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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.
65 black and white illustrations
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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