The Royal Irish Academy/Acadamh Ríoga na hÉireann champions research. We identify and recognise Ireland’s world class researchers. We support scholarship and promote awareness of how science and the humanities enrich our lives and benefit society. We believe that good research needs to be promoted, sustained and communicated. The Academy is run by a Council of its members. Membership is by election and considered the highest academic honour in Ireland.

Read more about the RIA

Early Medieval Ireland, AD 400-1100

by  Aidan O'SullivanFinbar McCormickThomas KerrLorcan Harney
€ 80.00

Book Details

Published by Royal Irish Academy

April 2014


Number of pages: 607

ISBN: 9781904890607


PDF icon Advance Information PDF icon Chapter 3

Reprinted in 2021 to include a new post-2014 biographical essay.

How did people create and live in their own worlds in early medieval Ireland? What did they actually do? And to what end did they do it? This book investigates and reconstructs from archaeological evidence how early medieval Irish people lived together as social groups, worked the land as farmers, worshipped God, made and used objects and buried their dead around them. It uses evidence from excavations conducted between 1930 and 2012 to explore how people used their landscapes, dwellings and material culture to effect and negotiate social, ideological and economic continuities and changes during the period ad 400-1100.

This book is also available on JSTOR. For more information, institutions can visit Books at JSTOR or contact

You can buy the e-book here.

About the authors

Aidan O'Sullivan

Aidan O'Sullivan, PhD, is a Professor at the School of Archaeology, University College Dublin, and a Principal Investigator of the Early Medieval Archaeology Project. His research interests are in early medieval Britain and Ireland; experimental archaeology; and wetland archaeology and environments around the world. His recent books include Rethinking wetland archaeology (2006) and The Oxford handbook of wetland archaeology (2013).

Finbar McCormick

Finbar McCormick taught archaeology at Queen's University Belfast for many years before retiring in 2019. He has published widely on a range of subjects with special emphasis on zooarchaeology and settlement in Early Medieval in Ireland. Most recently, he has been researching Irish holy wells and the zooarchaeology of the Neolithic Maltese temples. 

Thomas Kerr

Dr Thomas R Kerr completed his PhD on Early Christian Settlement in North West Ulster in 2005. He consequently worked for a couple of years with the Centre for Archaeological Fieldwork, and then as a Graduate Teaching Fellow, at Queen’s University Belfast. Thom joined the Early Medieval Archaeology Project (EMAP) in 2008 as a Research Fellow, and continued with EMAP until 2013. In 2014, Thom joined, what is now, the Historic Environment Division (HED) of the Department for Communities (NI) as an Inspector of Historic Monuments. In 2019 he was accepted as a Member of the Chartered Institute for Archaeologists (CiFA).

Thom has been involved in framing future archaeological research in Northern Ireland as part of Archaeology 2030 - A Strategic Approach for Northern Ireland; and has continued publications focused on early medieval Ireland. His current research interests include early medieval warfare and the early medieval Irish economy.

Lorcan Harney

Lorcan Harney, MA, PhD, worked as a Research Archaeologist (2007-10) with the Early Medieval Archaeology Project at UCD School of Archaeology. In 2016, he completed an Irish Research Council-funded PhD at UCD on the topic 'Living with the Church in early medieval Ireland, AD 400-1100: archaeological perspectives on the sacred and profane'. He now works as a primary school teacher in Celbridge, but continues to publish aspects of his PhD research and to be involved in local Kildare archaeology and history.