Research Symposium Irish Post-Medieval Archaeology Group

Date: 8 Nov 2019

Location: Helen Roe Theatre, Society House, 63 Merrion Square, Dublin 2

This seminar has been organised to present on-going archaeological research on the post-medieval period in Ireland. The invited speakers are all members of IPMAG, the Irish Post-Medieval Archaeology Group.


9.00                                 RSAI introduction

19.05                               IPMAG introduction (Franc Myles, Archaeology and Built Heritage)

19.10-19.30                  Nick Brannon: IPMAG at 20.

19.30-19.50                  Dr Connie Kelleher (Underwater Archaeology Unit, National Monuments Service):

Ireland’s post-medieval underwater cultural heritage.

19.50-20.10                 Dr Wes Forsyth (Ulster University): The archaeology of salt production in post-medieval Ireland.

20.10-20.45                Prof Audrey Horning (Queens University Belfast and College of William and Mary):

Archaeologies of identity in early modern Ireland.

20.45-21.00                  Closing comments.


Irish Post-Medieval Archaeology Group
Formed in Belfast in 1999, IPMAG’s inaugural conference was held in 2001 and has become the organisation’s key annual event. The conference is held every February at locations across the country and attracts a range of delegates from professional archaeologists to the general public. We have been delighted in the past to host the conference in conjunction with the Society for Post-Medieval Archaeology (UK); and the Group for the Study of Irish Historic Settlement.
IPMAG seeks to promote amongst academics and the general public a greater understanding of Ireland’s post-1550AD archaeology, history and material culture. It also seeks to promote a holistic approach to this material by means of greater co-operation with persons working in related fields of study.
The aims of the group are:
• To undertake initiatives that will help raise the profile of post-medieval archaeology within Ireland.
• To foster greater contacts between those individuals engaged in researching the archaeology, history and culture of post- 1550 Ireland.
• To lobby for increased academic attention to be paid to the post-medieval period within Irish universities.
• To seek greater protection for post-1700s monuments under National Legislation in Ireland.
As well as hosting an annual conference and fieldtrip, IPMAG has been active in lobbying government departments and heritage agencies to recognise the value and importance of our post-medieval past. This has led to increased awareness in and the study of this aspect of Irish archaeology, which has been all the more recently emphasised in this era of commemorations and where key locations are integral to our understanding of events from our most recent historical past. IPMAG has published a number of significant books on Post-Medieval Archaeology, as part of its conference proceedings series of publications.

Dr Connie Kelleher is a member of the State Underwater Archaeology Unit (UAU) in the National Monuments Service (NMS), Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht. Connie is a graduate of UCC with an MA in maritime archaeology and a PhD from Trinity College Dublin, on the history and archaeology of piracy in Irish waters in the early-17th century. As a commercially trained diver, her work with the NMS is broad and focuses on the protection of Ireland’s underwater cultural heritage. She is visiting lecturer in the Archaeology Department, UCC; is past board member of the international Advisory Council on Underwater Archaeology (ACUA) and former council member of the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland (RSAI). Connie was former chair and is current secretary of the Irish Post-Medieval Archaeology Group (IPMAG). Connie has published widely, with chapters in books and papers in peer reviewed journals; she has two books due for publication shortly: the co-authored RMS Lusitania: the Story of a Wreck (with F. Moore, K. Brady, C. McKeon & I. Lawler) and her own forthcoming The Alliance of Pirates: Ireland and Atlantic Piracy in the Early Seventeenth Century (Cork University Press).
Connie’s paper will consider Ireland’s underwater cultural heritage from the post-medieval period highlighting its diversity and importance within the context of a time period where Ireland was to witness fundamental change nationally but also influence and impact other nations internationally.
Prof Audrey Horning’s research centres on comparative colonialism and the relationship between archaeology and contemporary identity, with a particular focus upon European expansion into the early modern Atlantic world(s). Major archaeological fieldwork projects include directing excavations at Jamestown, Virginia (first permanent English New World settlement, 1607); on Plantation-period sites in Northern Ireland (Movanagher, Roe Valley/Limavady, Goodland); at the Slievemore Deserted Village, Achill Island, Co Mayo; and running a multi-year Survey of Rural Mountain Settlement in the Virginia Blue Ridge.. I am also collaborating on a National Endowment for the Humanities project entitled Colonial Encounters in the Chesapeake which is examining the early colonial engagements between Natives, Europeans, and Africans from an archaeological perspective. Recent publications have addressed future directions for historical and contemporary archaeology; integration of archaeology with conflict transformation; ethics and public engagement; incorporation of Native American perspectives on colonial histories; the anthropology of drinking in colonial settings; late medieval Gaelic Irish rural settlement; vernacular architecture in Ireland and Virginia; and the 20th-century archaeology of Appalachia. Audrey is an Arts and Sciences Distinguished Professor of Anthropology at the College of William and Mary and is Professor in the School of Natural and Built Environment, QUB.
Audrey will talk about the Dungiven costume, housed in the Ulster Museum, In April 1956, a farmer brought some remnants of clothing into the Belfast Museum and Art Gallery which a labourer had found during the removal of a peat wall on his farm. The clothing consisted of a large woollen semi-circular cloak, a woollen coat or jacket, tartan trews, and a leather belt and shoes. Audrey will discuss the examination of the costume that followed its discovery, which revealed possible links with the O’Cahan clan and suggested a production date of the first half of 17th century.
Dr Wes Forsythe is a maritime archaeologist and senior lecturer at Ulster University. His research is on coastal communities and their exploitation of marine resources in the medieval and post-medieval eras. His work is concerned with strategies for understanding and utilising the marine environment and their resulting effect on the coastal and intertidal landscape. He has worked across Ireland as a commercial archaeologist and for National Monuments Service; and as an academic has also conducted research on the coasts of North and East Africa.
Wes will be discussing the archaeology of salt production in post-medieval Ireland.
Nick Brannon studied Archaeology A-level at school. After graduating from Queen’s University he joined the Archaeological Survey, basically as a rescue archaeologist, directing over 50 excavations and publishing over 100 papers. In the 1990s he launched the Northern Ireland Monuments and Buildings Record and drafted the Historic Monuments and Archaeological Objects (NI) Order 1995 and the NI Code of Practice for the UK Treasure Act 1996. He served as Director of Built Heritage, 1999-2002. He currently resides in Virginia, USA and in Co. Londonderry.