The Blackstairs mountains, south east Ireland: Investigating the archaeological potential of an understudied upland landscape
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.
Type of Material
University College Dublin. School of Archaeology
Copyright (Published Version)
2016 the author
Status of Item
This item is made available under a Creative Commons License