Armagh and the Royal Centres in Early Medieval Ireland

December 1994
65 black and white illustrations
368 pages
23.4x15.6 cm
ISBN: 9781873448021
Format: Hardback
Cruithne Press

Armagh and the Royal Centres in Early Medieval Ireland

Monuments, Cosmology, and the Past

N.B. Aitchison

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Study of monuments and their ideological significance illuminates transition period in early Irish history.
Evidence suggests that the middle of the first millenium AD was a significant period in Irish history: a time of increasing political centralisation and the erosion of Iron Age belief patterns and social structures.
In this persuasive thesis Aitchison proposes a date of AD500 as a cut-off point between Iron-Age and Early Medieval Ireland. His primary interest lies in this latter society with its new political organisations. He highlights monuments as a focus for study and argues that they have been been poorly defined and understood in the literature. He argues that a monument, while it is a reminder of the past, may also be invested with new ideological significance by a later society. Within this framework he investigates the way in which the Early Medieval Irish invested much older monuments with ideological meaning and uses Armagh and other royal centres as a vehicle for analysing central themes of early Irish history. The book coincides with a resurgence of archaeological interest in the sites of Armagh and the Navan Fort and includes a formidable bibliography.


Will have a considerable impact on the work of historians and others interested in early Christian Ireland. HISTORY The ideas in this book are interesting and carefully argued... The multi-disciplinary approach is commendable, particularly in the interpretation of Navan Fort. Likewise the [argument for] the reinterpretation of earlier monuments by later generations for their own ends is enlightening. EARLY MEDIEVAL EUROPE Aitchison blend[s] an archaeologist's understanding of material remains with a historian's critical use of the textual evidence for early medieval Ireland to come up with a synthesis that is both plausible and impressive...a very good book. CATHOLIC HISTORICAL REVIEW Never less than stimulating. MEDIEVAL ARCHAEOLOGY