Key-words: Ireland, Plantation, Post-Medieval, industrial, archaeology
While the archaeological study of the early modern period was generally underplayed within Irish archaeology before the 1970s, since that time there has been a significant increase in research on post-medieval and industrial themes. The origins, achievements, and recent developments of post-medieval and industrial archaeology in Ireland are discussed, with a consideration of the future of these disciplines.
The commencement of post-medieval archaeology in Ireland rests with the study of sites associated with the Plantation period of the 16th and 17th centuries--a period which saw a major influx of British settlers into Ireland, leading to substantial changes in the island's social, economic, political and religious organization. The maps, memoirs and letters generated by the Ordnance Survey in the years immediately preceding the Great Famine of the late 1840s represent some of the first accounts to be compiled on the ruins of Plantation castles and fortified houses (Day & McWilliams 1990-1998). The buildings and their associated histories were also considered suitable material for early 20th-century antiquarian study, prompting publications such as those by Westropp (1906-7) in Munster and by Bigger (1902) in Ulster. Interest in Ulster's Plantation castles continued into the 20th century; the first overview of the province's archaeological heritage (Lawlor 1928) contained a chapter devoted to the buildings, while they also featured prominently throughout the Preliminary Survey of the Ancient Monuments of Northern Ireland (Chart 1940). This tradition continued in the pages of the Ulster Journal of Archaeology, where Dudley Waterman and Martyn Jope published on a range of castles, also producing seminal synthetic papers (Jope 1951; 1960; Waterman 1961).
Early research on the post-medieval period tended towards the investigation of standing masonry rather than excavated evidence. While Waterman and Jope concentrated upon castles and manor homes, geographer Emyr Estyn Evans (1996) pioneered the study of vernacular architecture and rural settlement, establishing the Ulster Folk and Transport Museum in Co. Down which incorporates relocated examples of Ulster's vernacular buildings, albeit without the aid of contextual archaeological information. One early example of post-medieval archaeological excavation was an investigation of the development of a clachan (a cluster of farm-dwellings and associated out-houses) at Murphystown, Co. Down by Buchanan et al. (1958). The use of archaeological excavation techniques to further the study of Plantation-period settlement was not advanced until the 1980s, when archaeologist Nick Brannon used excavated evidence as a means of enlightening the historical documentation for a range of urban and rural sites (Brannon 1999). This process is best demonstrated by the work Brannon and Blades undertook at the medieval priory at Dungiven in Co. Londonderry, revealed through archaeology as the location of Sir Edward Doddington's `lost' 17th-century manor house (Brannon & Blades 1980). Archaeological investigations of the Plantation continue in Ulster, at sites such as the deserted village of Movanagher, Co. Londonderry (Horning 2001) and Newtownstewart Castle, Co. Tyrone (O'Baoill 2000), with several settlements associated with the Munster Plantation also recently excavated in Co. Cork by Klingelhofer (2000).
The archaeological study of the urban heritage of Ireland's post-medieval period was pioneered by the late Tom Delaney during his excavations from 1972 to 1976 at Carrickfergus, Co. Antrim, an Ulster town founded under the Anglo-Normans in the late 12th century. Delaney displayed a welcome and holistic approach to urban excavation; recognising that post-medieval deposits and structures must be investigated and recorded to tell the story of Carrickfergus in its entirety (Delaney 1977; Simpson & Dickson 1981). Since the 1980s there has been a major increase in the numbers of archaeological excavations in all of Ireland's urban centres, but particularly so in the Republic of Ireland where over half of all investigations occur within urban environments (Heritage Council 2000: 16). The huge increase in developer-funded excavation recently prompted the Republic of Ireland's Heritage Council to commission two reports, one focusing on urban research agendas (Johnson 2000) and the second reviewing urban archaeological practice (Lambrick & Spandl 2000). The latter report noted a growth in the excavation of post-medieval deposits (Lambrick & Spandl 2000: 54) but found a general lack of proper recognition among excavators for levels dating to the period post-1700 AD. This situation seems to have developed from a popular misconception that the Republic's National Monuments legislation does not apply to sites of 18th-century or later date, although this is clearly not the case (Lambrick & Spandl 2000: 19) and it is to be hoped that future investigations will devote more attention to the archaeology of the recent past.
With so much new information being generated by urban excavation it is obviously vital that results are disseminated within the profession and among the public. Synthetic accounts of the excavations undertaken in Dublin, Belfast, Limerick, Cork, Galway, Derry and Carrickfergus are currently being prepared for publication (Donnelly et al. forthcoming). In addition, Myles (2001) indicated the scale of recent work undertaken in Dublin, and Hurley (2000) produced a summary of the urban excavations that have occurred in the Republic of Ireland's major towns and cities. The report for a second major programme of excavations undertaken within Carrickfergus during the early 1990s is nearing completion (O'Baoill forthcoming) while a number of major site-specific reports have been published (Francis 2001; Simpson 1996; Wiggins 2000).
Lambrick & Spandl (2000: 50) also noted a widespread neglect of Ireland's urban industrial heritage, although it must be stated that--Belfast excluded--Ireland's towns and cities did not experience the extreme increase in industrial activity that their British counterparts underwent during the period from 1750 to 1850. Much of Irish industrial activity was small-scale, rural and agricultural in nature, often continuing well into the 20th century (Hamond 2000: 358-9). One estimate suggests that there are some 100,000 sites of industrial interest throughout the island, of which less than 5% have been surveyed (Hamond 2000: 359). Many sites are now redundant, derelict and under threat from demolition or redevelopment. A significant range of industrial monuments have, however, been conserved as tourist and educational facilities by government bodies, charities and trusts, and community-based initiatives; signifying another outlet for archaeological interpretation. In addition, the Industrial Heritage Association of Ireland was founded in 1996 with the express purpose of raising public awareness of the rich and varied nature of the island's industrial heritage. One of their first endeavours was publishing an overview (Hamond 1998a) identifying work undertaken in the field over the previous 40 years.
As a reminder of the power of the individual to elicit change or to modify research agendas, the first regional survey of industrial archaeology in Britain and Ireland was the late Professor Rodney Green's survey of the archaeological monuments of Co. Down (1963). Green was inspired by the historic involvement of his family in linen manufacture. Interest in Green's research led the Ancient Monuments Council in Northern Ireland to appoint Alan McCutcheon in 1962 to undertake a survey of the industrial sites throughout the six counties. This work continued until 1968 and provided the basis for the comprehensive Industrial Archaeology of Northern Ireland (1980) and the establishment of an Industrial Archaeology Record. Other survey programmes in Northern Ireland followed, including the Greater Belfast Industrial Heritage Survey (Scally 1987) and a survey of the industrial heritage of the Antrim Coast and Glens (Hamond 1991). McCutcheon's archive--some 30,000 photographs, drawings and site-specific records--is currently being catalogued by the Environment and Heritage Service of the Department of the Environment, Northern Ireland.
In the Republic of Ireland, industrial heritage surveys are complete for Co. Kilkenny (Hamond 1998b) and Dublin City's dockland (McMahon 1998), some industry-specific texts are now available (O'Maitiu & O'Reilly 1997), while the Heritage Council commissioned a handbook to provide information on legislation, recording and conservation (Heritage Council 2000: 25). The most significant recent advance is the publication of a survey of the industrial archaeology of Cork City and its environs (Rynne 1999).
General texts on Irish post-medieval archaeology are few in number (Donnelly & Brannon 1998), while the profusion of information generated in recent years has led to difficulties in the communication of new discoveries. In response, interested individuals from public and private archaeological sectors in Belfast met in June of 1999 to discuss the promotion of post-medieval archaeology. The group established a new organization, the Irish Post-Medieval Archaeology Group (IPMAG), launched by a major three-day conference entitled The Archaeology of Post-Medieval Ireland, 1550-1850 at Queen's University Belfast in February 2001. Attended by some 150 delegates from Ireland, Britain and the United States, the conference featured 30 talks encompassing the archaeology of the Plantation period, research in major towns and cities, architectural, industrial and landscape studies, and the analysis of the period's material culture. These papers are currently being edited for publication as a major monograph (Donnelly et al. forthcoming) serving as the first Irish textbook for the period.
A series of open discussions were held at the conference identifying shared concerns over lack of university teaching of post-medieval archaeology, the pace of development-driven excavations and the destruction of post-medieval materials, and the need for inter-disciplinary discourse amongst all those studying Ireland's recent past. A second conference organized by the new, all-Ireland committee was held at Trinity College Dublin in February 2002, with plans for a 2004 conference in Derry City as a joint venture with the Society for Post-Medieval Archaeology. The group's newsletter serves as the principle means of communication between those working in the discipline.
The archaeological study of Ireland's Plantation period, post-medieval urban heritage and industrial archaeology originated in Northern Ireland, owing in part to the politics of the 20th century. Northern Ireland, as part of the United Kingdom, was more influenced by developments in medieval, post-medieval and industrial archaeology in Britain during the 1950s and 1960s than were archaeologists in the Republic of Ireland. O'Conor (1998: 9-12) notes the negative attitude that was directed towards the medieval period in southern Ireland following partition and independence. Nationalist sentiment within the new State associated the medieval with British colonialism; thus before the 1970s southern archaeologists focused predominantly on the prehistoric and Early Christian periods. If the archaeology of the medieval period could be discriminated against in this manner, then what hope was there for archaeological remains associated--rightly or wrongly--with more recent British colonial activity as exemplified by Plantation-period sites?
Regardless of political influence, the vast majority of the practitioners involved in the projects discussed above received little formal academic training in the period, its history, material culture or architecture; traditionally, the archaeology of early modern Ireland has not been part of the curriculum at Irish universities. As such, academic engagement--until very recently--has been limited, with a tendency for research projects to be undertaken by scholars from outside Ireland, and particularly the United States (Delle 1999; Horning forthcoming; Miller 1991; Orser 1996). There are obvious exceptions (McDonald 1998; Breen 2001), but it will only be when the subject is added to university curriculae within Ireland that we can expect an increase in research projects by indigenous researchers. Encouragingly, post-medieval archaeology is now being taught at the undergraduate level in University College Cork and University College Dublin, while the Masters course in Maritime Archaeology in the University of Ulster contains a significant post-medieval component.
The principal challenges facing the growth of post-medieval archaeology in Ireland are fourfold. First, the discipline suffers from a lack of public and professional awareness and understanding. Second, the pace of development in the Republic coupled with the general lack of specific training continues to endanger the integrity and interpretation of post-medieval remains. Third, conventional definitions of `post-medieval' must be expanded to include regularly the whole of the 19th and 20th centuries; positively reflected in the current government-led recording of 20th-century military bases and the material heritage of the Troubles in Northern Ireland. Finally, practitioners of post-medieval archaeology in Ireland (and elsewhere) must look beyond their own national and disciplinary boundaries. Post-medieval Ireland must be understood in its global context; as the impact of British expansion and native reaction on the island over the past 500 years is a process that was repeated throughout the Atlantic and wider world. An informed historical archaeology of Ireland, 1500-present, must incorporate and balance all sources of information; material, documentary, oral historical, ethnohistorical, and comparative. Only then will a mature and meaningful discipline emerge; a discipline with relevancy in the present with responsibility to the past.
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COLM J. DONNELLY & AUDREY J. HORNING *
* School of Archaeology & Palaeoecology, Queen's University, Belfast BT7 1NN, Northern Ireland.…