded monuments, it would be easy toconclude that upland landscapes in Ireland were as sparsely utilised and underpopulated in the past as they are today. Until recently, the Irish uplands have seenlimited archaeological research; however, a growing number of intensive uplandsurveys have begun to indicate that the observed distribution is more likely to be areflection of modern research patterns than a past reality. Despite the increasinginterest in upland research there has been a natural tendency to focus on particularsites or periods in specific regions. By contrast, this thesis examines the BlackstairsMountains, southeast Ireland, through a multi-period assessment of the archaeology ofits uplands. Research in 2011 on a single mountain in the Blackstairs almost doubledthe record of known archaeological sites for the entire upland region. The currentthesis sets out to address the core question of whether this could be replicated acrossthe entire mountain range or if it was an isolated incident. This project was more thana simple exercise in accumulating dots on a distribution map. A landscape-basedapproach was taken to the archaeological remains in order to interpret their spatial andtemporal patterns in the context of the use of the uplands within the wider region.This thesis takes a multi-faceted approach. It includes a critical examination ofwhat it means to study the uplands and why they are important. The value of modernremote sensing datasets in the archaeological investigation of these landscapes isexplored, namely open-source and multispectral satellite imagery and airborne laserscanning. Documentary evidence, archival records, field survey and interaction withlocal farmers and hillwalkers are combined to create a more nuanced understanding ofthe cultural landscape of the Blackstairs Mountains than was previously known. Inparticular, the nineteenth-century use of the uplands forms a special case studyjustified both in its own right, as a key period of Irish archaeology largely excludedfrom the national monument record, and as a bridge to understanding earlier uses ofthis under explored landscape. 1946
- PublicationExploring the uses of Experimental Archaeology in European Archaeological Open-Air Museums. A Critical Study(University College Dublin. School of Archaeology, 2022)
;0000-0002-9216-5464This thesis is a multi and interdisciplinary investigation on the intersection between different areas of research at multiple levels of inquiry. The focus is the intersection between research and public outreach through experimental archaeology in Archaeological Open-Air Museums (AOAMs). This intersection has proven to be problematic in the historical record. The primary purpose was to develop a best practice model at a European level which could meet the highest ethical standards in conjunction with constructive public participation using Citizen Science (CS) approaches. Theoretical level: considerable work was devoted to set a proper theoretical framework and the consequent methodology, with an inquiry across archaeology, life sciences, and social sciences. The theoretical framework is Critical Social Science. The study uses social sciences mixed methodologies (Case Study). Such a structured, new approach has produced interesting theoretical contributions. Methodological level: a new attempt to structure the use of integrated mixed methodologies in experimental archaeology has been outlined within the best practice model. Context level: an online survey was performed in 2018 with the purpose of mapping relational data about the dynamic under scrutiny, in full collaboration with EXARC international network. Once actors and locations were mapped, a pilot study was performed in 2019 using interviews and public observations (Ireland). Qualitative analysis delivered insights for the best practice model. Outputs: due to the Covid19 Pandemic and other restrictions, the best practice model could only be delivered at a theoretical level. Two spin offs of the research work were designed and disseminated using CS approaches: 1. ABADIR: to share the sounds from experimental archaeology and re-enactment (social praxis: integration of makers and researchers; research potential: sensory archaeology). 2. mapping extant ancient technology practices (social praxis: integration of makers and researchers; research potential: integration of classification, experiment, and taxonomy in archaeology). 100
- PublicationHidden depths and empty spaces? A remote sensing approach to the exploration of settlement patterns, identity and social hierarchy in early medieval Ireland (AD 400 - 1100)(University College Dublin. School of Archaeology, 2020)This project investigates the organisation of early medieval settlement in social and ideological terms through the comprehensive application of multiple remote sensing techniques. The study also engages with a range of primary documentary and mapping resources in conjunction with existing excavation evidence. Ireland’s early medieval archaeology is ever-present throughout the modern countryside, a testament to the past communities who inhabited the landscape more than 1,000 years ago. Visible traces of settlement associated with this important period can be found throughout the modern landscape, most commonly in the form of raths, crannogs, cashels, and ecclesiastical sites. This project utilises the wealth of divergent evidence already available for this period, and builds on it by employing a range of non-invasive remote sensing techniques to further enhance our knowledge and understanding. Two case study areas—the first straddling the counties of Leitrim and Roscommon, and the second within the north-eastern portion of County Monaghan—have been selected for analysis, each with varying levels of early medieval settlement evidence. Although the topography within the respective areas is not identical, both locations are within the drumlin belt which stretches across the country from Strangford Lough in north-east Ulster to the Sligo and Donegal bays on the western coast. These case studies are used as a basis for the exploration of the application of the remote sensing techniques and subsequent analysis of early medieval settlement patterns. The investigation will be further developed and expanded upon in an examination of the findings within the wider early medieval landscape of Ireland. This PhD constitutes one of the first genuine landscape archaeological studies in Ireland to use lidar as its core dataset. Whilst lidar has, of course, been applied to archaeological research, its primary function has often been to simply prospect for ‘new’ monuments or examine already well-known archaeological landscapes. Ultimately, this research project seeks to move beyond prospection to a more valuable stage where the advantages afforded by lidar—particularly in conjunction with other techniques such as geophysical survey—can be incorporated into our analysis of the early medieval landscape, thereby increasing our knowledge and understanding of this complex period.
- PublicationThe Hospital in Medieval Ireland, 1170-1540: an Archaeology(University College Dublin. School of Archaeology, 2022)
;0000-0002-7350-6358The term ‘hospital’ conjures up the concept of specialised medical care in the modern mind, but in the Middle Ages the role played by such institutions, especially hospitals, was as much about caring for the spiritual welfare of the ill, a care predicated on the salvation of the immortal soul. The medieval hospital was also a place where travellers/pilgrims could find a bed and a place to rest, whereas the medieval infirmary was more narrowly concerned with care of the ‘infirmed’ those would could no longer care for themselves or did not have anyone to care for them, in general these infirmaries were attached to monastic settlements for the care of the lay members or those of the choir. According to Gwynn & Hadcock (1970) there may have been as many as 211 hospitals throughout the 32 counties, of which only a small number have extant remains. To date I have identified a possible 257 hospitals, based on extant remains or written records. It must be remembered however that these numbers stretch across recorded history and part of my task here is to refine this total. These sites have never been the subject of systematic archaeological attention, so this research will provide a survey of the archaeological and architectural remains of buildings and complexes associated with care of the body in Ireland, and a revisiting of the definition of the architectural style of these sites. Medieval hospitals performed multiple functions, in some cases being no more than small waystations providing hospitality for the poor traveller or being 'lazar houses' or leper hospitals. Some are closer to what our understanding of a hospital is, it is an understanding of this different concept of hospital which is one of the main aims of this project. At a conference in Glenstal Abbey in September 2014 and the accompanying volume (Browne OSB., M. and Ó Clabaigh OSB., C. , 2016), a recurring theme was the uncertainty about the precise forms and functions of hospitals in medieval sources, an uncertainty reflected in Prescott (1992) and one that seems to persist generally. I would suggest that some understanding is core to the appreciation of the architectural form and therefore the extant archaeological remains. This problem is a modern one as our understanding of hospital has change so radically from that understood by people of the time. In his verse ‘The hye way to the Spyttell hous’ written in 1535-6 Robert Copland (1965, pp. 1-25) gives us a vision of what a medieval hospital, probably St Bartholomew’s in London, was and some insight into a medieval understanding of its role. One needs to view the modern hospital as a refinement and specialisation of the medieval model a refinement that has seen one of the most important features of the medieval hospital to a greater degree removed, that of hospitality. Central to this research is a better understanding of how the sick and infirm were treated and considered by the rest of society and how that may have changed as the religious climate changed over the period A.D. 1169-1540. The study builds on the key concept in medieval culture of care (to care, curare Latin), the care of the soul, this care was one of the functions of the church as an institution (the priest was the curate, the curatus, the carer of souls). In Ireland it would appear that most hospitals of the period were administered by ecclesiastics (Gwynn & Hadcock, 1970) although most probably had secular patrons as to our current concerns the form of these buildings the ecclesiastical influence is more relevant. The hospital, is a difficult building to interpret, it could be a hospital, a hostel or closer to a retirement home as we would understand them today. From an archaeological point of view and of key concern to this study, it would be useful if we had some understanding of the layout of these complexes, a layout that would have been driven by the ethos around care and the structural needs generated 234
- PublicationMapping social, ideological and economic transformations: Settlement and landscape in the early medieval kingdom of Brega, AD 400-1100(University College Dublin. School of Archaeology, 2022)
;0000-0003-2390-3213Archaeology is a constantly evolving discipline, and geographic information system (GIS) software and theory as it relates to archaeology is evolving with it. This project combines archaeology and GIS and has two main strands. The first is to examine settlement, landscape, transport and communications in the early medieval kingdom of Brega. Brega was one of the most economically wealthy and politically powerful kingdoms in the country at this time and had a long practice of prehistoric settlement. It also has substantial early medieval settlement remains and is the location of Tara, the seat of the High Kings of Ireland. It was also a kingdom riven with strife throughout the period. Annexed internally by the Southern Uí Néill, it was also a target of attack for the Anglo-Saxons, Vikings and latterly the Anglo-Normans, and all of these factors served to alter the political and often physical landscape of the kingdom. This is the first time an attempt has been made to model the transport, communications and settlement network of an early medieval kingdom in as complete a way as the evidence allows. The second strand was to approach this subject through use of a GIS, using free and open source datasets, to assess their ability for use in an Irish context. The thesis uses a wide-ranging suite of GIS processes applied to these datasets to produce meaningful, substantial and original results. Some of the processes within the PhD have never before been applied to Irish material remains and these new techniques and approaches coupled with the power of the GIS to process large datasets can help untangle some of the complexity of settlement in Brega. 40
- PublicationA proper place for everything: the character and context of Beaker depositional practice in Ireland(University College Dublin. School of Archaeology, 2011)In the late third millennium BC, diverse groups of people throughout Europe adopted aspects of a suite of objects and practices known as the Beaker phenomenon including crouched inhumations with grave goods and early metallurgy. How and why this happened has traditionally defied interpretation, but these questions are of key significance to wider understandings of the adoption of novel material culture over millennia. This thesis aimed to create a better understanding of the Beaker phenomenon through a regionally-specific study of the character and context of Beaker-associated depositional practices in Ireland. By examining the depositional choices that were made, insights were gained into the social roles of Beaker objects that help us to understand how and why these were adopted on this island. Existing interpretations of this phenomenon have almost exclusively been based upon findings from the funerary domain. The very wide range of contexts from which evidence for Beaker activities has been found in Ireland represented an opportunity to advance understandings of this phenomenon beyond this. However, no effort had been made to synthesise this information and hitherto, no in-depth study of the manifestation of the Beaker phenomenon in Ireland had ever been conducted, thereby resulting in much misunderstanding. To remedy this, details relating to chance discoveries of Beaker objects, as well as the results from old and new excavations were collated, reassessed, and synthesised. Then, the depositional treatment of Beaker-associated artefacts within each context including settlements, funerary monuments, ceremonial settings and natural places were examined. This revealed that the deposition of Beaker objects in Ireland was structured, selective, type specific, contextually specific and not the product of random acts. These deposits represent the residue of an interlinked system of social practices that were conducted in accordance with long standing traditions. In light of this, traditional interpretations linking the Beaker phenomenon and/or early metallurgy with either the emergence of social complexity or an increase in social stratification were critiqued. This research showed that Beaker-associated material culture played a vital role in facilitating the expression and constraint of personal and group identities, as well as local and international social relations during an era when travel, trade and other forms of international interaction were greatly intensified. It is demonstrated that this international suite of new ideas and objects including metallurgy were adopted and adapted because they fulfilled the distinctive needs of local communities. It was argued that these developments form part of a long sequence of gradual alterations in strategies of identity formation occurring throughout the third millennium BC.
- PublicationSchottenklöster: the early history and architecture of the Irish Benedictine monasteries in medieval Germany(2009-04-29)This thesis constitutes a study of the early history and architecture of the Irish Benedictine monasteries founded in Germany between the late 11th and early 13th centuries. These so-called Schottenklöster comprised eight abbeys and two priories and were affiliated to the monastic motherhouse, St. James in Regensburg. The thesis examines the circumstances surrounding the foundation of each house, broaching issues such as the motivation of the founders, the role of the Regensburg motherhouse in the process and the relationship between the monastery and the host town. The historical sources are also used to help create a chronological framework for the erection of the various monastic churches and cloisters. In each case an attempt is made to reconstruct the original Romanesque church built on the site using the available archaeological, historical and pictorial evidence, and to place it within the regional architectural context. The thesis further considers whether there was a distinct architectural tradition associated with the Irish monasteries in Germany.
- PublicationThe Social and Technological Context of Iron Production in Iron Age and Early Medieval Ireland c. 600 BC – AD 900(University College Dublin. School of Archaeology, 2012-04)
; ;This thesis investigates the technology of iron production in Iron Age and early medieval Ireland and, through two case studies, situates iron production in its social context. Archaeological evidence from 202 sites, many recently excavated and unpublished is analysed, allowing the characterisation of the archaeology of Irish smelting and smithing sites, including features such as furnaces and smithing hearths as well as associated finds and structures. An Iron Age case study focuses on an iron producing region in the Irish midlands. This area has produced a significant number of dispersed, isolated and small-scale smelting sites from the period, as well as a very small number of smithing sites associated with ritually significant hilltop sites. It is argued that smith/smelters in the Iron Age of the region played a significant role in what was probably a mobile, pastoral society. They had a dual role as both craft- workers and ritual specialists, smelting iron in isolation before creating desirable objects at places of communal ritual and ceremony. A second case study focuses on the idea of the ironworker as a specialist in early medieval society. It is argued that the role of ironworkers changed significantly at the beginning of the period with the arrival of Christianity and the appropriation of iron technology by the Church, which organised the first large-scale specialist smithing in the country. As the period progressed smithing became a more common activity, carried out by a spectrum of workers including high-status secular smiths working on a very large-scale. 2036