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  • Publication
    Hidden 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.